Saturday, April 11, 2009

Delay Of Game

Tonight's two hour rain delay in Atlanta perfectly embodied the first four games of 2009 for Our Washington Nationals.

Just when you think Washington is going to pull ahead, something goes wrong.

A rally dies. A defensive stop take place. Our Pitcher gives up a home run.

14 hits are stroked but 16 runners are left on base.

4 bases loaded situations and only one run scored.

Too many strikeouts--12 in this 10 inning affair. Some of our batters need to cut down on their swings.

Atlanta's pitchers throw a mistake pitch and Washington doesn't capitalize.

Washington's starter Shairon Martis throws a mistake pitch and Yunel Escobar slams a three run homer out of the park.

The twists of fate when things are not going well.

Chance after chance to pull ahead and win--but rarely following through on opportunity given.

Our starting pitching continues to get DC's team behind early and ultimately playing catchup all night long. You can't play from behind every night and expect to win.

But when Lastings Milledge slammed his two strike, two out game tying single off the glove of The Braves Closer Mike Gonzalez with the bases loaded in the top of the 9th, I really believed that was the lucky blow that was finally going to turn things around for Washington in this early season.

Unfortunately, all it really did was delay this eventual loss one additional disappointing inning.

Not firing on all cylinders, Our Washington Nationals have yet to put a complete ballgame together in this young season. A Delay Of Their Own Game that now finds Washington 0-4 after the first five days of the 2009 Championship Season. But at least in baseball, there is always tomorrow. Final Score from Wet, Soggy and Rain Delayed Turner Field--The Atlanta Braves 6 and Our Washington Nationals 5 in 10 frustrating innings and six hours of real time.

When tonight's game went deep into night, I thought it was going to be one of those special affairs. Those battles in which something spectacular happens that leads to a heart pumping win for Our Nats--those thrillers that have happened countless times since baseball returned to Washington. One of those when hardly anyone is left watching because of the time of day and lateness of the hour--but you need to stay awake and pay attention--because almost always, something unusual occurs. Rain, a long delay, a close game, most everyone on both teams already in the game. The strangeness of what's developing. It's the very reason why I couldn't take my eyes off the TV. But sadly in the long run, all that really did was delay the night's sleep and this post from beginning.

Game Notes & Highlights

Ryan Zimmerman, Elijah Dukes, Cristian Guzman, Adam Dunn and even Lastings Milledge had decent nights at the plate. All but Dunn recording at least two hits. Adam walking three times.

But Milledge probably cost Washington a run in the top of the second when while on second base with one out, he decided to tag up on a deep fly to the right field wall hit by Zimmerman. A stroked hit that Atlanta's usually quality outfielder Jeff Francouer misplayed--almost fearing to run into the scoreboard wall. A resultant bouncing ball that Lastings did not score upon--while "The Guz" (Shairon Martis actually--late hour writing) running in front of him did. Lastings should have played it halfway instead of tagging. There is no real extra incentive to advance to third with what he believed might be the second out of the inning--when he could have scored on the play. And when Washington subsequently failed to score even with the bases loaded later during that frame--that lost run proved costly in the final tally. But to be fair, Nick Johnson and Elijah Dukes also both struckout to kill that rally.

Defensively, Ryan Zimmerman looked like his old self. Twice swiftly charging in to scoop up barehanded rolling baseballs and throwing out fast moving runners at first. No 3rd baseman in the game consistently charges and tosses out hitters in such a fashion quite like Our Number 11.

Due to the rain storms, Shairon Martis only pitched three innings. And his one mistake, the three run shot given up to Yunel Escobar in bottom of the second proved costly. Our Number 39 was OK, but he's definitely a work in progress--doesn't seem confident out there on the mound. Our bullpen pitched OK going 6.1 innings and giving up three runs--including the game winner allowed by Joe Beimel in his second inning of work. Saul Rivera again effective for his first inning, but his usual struggles in his second frame of action. Tonight, giving up the go ahead run in the bottom of the 8th before Lastings Milledge was able to tie things up in the 9th with two outs and the bases loaded.

Our Manager Manny Acta had to use virtually his entire bench. Except for the hobbling Ronnie Belliard and Joel Hanrahan in the bullpen, all other players minus starters John Lannan, Scott Olsen and Daniel Cabrera saw action.

Finally, with Kelly Johnson on second base in the bottom of the 8th for Atlanta, Yunel Escobar slices a liner to right field. Elijah Dukes scoops up the baseball and comes up throwing. Looking to score an insurance run for Atlanta, Johnson thought he was going to plate a run. Instead, Our Number 34 had other ideas and flat out delivered a knock out punch with The Defensive Play Of This Game. A perfect throw to plate. Jesus Flores tagging Kelly out well short of scoring. Home Plate Umpire Mike Reilly with the emphatic OUT CALL!! It was a terrific throw.

That powerful ability which Dukes also displayed on the last play of the game. Clearly, Elijah had no chance to throw the speedy Jordan Schafer out on Kelly Johnson's game winning single in the bottom of the 10th to rightfield off Joe Beimel. But Dukes, never one to give up, made an honest effort to try and unfurled a BB GUN throw on the fly to Flores. Schafer still scored, but Elijah wasn't afraid to try. What A THROW!! And unfortunately, Dukes apparently hurt himself trying. Limping off the field, favoring his right groin.

Medical report to come.

OK--it's nearly 3AM, I am getting some sleep now.


Edward J. Cunningham said...

If Milledge doesn't play a LOT better, he is going to get a lot of boos when he's introduced in the starting line-up Easter Monday, and I don't mean by Phillie fans!

An Briosca Mor said...

A resultant bouncing ball that Lastings did not score upon--while "The Guz" running in front of him did.

How did Guzman get ahead of Milledge on the bases when he bats behind him? I believe it was the pitcher Martis on base ahead of Milledge there, an inexperienced baserunner. (It was his first major league hit.) That's a factor that a lot of people are ignoring on this play. Milledge as a baserunner needs to take his cues from what the runner in front of him is doing as well as what's happening on the play in right field. Did Martis tag up, thinking the ball would be caught? If he did, and if Milledge didn't, then one of them would have surely been hung out to dry by Francoeur's arm.

paul said...

If Milledge goes halfway, there are two scenarios:

Ball is caught: Milledge goes back, Martis scores (or doesn't).

Ball is not caught: Both score.

SBF, I saw your commercial for the first time. I watched without audio, and not because I had the radio on. We had folks over for dinner, and I insisted on the background video. Anyway, you have some good ball skills. We should start a 50 and over team!

On another matter, it is absolutely inexplicable that Elijah Dukes is not in the starting lineup. It's more than his own numbers. When he is in there, the rest of the team plays better.

paul said...

Sorry, I just read about Dukes's injury. My B.

An Briosca Mor said...

Ball is caught: Milledge goes back, Martis scores (or doesn't).

You forgot the part about Francoeur's superior arm throwing Milledge out.