Tuesday, April 28, 2009
After surviving last night's "Nearly Speechless" loss, The African Queen and I slept it off and awoke this morning ready to root on Our Washington Nationals again tonight--as always. And we were ready, watching the entire game on MASN, while listening to Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler on WFED 1500AM. Although, we are pretty sure some of our fellow citizens of NatsTown were watching a rousing Game 7 Hockey Playoff Match between The Washington Capitals & New York Rangers from Verizon Center. A series decider that found The Caps coming all the way back from a 3 games to 1 deficit to advance to the next round of The Stanley Cup Playoffs.
But for us, our attention was focused on South Philadelphia where Our Washington Nationals suffered badly last night and then played this evening in a manner that could best be described as The Hangover Effect. Monday's demoralizing defeat, setting the table for a sparkless performance this evening.
Body language means everything and it clearly seemed as if everyone playing for Washington was a little down. Understandably so, our players still appeared a bit stunned and slightly dazed. While we were hoping DC's Team could bounce back with a feel good victory, tonight's 19th game of 2009 turned out to be a very flat affair. Washington never really got untracked and The Philadelphia Phillies continued to bang the baseball all over their puny ballpark while taking advantage of a few key DC miscues.
Again not playing perfect baseball, a five run bottom of the 3rd inning by The Phillies was the microcosm of this entire game.
Our Washington Nationals can not make even the slightest mistake these days and NOT get punished by The Baseball Gods. During this evening's 3rd frame, John Lannan served up an off-speed pitch right over the plate to Chase Utley and the Philadelphia All-Star made Our Number 31 pay for it with a two-run homer to right. Not a decisive blow by any means, but hurtful when Alberto Gonzalez committed his 6th fielding error with two outs moments later. Another misstep that found Lannan flustered. John then walking last night's Philly Hero, Raul Ibanez, on four pitches--only to find Pedro Feliz taking John deep, one hitter later, over the left field wall for a quick 5-0 lead.
Mental mistakes and pitching command issues directly leading to The Phillies taking advantage of John Lannan. As sharp as Lannan was last Thursday Night in that extraordinary 1-0 loss to The Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park, Our Number 31 was merely average tonight--at best. Three total homers allowed (two to Utley), nines base hits, two walks, John wasn't sharp. And when The Defending Champions pounced on Washington's lapses again--this game was over--quickly.
Staggered and unable to mount any serious comeback, Our Washington Nationals played under what looked to be the effects of a hangover. That pounding migraine you just want to go away, but instead lingers and makes you feel even worse for another 24 hour period.
Final Score from Citizens Bank Park, The Philadelphia Phillies 7 and Our Washington Nationals 1. A ball game in which Washington never really had a chance to win.
Game Notes & Highlights
On the bright side, Ryan Zimmerman extended his hitting streak to 17 games with a 1st inning double tonight. And Adam Dunn continues to get on base and slam the baseball. His 6th Home Run this evening to go along with another single and walk, leaving Dunn with a robust .328 Batting Average by the end of this game.
Phillies Starter and 2008 World Series MVP, Coles Hamels, twisted his left ankle in the top of the 5th attempting to field a John Lannan bunt. After first believing he was fine, further warmups showed Hamels was hurting and he left the game, replaced by Chad Durbin. Durbin rewarded The Vulture Win as Cole did not finish the required 5 complete innings. You could tell Hamels was miffed he had to leave the game.
The Bullpen By Committee Approach now in the works for Washington. Joel Hanrahan relieved of the closer duties as of today. Garrett Mock not the 8th inning guy. Joe Beimel expected to become closer when he returns from The DL on May 6th. Assistant GM Mike Rizzo stating tonight that Julian Tavarez, Kip Wells and Beimel will get the load of the late inning work in close games for the time being. Note how all three of those veteran pitchers are his personal roster pickups after taking over for the departed Jim Bowden.
Willie Harris returned to the 25-Man Roster before tonight's game. Justin Maxwell optioned to AAA Syracuse. Cristian Guzman expected to be activated for tomorrow night's series finale against The Phillies. A corresponding roster move will have to be made. Alex Cintron or Alberto Gonzalez on the bubble to be optioned. "The Guz" will bat leadoff for the time being. He doesn't walk much, but he is the best choice for now.
Washington now 4-15 on the 2009 Season, 7.5 games out of first place. Interestingly, if not for playing Washington and winning--The Florida Marlins would be 6-8 over all. The Phillies 8-7, The Braves 6-8 and The Mets 7-10. If Our Washington Nationals had played well enough to win five of the late inning games they blew--they would be in the middle of the pack in a struggling National League East. Instead, they find themselves well at the bottom of the division.
Finally, The African Queen joked tonight--it takes a strong stomach to stay a solid citizen of NatsTown. And we are not wavering.
Tonight's InGame Photo--H. Rumph, Jr. (AP)