Thursday, April 16, 2009
Raising The Flag Of Victory
As Austin Kearns settled under the weakly hit fly ball off the bat of Pedro Feliz with two outs in the top of 9th, those remaining on hand watching were already cheering. A long awaited moment was about to occur. Curly "W" Number 1 was being Put In The Books!!
Force 3 Military Opening Night was the appropriate backdrop as Our Washington Nationals provided a trifecta of force of their very own. A winning combination displayed tonight of Power, Pitching and Defense. Maybe there's something after all to those Alternate Blue with Stars & Bars "DC" Logo Jerseys--used tonight for the very first time. Worn with white pants, The Military & Patriotic Specials looked pretty sharp--like our famous Red, White & Blue Flag waving proudly throughout the evening's breeze over the leftfield wall in Centerfield Plaza.
But not as nice as Adam Dunn's cannon shot three run homer launched into Section 238, eight rows from the ScoreBoard Walk in the bottom of the first inning. One of those--'Can you believe what I just saw shots?" that had the announced crowd of 20,484 buzzing!! And well they should have as Our Number 44 absolutely crushed that fastball sent his way off the right hand of The Philadelphia Phillies Joe Blanton.
A Sonic Boom!!
An early three lead before the sun even set over the 3rd base stands that allowed Our Starter, the young Shairon Martis, to pitch from ahead, be comfortable and settle into a very nice rhythm. A Washington Starter for the first time this season going deep into any game was witnessed. Martis pitching into 7th and finding the defensive alignment behind him perfect in formation. A march to victory thanks to our troops--getting known more each passing day as that ever growing potent offense--which Washington let loose on The Phillies bullpen in the 7th & 8th Frames.
Precision, a military standard, practiced by Our Washington Nationals this evening. Whether it was Josh Willingham's Pinch Hit Home Run, or Elijah Dukes round tripper, or Alberto Gonzalez (yes, The Attorney General) homering down the left field line--4 Home Runs total--Our Manager Manny Acta was pushing the right buttons. Stellar relief efforts provided by Mike Hinkley, Joe Beimel and Joel Hanrahan--2.2 scoreless innings pitched. And no defensive shortcomings. After a winless week of baseball, Instead of circling the wagons and just hoping for the best, Washington regrouped, came out swinging with a new lineup and a fresh outlook.
Fighting, attacking and being the aggressor--DC's team played competitively all night long.
Real Baseball Was Played At Nationals Park Tonight--almost perfect.
Final Score from Nationals Park were The Bang!! Zoom!! Of The Fireworks!! were heard for the first time in 2009, Our Washington Nationals 8 and The Philadelphia Phillies 2 in nine enjoyable innings. Curly "W" Number One this cool night providing a sense of relief from the disappointment of the past eleven days. Beating any team after an 0-7 start would be nice, but beating The Defending Champions--even sweeter. That and the very fact that on Military Appreciation Night, Our Washington Nationals didn't surrender. They didn't raise the white flag. No not this time. In Game Number 8 of 2009, Washington raised The Flag Of Victory. The Red, White & Blue waving across their "DC" Logo Jerseys--proudly.
Game Notes & Highlights
Shairon Martis really looked good. He was aggressive, not nibbling around the corners. Martis went after The Phillies. Only one time, did he appear to waver and that was when while holding a slim 3-2 lead in the top of the 6th and falling behind in the count to the powerful Ryan Howard--he pitched around Howard--walking him. Then proceeded to retire Philadelphia successfully--getting Jayson Werth and Feliz sandwiched between a Raul Ibanez single. Shairon Martis pitched SMART BASEBALL tonight. He didn't beat himself. He wasn't intimidated and garnered the deserved First Victory of 2009.
Impressive performance which was also true of Joe Beimel. When Beimel was summoned into the game to pitch the top of 8th by Our Manager Manny Acta, Washington was still only up by two runs (4-2). Facing the heart of Philadelphia's order--Joe was rock solid. This lefthander, with the hitch at the top of his delivery, actually shows the ball to each batter moments before he lets go of the baseball. Never changing his motion mechanics on any of his pitches--Our Number 97 fooled Shane Victorino, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard all in order. Utley doing nothing put swing at air. At times, one of Beimel's off-speed pitches only registered 70MPH on the speed gun. The ball thrown so slowly, you would believe the batter would have the chance to re-coil and swing again. But they couldn't help themselves. Shades of Livan Hernandez on the mound. Like Livo when he's hot--every facing batter is off-balance.
Beimel was totally in control, which are Our Washington Nationals were throughout this entire night. 13 hits tonight by a re-juggled lineup. The top four hitters--Anderson Hernandez, Nick Johnson, Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Dunn combining to provide 8 hits, 4 runs scored and 5 runs batted in. Production seen both at the plate and in the field. An errorless ball game played tonight by Washington. Elijah Dukes looking comfortable in centerfield. Hernandez solid at second base. Alberto Gonzalez maybe one of best fielding shortstops in the game--filling in for the injured Cristian Guzman. Depth shown tonight, especially when Gonzalez floored everyone with his solo homer just inside the foul pole in the bottom of the 8th inning.
Everything Our Washington Nationals did tonight--they performed well. They looked like a team and they played like one. Nick Johnson with 3 hits and a walk batting in the two hole. From top to bottom--tonight's Washington Lineup had some spark.
In the top of the 9th inning, Jayson Werth popped up an offering from Joel Hanrahan--like way up--one of those Major League Popups. Ryan Zimmerman charged from 3rd base. Nick Johnson from 1st, even Hanrahan from the mound. But Jesus Flores WANTED IT. Turning around halfway between home plate and the pitcher's mound--Our Number 3 waved everyone off and then SET SAIL his protective helmet and mask--HE FLUNG IT HARD!!--right at Ryan Zimmerman's legs. As Flores caught the baseball to record out number one--Zimmerman swiftly reached down and caught Jesus' helmet and mask before it took him out. The Defensive Play Of The Game that would have hurt something awful if Z-Man had been struck. And found our friend Jim, visiting us in Section 218 tonight mentioning--"Maybe Zimmerman should at least get an assist on the play?" Ryan deserved something because his reflexes certainly saved him from potential pain. What a play and it will never be recorded in the scorebook--only here for posterity.
For Force 3 Military Appreciation Opening Night--Our Washington Nationals honored some of those who serve our country. There will be five additional Military Nights throughout 2009. Not only were The Blue Jerseys with Stars/Bars "DC" Logo and Cap worn, but two veterans recovering from injuries were given the honor of throwing and catching tonight's first pitch. Sergeant Rafael Delgado threw the pitch after which Our Manager Manny Acta and some of Our Ballplayers thanked these two gentlemen on the field before the game.
When The HDTV Scoreboard shows one of those "Know Your Nats" features. Is there any chance the video can be subtitled? Just like last year, for whatever reason, it's really hard to understand what the players are saying. Tonight's bit with Austin Kearns and Adam Dunn was not understandable. You can not hear them. The same with a feature involving John Lannan. Don't know why, but it just is, and has always been that way.
Staying with the scoreboard--why do the player's position say: Alberto Gonzalez "Short", not "Shortstop". Nick Johnson "1st", not "First Base" Really, it looks odd.
And as frequent Nats320 commenter SenatorNat mentioned the other day, flying high above The HDTV Scoreboard, three new white pennants honoring Washington's Three World Series Teams--1924, 1925 & 1933. Larger and easier to read than the one red 1924 flag that flew just above the scoreboard all of last season.
Teddy came charging out of the centerfield gate during the 4th Inning Presidents Race. Facing his usual stiff competition--Our Lovable Loser faded again. Only to see Tom and Abe put on a face-to-face sprint to the finish line. Just as the two Presidents reached the tape, Tom fell and Abe was originally declared The Winner. But one-half inning later, after further review, Tom was given The Victory--by a fallen hair.
Screech made his first appearance of 2009 in Section 218 during the 1st inning. Playing with the kids in attendance and stopping by to say hello to The African Queen and I.
Every Friday Night Home Game in 2009 is Miller Lite Party Night. $20 ($22 for Premium Games) gets anyone a Pavilion Seat and your choice of one drink (Water/Soda/Beer) to enjoy a baseball game at Nationals Park. The first Party Night this Friday Night when The Florida Marlins come to Natstown.
Before tonight's game a video tribute was given to the late Phillies Broadcaster Harry Kalas who died this past Monday at Nationals Park. The Phillies will wear a black patch with Harry's initials over their left breast uniform jersey for the remainder of the season.
Finally--before tonight's game, Sohna and I decided we were going to check out The Red Porch Restaurant and eat dinner there. Arriving around 5:40PM, we noticed about a dozen or so people waiting in line outside to get in. Fine, we waited for our turn--only to find out that line was--To GET INTO ANOTHER LINE and the second line was to be seated at a table. And of course that would be at least one hour before we were seated? Really? The Park wasn't that crowded, but there were a good many folks in The Red Porch. So Sohna asked if we could sit at the bar? Sure, go right ahead said the lady at the door. Finding seats at the bar, we were then told no food is available at the bar--only drinks. Not being beer drinkers, we ordered two glasses of wine. The Bartender serves up two plastic cups with about 3 sips in each. And then proceeds to tell us that will cost $20. When we question the charge (The Stars & Stripes Homestead Grays Bar sells a cup with actual wine in it for $8 each), The Bartender responds that's the price. She then gives us a bill that reads we ordered Brandy Shots. We question that and are told--the registers are not working right--that's the price though--which it isn't. But what made matters worse was seeing others order beers and cocktails and see the bartender just throw out some price--always way too high than what anyone was expecting. We just paid our bill and left, but something's just not right there.
Of course since we didn't eat at The Red Porch, we decided to get something in The Stars & Stripes Club--but since the line was too long and wasn't moving at The Anacostia Grill--we passed. Later in the game, one guy sitting behind us mentioned he spent 15 minutes in line to buy a soda and hot dog, then had to wait because no hot dogs were ready. And another fan told us there were no peanuts for sale at The Anacostia Grill--even though it's listed on their menu.
This couple purchased The Crab Louie Sandwich for $18. Take a look at how long that cardboard serving boat is. They were laughing over the fact they were hitting each other with the ends of the holder--very large serving and they had two.
InGame Photos--Charles Dharapak (AP)
All Other Photos--Nats320--All Rights Reserved