Sunday, May 24, 2009
That listing ship maybe better known as "D.C. Nats" has been treading water over the past 11 days of what sadly has come to be known as a bad homestand. Losers of nine out of their last 10 games at Nationals Park, Our Washington Nationals now found themselves weighted down, sinking slowly, attempting to let loose of that anchor around their necks sending them deeper and deeper into the bottom of the league standings.
Almost at the point of drowning.
No question, despite the fine efforts of Our Baby Starters, it's not been pretty in NatsTown.
Make no mistake about it, DC's Team has struggled, unable to put together even an modest winning streak these past 11 days. A predicament now faced with The New York Mets & Philadelphia Phillies up next--on the road--in two of the most challenging cities to play any baseball game.
But for this Sunday--Baltimore was on the schedule. The final game of the opening Battle Of The Beltway Series. The first of two meetings between these two struggling teams in 2009--Home & Away. Engagements that had fallen The Orioles Way these past two nights. Now, with Our Washington Nationals on the precipice of being swept by Our Closest Rival--with bragging rights on the line--something, like anything, had to give.
The African Queen and I can't go to Camden Yards in June knowing Our Team has been swept by Baltimore's in our very back yard. Pride was on the line today, and that ship known as "D.C. Nats" needed to straighten itself out. Pull themselves out of the muck and find any way to move forward--full steam ahead. This was no joke. Our Washington Nationals needed a win.
Of course that Curly "W" seemed out of the question when The Orioles built a three run lead by the end of the top of the 5th inning. A 3-0 advantage that certainly looked like more of the same ole--played out over the past few days. Not even treading water any longer, Our Washington Nationals were sinking ever so deeply into the abyss. Until, when you least expected it, the working men, those sailors on board, mounted the first response.
No one could have predicted that some of those sailors on board--Austin Kearns, Wil Nieves and even Pitcher Shairon Martis would stroke back to back to back doubles off Baltimore's Brad Bergeson in the bottom of the 5th frame--scoring two runs for Washington. An attempt to not just man the life rafts and raise the white flag, but buoy the ship, get "D.C. Nats" head back above water--make a course correction--and push ahead.
A surprising series of events that had the announced crowd of 30,880 back into this ball game. Cheering, awake again and looking for more--wanting the complete comeback--the expected lead. The raising of that weighted anchor that has kept Washington down for so long on this extended home trip. Adam Dunn would raise hope and put Our Washington Nationals back into the lead in the bottom of the 6th with a two run homer to dead centerfield--with Ryan Zimmerman on board.
Playing Captain today, Our Number 44 decided he wasn't going down with the ship. And neither were his crewmates. This game was back on--and would teeter back and forth again before Big Adam decided to take matters into his very own hands.
Yes, that fabulous young centerfielder of The Baltimore Orioles--Adam Jones--countermanded Captain Dunn's latest orders with a blistering message of his very own. A two run homer off Shairon Martis in the top of the 7th inning that stalled "D.C. Nats", put The Vistors back in front 5-4 and again found Washington's engines sputtering--for what turned out to be--thankfully--the last time this Sunday Afternoon. (By the way, love those Gray Away "Baltimore" Script jerseys with City Flag Logo on their sleeves--very nice).
Amazing as it may seem, and despite a dislocated right pinky finger, Anderson Hernandez was back on deck, manning his regular position of second base--after he pinch hit for Ron Villone in the bottom of the 7th. And Anderson led off the most important frame of this game with a seeing eye single to right field off Baltimore's Chris Ray. A repeat performance carried out by Willie Harris when he also slapped a seeing eye single to right, putting runners on 1st and 2nd with nobody out and the very possibility of Our Chief Engineer--Ryan Zimmerman--that so called Franchise Player--up next--to hopefully slam home the tying and go ahead runs.
A moment that had everyone at Nationals Park interested.
Yet with today's boat Captain, Adam Dunn, on deck to follow The Z-Man--who actually believed The Orioles Ship Captain, Dave Trembley, would intentionally walk Ryan? Manager Trembley's thoughts of letting his lefthanded reliever, Jamie Walker, play his own on-deck fireman, would change the very course of the "D.C. Nats" ship this day. Baltimore's skipper believing--The Big & Heavy Fire Power of Dunn was an easier out than getting the always solid stroke of Zimmerman.
Floating on water, each listing ship looking to right itself--the final battle was coming to a head.
Who would sink whom? Did it ever end in grand style!!
What's always been surprising about Adam Dunn is his innate ability to seemingly launch a nothing pitch--a rocket--deeper and deeper into the blue sky. And on this Sunday Afternoon, Our Number 44, The Captain Of "D.C. Nats" this Memorial Day Weekend--arguably one of the most powerful hitters in the game--let it be known. Don't mess with Our Chief Engineer--Zimmy--when Our Captain has his back. Dunn would get ahold of Walker's sixth pitch of this At-Bat and launch it deep to left field, the opposite way for him, and into the visitors bullpen at Nationals Park. Dunn's second home run of this game, 14th of the season--A Grand Slam--which lifted Washington Fans out of their seats. Lifted Our Washington Nationals out of the ever deepening waters--and set this once sinking ship on a new course. All hands were now on deck and it's sailors greeted Our Number 44 in the wheelhouse (the dugout)--thanking him for his course correcting blast. The final salvo that lifted this ship known as "D.C. Nats" out of threatening waters and sailing forward again.
The Anchors Away!! signal was finally sounded. Our Number 44 had personally set off the alarm. And Our Washington Nationals were again moving full steam ahead--bearing down on victory--and realizing all is not lost when teamwork gets you back into the game, levels the ship and pushes everyone ahead, together, as only a real team can.
Pitchers Joe Beimel and Joel Hanrahan would close The O's out over the last two innings of play.
Final Score from Nationals Park where that ship known at "D.C. Nats" set sail to New York City tonight prepared to take on The Mets from Citi Field on Memorial Day Evening--Our Washington Nationals 8 and The Baltimore Orioles 5--in nine satisfying innings. Curly "W" Number 13 of 2009 a much needed grasping of the life ring. The salvation from a crew needing to pull together under tough times and proving, once again, all is not lost. The Bang!! Zoom!! Of The Fireworks!! letting everyone know no team should mess with the top of Our Lineup--nor should they take the bottom half for granted. Washington's is too powerful. You might be able to fool one or two hitters--but when it counts the most--don't mess with Our Engineer, Ryan Zimmerman. That will only upset Our Captain, Adam Dunn--who signed up today to be an anchor himself--depended on when times gets tough.
In manning up, he help lift that heavy anchor weighing down Our Washington Nationals--that collar around Our Necks. With solid starting pitching continuing and a bullpen that has been decent over the past four games, all Washington needs is the re-emergence of their powerful offensive threats again. The final Red Alert that opposing teams must respect, because DC's team is an emerging power, if they can only run a very tight ship.
"D.C. Nats" sailed away from their abyss this afternoon at Nationals Park. Looking to continue this latest successful voyage in Queens and South Philadelphia. Locations where not only must all those heavy anchors be put away, but all hands must again be on deck. But at least for one afternoon--Our Washington Nationals provided the necessary firepower to dislodge themselves from the malaise of a just finished 2-9 homestand at Nationals Park.
Any win is good, but defeating The Orioles and not being swept at home a mark of pride that should leave anyone that roots for Washington proud. And makes it far more easier for The African Queen and I to travel to Baltimore next month for the continuation of this ever intriguing series.
Game Notes & Highlights
Until Our Manager Manny Acta decided to test Shairon Martis for one more inning--the 7th--you could say he had a pretty solid outing. But with no one warming up and Martis allowing a leadoff single to Brian Roberts and a liner of a blast home run to Adam Jones two pitches later--Our Number 39 had lost his lead, his quality start and fortunately settled for a no decision--thanks to Adam Dunn. Martis is very interesting to watch. He never seems overpowering, but he does get outs--consistently so. And when he's in trouble, Shairon tends to bear down and actually perform better. One of the most interesting young players currently on our roster--this 22 Year Old is a solid hitter at the plate, good baserunner--and always make us wonder--how good could he actually be? Fascinating, because no one really knows much about him--everyone learning day by day.
Ron Villone picked up the vulture win when he held The Orioles in the top of the 7th after Martis gave up his Two Run Shot to Jones. And Washington came back to take the lead, thanks to Dunn's Grand Slam. Villone has yet to allow an earned run. He hasn't been perfect, but Ron's been a solid pickup for a beleaguered bullpen.
Joe Beimel pitch a 1-2-3 8th and Joel Hanrahan picked up his 5th save of 2009 when he again came out firing strikes--getting two Orioles to whiff and ended this affair when Aubrey Huff grounded out to Anderson Hernandez at second base.
Speaking of Hernandez, in the top of the 8th, Baltimore's Brian Roberts slashed a liner toward the hole between first and second base. Anderson, in the game as a late inning substitute for Ronnie Belliard, quickly ranged to his left, eventually dove and SNARED the baseball while diving--a split moment before it hit the ground. A terrific play in any game, but nothing compared to the work of Austin Kearns, who made every attempt to outdo himself. Just before Hernandez made his fine play, Robert Andino skied a fly down the right field line--near where the stands jut out toward the field. Our Number 25 ran hard, saw the baseball all the way, and ran hard into the padding--while getting his left foot CAUGHT on top of the barrier. Loosing his balance and falling over--Austin Kearns STILL MADE THE CATCH for the out. An outstanding defensive play, worthy of The Defensive Play of This Game--if not for "Bluegrass'" effort in the very first inning of play.
Nick Markakis would unload on a Shairon Martis pitch to the right field scoreboard wall. A liner that was over Austin's head, but not out of reach. The only problem--the electronic wall and it's chicken coop fencing was nearing. Without fear, Kearns' tracked the baseball all the way--and while crashing into the wall headfirst--MADE THE CATCH!!--then fell down after colliding with the screened fence. Austin Kearns was OK, but that catch was Fabulous. One of three excellent defensive plays this day at Nationals Park worth seeing in person.
Our Offense returned today scorching 12 hits. Willie Harris, Adam Dunn, Austin Kearns and Wil Nieves with two apiece. Dunn with a career high 6 RBI this afternoon. Ryan Zimmerman extended his consecutive games reaching base streak to 42 with a single moments before Dunn's first home run of this game. Dunn now has 39 RBI--that's pretty good folks--getting back on track a little bit at the end of a personally disappointing homestand at the plate for him.
Nick Johnson was pulled from the starting lineup moments before the game start due to what was called stomach discomfort. OK now, NJ is with the team as they head to New York for Monday's Memorial Day Game against The New York Mets.
This Sunday was Kid's Jersey Day at Nationals Park. Each child 12 Years Of Age or younger received a Ryan Zimmerman Jersey or a voucher for a jersey along with a Zimmerman Tee-Shirt from Exxon Mobil. Nothing like watching parents dress their kids in the new outfits right there in Centerfield Plaza.
Cleveland Indians Hall Of Famer, Bob Feller, threw out The Ceremonial First Pitch Today.
In the 4th Inning Presidents Race, Teddy was seeking revenge on The Oriole Bird for taking him out while leading in Saturday Night's Race. With The Bird on the Warning Track in right field--Our Lovable Loser crushed The Bird into the outfield wall, knocked him down, then continuing the race as GW, Tom & Abe ran past. Teddy would finish second, but George would win the race.
Later as part of Washington Nationals Dream Foundation Day at Nationals Park there was a special Dance Off by fans in two different sections to see who would win one of the new Eco-Friendly Curly "W" Totes. The Male Contestant won over the Female, but their efforts were nothing compared to the "Dancing With The Stars" segment which played out high and above the South Capitol Street Ballpark moments later. With Wil Nieves heading to the plate to bat, his salsa batting music again set The "Boys Of Summer" into high spirits. Anyone watching The WFED Radio Broadcast Booth witnessed Charlie Slowes, Dave Jageler and "The Jack Of All Things" swaying to the beat. It's very funny, and I think we now have a large group of regulars in Section 218 looking in anticipation of their act each time Nieves steps to the plate. Funny stuff.
Finally, there may not have been a more thrilling National Anthem nor God Bless America renditions sung at Nationals Park since the ballpark opened in 2008. Five Year Old Kaitlyn Maher sung a wonderful Anthem, then stunned the crowd and nearly every single player on the field with one of the most beautiful God Bless America tributes in some time. The very sight of this very petite young girl singing while every single person on the field craned their necks to personally witness and experience the moment--maybe worth more than the game itself today. She was terrific and I don't think anyone was not smiling at the conclusion of God Bless America. Really touching and a highlight that should be remembered for some time. She was so tiny, yet could bellow out the words. What a moment!!
Today's InGame Photos--Pablo Martinez Monsivais (AP)
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