Saturday, May 02, 2009
Before today, there have been four complete games in the history of Our Washington Nationals. None since 2006 at RFK Stadium, and none better than John Patterson's incredible performance against The Los Angeles Dodgers on August 5th, 2005. One of The African Queen's and my favorite games of All-Time--which occurred just Five short months after Baseball Returned To The Nation's Capital.
Once commonplace in The Great Game Of Baseball, the complete game has become scarcer and scarcer in each subsequent season of Major League Baseball. In the now more modern times, The Set Up Men, The Closers and The Six Inning Quality start has made Going The Distance a rare feat. 100 pitches by any pitcher, many times considered the limit. 150 the minimum expected in the days of Walter Johnson and Cy Young. Those Hall Of Famers and just about every hurler out there during those times--WERE EXPECTED TO PITCH A COMPLETE GAME.
Finish what you start--which made Shairon Martis' terrific performance this afternoon at Nationals Park that much more special. Unexpectedly, Our Number 39 threw the finest game of his young Major League Career. Working quickly and throwing strikes, Shairon did not waste much time. And considering tonight's Washington Nationals Dream Foundation Gala scheduled to begin at 7PM was looming--Martis' quick work was appreciated by many expecting and wanting to attend--not only this game, but that Gala--like The African Queen and I.
So this will be a shorter than normal post, because we really need to get going over to The Gaylord National.
But Shairon Martis showed a competitive side to him not seen since he first came to Washington last season. Pitching with confidence, Martis kept The St.Louis Cardinals hitters off balance all afternoon. He didn't give up a single base hit until two out in the 5th--when Yadier Molina broke up his perfect game with a single up the middle.
And when Our Washington Nationals took advantage of The Cardinals Joel Pineiro in the bottom of the 5th to score four runs, thanks to a key missed drop foul fly off the bat of Ryan Zimmerman by St. Louis First Baseman Chris Duncan--Shairon Martis found his second wind, a even more focused control--a mindset that clearly gave Our Manager Manny Acta every reason to allow The Netherlands Antilles Native to attempt to Go The Distance.
Pitch A Complete Game.
After every single inning Shairon Martis finished this wonderful day, he slowly walked off the mound to The Nationals Home Dugout, with a calm and relaxed looked not seen in his body language so far these first six weeks of the 2009 Season. There was a strut to his walk. The sense that even Martis was believing he now belongs. That last big step of realizing you are not just lucky to be playing Major League Baseball, but good enough to compete and do well.
As Austin Kearns settled under the result of Shairon's 110th and final pitch of this Coming Out Party for Martis. Our Number 39, looked over to Austin catching the final out off the bat of Chris Duncan--looked to the sky, pointed to someone important in his life, and slapped Wil Nieves' right hand in celebration of a job extremely well done.
9 Complete Innings Pitched. Six Hits Allowed. Only One Run (A career first homer off the bat of The Cardinals Colby Rasmus in the 7th) and not ONE SINGLE BATTER WALKED. Not ONE!! The Standing Ovation and Loud Cheers after this victory was completed among those remaining in the announced crowd of 19,950, nearly drowning out pyrotechnics exploding above The South Capitol Street Ballpark.
Final Score from Nationals Park, where a 22-Year Old not only showed promise, but hurled ONE GEM OF A PERFORMANCE. A 6-1 Complete Game effort by Shairon Martis. The Fifth In Washington's short history. The Bang!! Zoom!! Of The Fireworks, setting off a celebration of a rare result, and not just a quality start, but A Complete Team Effort by Our Washington Nationals. Great Pitching, Excellent Defense and Key Hits, when pulling ahead and staying there was all important.
Curly "W" Number 6 of 2009 Was A COMMAND PERFORMANCE not seen in any of the first 22nd games played by Our Washington Nationals.
And Sohna and I haven't felt this good leaving Nationals Park all season. Today's performance brought back found memories of all the good times we cherished during those first three seasons of baseball at RFK Stadium. Those always competitive times when Our Washington Nationals put on a good show most every day and night. We would love to witness more joy like that over the course of the next five months in 2009.
As The African Queen stated upon the finish of this outstanding ball game this afternoon: "Job Well Done!! Let The Party Begin!"
And it will--beginning at 7PM Tonight at The Gaylord National for The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation Gala.
Game Notes & Highlights.
Washington broke this scoreless game open in the bottom of the 5th when our hitters began to get to Pineiro on the mound--pitching for St.Louis. With Martis standing on third, "The Guz" on first, Nick Johnson crushed a drive to dead centerfield--near the "V" Corner of the wall separating leftfield from rightfield. Cardinals Centerfielder Rick Ankiel made The Defensive Play of This Game by throwing his body, back first, against the padded wall, and caught NJ's drive. A terrific catch, that found Ankiel briefly crumbling to the warning track as Shairon scored Washington's first run of the afternoon. Then when Ryan Zimmerman popped a rather routine foul fly slightly down the right field line, dropped by Duncan--Our Washington Nationals took advantage of another true Cardinal Sin--an error--to pull away from St. Louis.
Given a second chance, The Z-Man, who had earlier extended his Nationals Record Hitting Streak to 21 with a first inning double, sharply singled to left moving the motoring Cristian Guzman to third. The Big Setup--of the offensive variety--when Adam Dunn followed and LAUNCHED a Pineiro off-speed pitch into the second tier, The Scoreboard Walk, Section 238--for a well needed Three Run Homer and 4 to 0 lead.
The Game Breaker that gave Shairon Martis and Manny Acta the final confidence needed to finish this masterpiece. Washington added two more insurance runs in the 8th off PJ Walters when Dunn walked, Elijah Dukes pinch ran for him, Austin Kearns ripped a drive to center which Ankiel dove for and missed--resulting in an RBI triple. And Anderson Hernandez singled Austin home with the 6th and final run of this game.
On the second pitch of this game, Hernandez dove face first to his right to snare a hard hit grounder off the bat of The Cardinals Leadoff Batter--Skip Shumaker. A terrific defensive play, also performed by Zimmerman when St.Louis Pinch Hitter Khalil Greene ripped a low liner JUST to the left of Ryan. Zimmy diving, catching the ball a split second before it hit the ground, recording that second out of the 8th inning, and the resultant third, when he quickly doubled off Joe Thurston too far off second base. A quick ending to the 8th, that actually gave Martis an even better chance of completing this game.
Hispanic Heritage Day at Nationals Park included the handing out of Los Nacionales Tee-Shirts to basically everyone in attendance. The first 20,000 received them. The announced crowd was less than that.
Whenever Latino Salsa Music was played as batting music as certain players of Our Washington Nationals stepped to the plate, Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler--into Today's Theme--and were seen dancing in the broadcast booth high above Nationals Park.
And Our Racing Presidents performed a relay today. Teddy teamed with Abe. George with Tom. Tom pulled away for the victory.
Today's InGame Photos--Alex Brandon (AP)
All Other Photos--Nats320--All Rights Reserved