Sunday, May 17, 2009
Cheers were heard all around Nationals Park. Folks were going wild!! Two runners had just scored the game tying and go ahead runs in the 8th inning. And Sadly, Fans Of Our Washington Nationals sat in their seats stunned. Bewildered over what they had just witnessed. Those loud noises being reverberated around the South Capitol Street Ballpark were from Phillie Fanatics. Visitors from Our Most Disliked Rival--The Defending Champions. All of whom had taken over Washington's Ballpark this weekend, stomping and rooting their team on to victory. In fact, four consecutive times--a series sweep. The latest of which happened in the most stunning of fashions.
Our Washington Nationals were winning 6 to 5--ahead by one heading to the top of the 8th inning. The time of worry for so many Washington Fans this season. Recurring troubles from our bullpen that rose again when Mr. Enthusiasm started this key frame on the perfect low note. Having Philadelphia's dangerous Jayson Werth down 0-2 in the count--Julian Tavarez inexplicably surrendered a two strike single by serving a hittable pitch over the plate. A concern that was even worse when Our Number 50 walked the next hitter, Shane Victorino, on five pitches. Another deteriorating scenario that would soon lead to The Defensive Miscue Of This Game.
As Julian Tavarez slammed HIS right pitching hand into HIS left glove hand in disgust--Our Manager Manny Acta slowly walked to the mound with HIS hands sternly placed inside his coat jacket pockets. The indication that Manny was pissed, upset over yet another reliever not getting the job done. A now no outs--runners on first and second situation with Bling-Bling!! coming in to pitch. The latest bullpen effort to stop the bleeding. The resultant play to be dissected for some time.
On the very first pitch that Jesus Colome threw to Pedro Feliz--The Phillies 3rd Baseman laid down a terrific bunt moving slowly on the grass, near the 3rd baseline between the pitcher's mound and the bag. One of those you better GIVE YOUR ALL EFFORTS to get the batter out. Skill which Ryan Zimmerman has the ability to make the play. The chance denied when Jesus Colome quickly snatched the ball from The Z-Man's glove--moments before the rolling baseball entered his mitt. The confusion which directly led to THE GAME CHANGING MOMENT FOR THIS DAY. As Our Number 43 picked up the ball, Zimmerman ran through Colome's bare handed pick up of the baseball. The important IGNI-SECOND when Anderson Hernandez lost track of the play.
Believing Our Number 11 had simply missed the baseball, Our Second Baseman--covering first base to get the hard charging Feliz--stepped off the base--thinking the play was over. ANDERSON HERNANDEZ NEVER REALIZED JESUS COLOME HAD THROWN A PERFECT STRIKE TO FIRST BASE. Giving up on the play, Colome's on target throw sailed past Hernandez, past Feliz and all the way down into the right field corner--where Adam Dunn had failed to back up the play. Anderson nearly got hit in the head with Bling-Bling's Toss and was scared out his wits he would injured upon realizing a hardball was heading his way. Of all things to be hurt, disabled FOR NOT PAYING ATTENTION.
A brutal error that found both Werth and Victorino scoring easily the 6th and 7th runs of the game for Philadelphia. And despite what Manny Acta said in the post-game press conference that Anderson Hernandez told him that he lost the baseball in the white shirts sitting along the 3rd base stands--television replays clearly showed--Anderson had simply lost sight of what was actually happening on the field. He EXPECTED Zimmerman to make the play, not Colome--and his mental error had set The Philadelphia Faithful into a FRENZY. Two of whom sitting directly to The African Queen's and my left in Section 218 stated: "Are you guys really that bad?"
We remained silent--not giving in to an obvious challenge. While inwardly consoling ourselves that Our Washington Nationals had found YET ANOTHER WAY TO LOSE A BALLGAME--frustratingly so--to The Philadelphia Phillies and their very loud and obnoxious fans.
No it turned out to not be a good afternoon at Nationals Park. Another blown save, another deflating loss. The third straight day that Our South Capitol Street Ballpark turned into Citizen Bank Park South. No question about it--The Phillie Fans took over this weekend and Sohna and I found it saddening to be out gunned, out cheered and out manned by Philadelphia's so called finest. But we where there, cheering Our Washington Nationals on--supporting them through four straight losses. And when that day does come when DC's Team is an elite franchise and Philadelphia or any other visiting ballclub's fans DO NOT control Nationals Park, please give credit to those that suffered through another visiting sweep--keeping hope alive when so many others have already given up. Those that will claim to have been there all along--standing behind Our Washington Nationals. False bravado proclaimed by front runners that only support a winner--not caring about the growing pains.
Final Score from Nationals Park where it wasn't just the bullpen this time--a DEFENSIVE LAPSE turned this latest game around. The Philadelphia Phillies 8 and Our Washington Nationals 6 in another bad loss. Manny stated after the game, we might as well lose with fresher talent than just the same old, same old. So you gotta believe even more changes are coming--not just the emergency call-up of Ross Detwiler to pitch Monday Night against The Pittsburgh Pirates.
Bring It On--and when you do so--can we please add Jason Bergmann now? Jason has got to be better than some of the many we have currently.
Washington now with 11 Wins and 25 Losses--sinking deeper into a ever larger growing crevase. A plunge that may be difficult to recover from in 2009.
Game Notes & Highlights
Jordan Zimmermann had no command of his pitches today. Everything up in the strike zone. He really struggled, but what's important to understand is that J-Z is striking out far more hitters than walking them (32 to 11). He has all the tools. HIs ERA is not that significant for a rookie learning to pitch in The Big Leagues. Of all the issues Our Washington Nationals may well have right now--Our Number 27 is the least of their worries. That young man can pitch, he just needs more experience. Never have I seen a guy battle every single hitter he faces like Jordan Zimmermann. When he figures it all out, he's going to be outstanding--that I have no doubt.
"The Guz" continues to wield a hot bat. Three more singles today, now batting a League High .381. But Cristian Guzman does not qualify for the National League lead--because he missed so much time on the disabled list earlier. One of the biggest free swingers in the game, no one can say Our Number 15 is not one of the best players on our team. What a difference from his 2005 campaign--which was arguably one of the worst seasons EVER by any starting shortstop. He might not have been doing so before--but Guzman is certainly earning his money over the past two campaigns.
Nick Johnson two more hits today--now batting .333. Guzman and Johnson combining for 5 of Washington's 6 scores today. Can we please finally end the Alex Cintron Experiment? A weak pinch hit ground out for Zimmermann in the bottom of the 5th. Sorry, but he's not helping right now. And we need ALL HANDS ON DECK!!
Effort which Adam Dunn performed late this afternoon in the most unexpected way. New Nats Killer Raul Ibanez RIPPED a liner to deep right field, near the Out Of Town Scoreboard. Not known for his defensive prowess, Our Number 44 ran as fast as his thick legs would take him and JUST WHEN EVERYONE THOUGHT the screaming baseball would sail right past him, Dunn leaped as high as his bulky weight would take him--like all of maybe 10 inches (Michael Jordan he is not)--and SNARED THE LINER IN HIS LEFT HAND--his glove hand for what was truly THE DEFENSIVE PLAY OF THIS GAME!! For all his deficiencies in the field, well documented here, you have to give Adam Dunn GREAT CREDIT for hustling all the way and making the best of a very difficult catch. Well done for the big guy with not a lot of speed moving forward or sideways.
Lower attendance certainly means more seats available to purchase and with DC's Team struggling on the field of play--Philadelphia Patrons are going to find Nationals Park an attractive outlet for those PHILLY FANS who can't normally sit at Sold Out Citizens Bank Park. It's the nature of the beast. When you are good, coming off a World Series Championship--you travel well. Washington, DC--just 150 Minutes away by car from the so called City Of Brotherly Love--makes for the perfect destination stop--especially on a weekend. The opportunity to take over a visiting ballpark. One in which--the home fans have wilted on--sadly so for The African Queen and I.
Before today's game, The African Queen and I attended The Smithsonian Institute's Meeting in Conference Room 4 at Nationals Park. The 11AM Get Together with Team President Stan Kasten, Interim GM Mike Rizzo, Our Manager Manny Acta, Pitcher Garrett Mock and Roving Instructor, Spring Training Coach (and Multiple Gold Glove Winner in his playing days) Devon White headlining an impressive hour long Q & A with some seriously minded Smithsonian Associates. This may well have been the best give and take involving Our Washington Nationals in some time. Really some great questions and well moderated by Phil Hochberg. The long time Public Address Announcer at RFK/Fed Ex Field for The Washington Redskins and lawyer to many professional sports leagues and teams.
Much more coming on this event in the next few days (I just need to transcribe the meeting), but the most noteworthy comment coming from Mike Rizzo. Asked if Stephen Strasburg is drafted and signed by Our Washington Nationals in the upcoming June Draft--can fans expect Strasburg to be in a Washington Nationals Uniform this season?
MIke Rizzo: "Strasburg cannot pitch in The Major Leagues this season." Rizzo went on to say that Stephen needs to learn the professional game and Washington wouldn't want to overwork him early after such a demanding Senior Collegiate Career. It's possible (and this is our speculation), Washington might shut him down when signed, just to give him a break. Rizzo didn't deny that when Sohna and I chatted with him briefly today.
While attending The Smithsonian Associates Meeting, the video monitors around Nationals Park showed the upcoming Signature Sunday's Player Schedule. When this program first started in 2008, The Main HDTV Scoreboard would display the Sunday participants during the previous Saturday's Home Game. Is it possible this listing could continue for 2009? It's very helpful. And we would imagine if fans knew IN ADVANCE that Garrett Mock, Austin Kearns, Jesus Flores and John Lannan were available before deciding to attend--that might well better interest some fans in purchasing tickets. Just a thought, not a complaint.
Today was also Kids Giveaway Day. The first 10,000 Children 12 and Under received a very nice Nationals Curly "W" Red Jersey Drawstring Bag--courtesy of Smithfield. Really, it was nice and many children seemed to enjoy the gift.
Of course this was also Kids Run The Bases Day. During each Sunday Home Game, children can run the bases as their parents watch after the conclusion of the ball game.
Washington Capitals Captain, Chris Clark (yeah, the hockey team), was on hand at Nationals Park today in Presidents Club. And was interviewed by Clint during a break in play. Clark received a very nice ovation from the 29, 577--the largest baseball crowd since Opening Day.
And what do you do when you are wearing a short sleeve jersey and shorts during a well below normal spring day with temperatures barely reaching 55 Degrees? Well, if you are NatPack Member Ray, you wear a stylish Red, White & Blue Scarf around your neck. Sohna and I noticed him earlier on the field during the Tee-Shirt Launch, but when Ray and Clint showed up in nearby Section 217 to hand out Red NatsTown Tee Shirts as Randon Acts Of Red--the sight of Ray with his scarf on was too good to not pass up. Ray's aviator shades adding to his image.
TEDDY WAS WINNING ALL THE WAY in the 4th inning Presidents Race. In fact, the crowd cheering on his lead may well have been the loudest of this day. EVERYONE WAS UP ON THEIR FEET, possibly expecting the impossible. It was loud!! But Teddy, well out in front, tripped running down the right field line--to the dismay of many. The sighs of disbelief spreading as ABE again took advantage of opportunity and easily beat out Tom for Victory.
Finally--And that 1924 Washington Senators World Series Pennant above The HDTV Scoreboard? It might well be pretty close to flying off--AGAIN. Attached for yesterday's doubleheader--today--the strong winds were whipping that banner something awful. Someone's got to fix that--and soon--before it flies away.
Tonight's InGame Photos--Evan Vucci (AP)
All Other Photos--Nats320 (All Rights Reserved)