Friday, May 08, 2009
Notes From Last Night's Thrilling Victory
Important notes to take from last night's electrifying victory at Dodger Stadium.
Jordan Zimmermann learned that he doesn't have to challenge every single hitter with his 95 MPH Heater. J-Zimm was touched up badly in the first inning for six earned runs (one a direct result of Elijah Dukes and Adam Dunn not calling a routine fly ball). But he didn't give up and for five more inning Jordan more effectively used his off-speed pitches, using his fastball to set up The Dodger Batters. 10 straight hitters retired a one point. Zimmermann did not figure in the final decision, but he may well have figured out how to pitch to quality Major League Batters--who are learning about him. I'll take that as good sign.
Our Washington Nationals can score runs in bunches and fight back from most any deficit. It's just too bad our bullpen has played so poorly. You can't take back any of the losses, but it's reasonable to say Washington could be near .500 if not for the faltering relievers.
Our Bullpen is still killing us. Thankfully, Our Offense appears immune to the relievers plight and keeps plugging away--getting on base, slugging. You gotta like that. 18 hits by Washington last night, 9 from the first four hitters in our lineup--Guzman, Johnson, Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Dunn. Except for Jordan Zimmermann, every other starter had just one hit.
Anderson Hernandez is proving a quality 8th hitter in the batting order--getting on base and scoring runs.
Josh Willingham needs to play more. He proved last night why he is a valuable asset. One home run, one double, two runs scored and an RBI. Josh also made a nice diving catch playing left field.
Nick Johnson is back. NJ looks really good and seems to be getting better and better each passing day. Very proud of a man that can continually fight back from injury, maintain his professionalism and produce on the field--in a very helpful way.
Cristian Guzman made one of the finest plays of his career when he slid to his left on a sharp ground ball off the bat of Xavier Paul in the bottom of the sixth. With Casey Blake running hard from 1st to 2nd, "The Guz"--while still sliding--scooped the ball with his left handed glove, and while still moving past Anderson Hernandez standing on 2nd base, had the wherewithal to backhand flip the baseball directly out of his mitt to Hernandez. Anderson quickly firing a relay toss to Nick Johnson at first base to retire Paul for The Defensive Play of This Game and maybe the best of the year--so far. It was a terrific catch and toss.
And speaking of defense--Washington needs to quit giving away outs. Last night's misplay in the first inning by Elijah Dukes and Adam Dunn of Blake's routine fly was inexcusable. CALL THE BALL!! You can't blame crowd noise or anything else. Our fielders need to take charge of every pop up. Much like Anderson Hernandez who waves his arms violently to let EVERYONE know "I GOT IT!!" Fundamental Baseball Guys.
Finally, The African Queen and I thought Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler on WFED were going to blow fuses if Washington had thrown away the bottom of the 9th inning--leading by four runs heading into the frame. When Charlie mentioned a "Circuit Breaker" no other description was more apt. A Perfect Call. Instead Our Washington Nationals survived their latest ordeal and head to Phoenix with their spirits lifted.
Something that can't be said about The Dodgers. As mentioned previously--I've made my peace with the steroids issues. But it's just shameful that more players feel they can still beat the system. Manny Ramirez has always been enjoyable to watch. We don't feel sorry for Manny today. He gambled and lost and must now pay the price.
Suffering which Bob Melvin must be doing today. Just two years ago National League Manager of The Year, now fired as skipper of The Diamondbacks. In baseball, it's always what have you done for me lately.
InGame Photo--Hector Mota (AP)