Saturday, May 09, 2009
What was Eric Byrnes thinking? Standing on second base with one out in the bottom of the 8th. His Arizona Diamondbacks down one run with FLop at the plate. Felipe Lopez has been hot all season--already had three hits tonight for the snakes. And Eric Brynes ran himself out of scoring position by attempting to steal third base off Julian Tavarez's slow delivery to the plate. An ill advised move that resulted in Jesus Flores slamming the door shut with a perfect throw to Ryan Zimmerman--right on the bag. The Defensive Play of This Game and really the final pivotal moment of a hardy victory by Our Washington Nationals.
No longer just showing promise, Washington is going out on the field and beating opponents. Now victors of three out of their last 4 and, not counting the suspended game last Tuesday against Houston, four out of five. Confidence building which comes from a starting lineup that is getting more comfortable working together and the realization they are a very good offensive club. Better than expected and as good as most teams in their very own league.
One through eight in Our Batting Order is pretty tough. Individually, other teams have more stars. Collectively, Washington has a more cohesive unit. Just look at tonight. "The Guz" hasn't walked all year from the leadoff spot, but he hammered out a two run triple to put his team ahead in the top of the 2nd. Adam Dunn unloaded with his 8th Homer of 2009 in the 3rd. And the ever improving Flores added his 4th Dinger in the 4th inning.
In fact, this was Jesus Flores' night. Not only did he throw out Byrnes to kill The D-Backs last threat, but he slammed that homer in the 4th and knocked in Washington's last run on a broken bat single to left center--scoring Austin Kearns in the 6th. Just watching Our Number 3 take control and haul in two Major League Pop Up foul balls off Arizona Bats this evening proved how far this young man has travelled. Two years ago, when Washington was carrying Flores on the 25-Man Roster only because he was a Rule V Pick--Jesus had troubles with foul flies--turning around and catching the back spinning balls. Not a problem anymore and the signs of an ever growing quality catcher that wants to get better and better and better.
The All Star Caliber level which Ryan Zimmerman continues to perform at. This evening continuing his Washington Nationals Record Hitting Streak to 26 games with a clean single to left in his first plate appearance. One of two hits on the night for the Z-Man, now batting a robust .339.
That professional approach to everything he does on the field, which Shairon Martis also continues to excel at. Not considered at the beginning of Spring Training to even make the Opening Day Roster, Our Number 39 didn't participate in The World Baseball Classic for his native Netherlands. Instead, he came to camp, ready to pitch, made a name for himself and look at Martis now? The team leader in wins with four and a building confidence of a 22 Year Old Starter that is surprising alot of folks in Major League Baseball. Once the weak link in the roster, Our Starting Pitching is looking far better than the first week of April, 2009. Martis, Jordan Zimmermann and Scott Olsen have all been good. John Lannan has been up and down. Daniel Cabrera a struggle to watch. Just imagine what that starting rotation will look like if Our Washington Nationals pick and sign Stephen Strasburg with the 1st Overall Pick in the 2009 June Entry Draft?
A very competitive outlook on the horizon--and with more consistency out of the back end of our bullpen, the won-lost record will continue to climb upward--in a positive direction.
Help is certainly on the way, but some of that assistance has already arrived. Washington's powerful offense has proven that fact.
But what was really nice about tonight's effort was the result being just a conventional win. Good pitching, defense and timely hitting--all on the road. Our Washington Nationals didn't blow The Arizona Diamondbacks out of their very own park. But they did beat them--with self assurance.
Mettle shown--understanding now more what they are capable of accomplishing.
Final Score from Chase Field in Phoenix, where the roof was open on a 91 degree evening and that's considered "COOL" in the desert--Our Washington Nationals 5 and The Arizona Diamondbacks 4 in a win that showed poise. Curly "W" Number 9 of 2009 exhibiting the new Backbone of Washington. Don't ever give up, don't ever back down, and just when you think all might not be going your way--display a determination--the nerve to settle down--and work your way through any situation.
Team Building is well underway and Our Washington Nationals are beginning to focus on how good they could possibly become--now and even more so in the very near future. Maybe not world beaters yet, but certainly aggressive enough to worry their opponents into believing DC's Team is no longer a walkover. Now combative and looking to take their game to the next level.
This was a very good win over The Snakes.
PS--Very strange to see both Felipe Lopez and Big Jon Rauch play for Arizona this evening . FLop ran himself out of Washington and no one really missed him, but The Wookie is a entirely different story. Rauch was a very good set up man in previous years and a decent closer last season for Washington--before he was traded. An Original Washington National that The African Queen and I will always remember fondly. Like when Chad Cordero and Luis Ayala on top of their games, we miss those three in the back end of Our Bullpen.
Tonight's InGame Photos--Matt York (AP)