Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Even the collective exhales of every single Nats Fan remaining among the 17,854 in NatsTown couldn't push that well stroked baseball over the centerfield wall. Josh Willingham had just driven what everyone inside Nationals Park thought was going over the fence. A two strike, two out, down to their last out homer which The Pittsburgh Pirates Nate McLouth tracked all the way to the warning track--to the wall--until McLouth had to leap up the nine foot padded barrier.
AND MADE THE CATCH!! TO END THIS GAME!! The high flying baseball settling into The Pirate Centerfielder's Glove.
The Final Out that had nearly the entire ballpark sighing: "Oh No!!"
Another rally failed.
Another game lost by Our Washington Nationals--like seven in a row.
Another bullpen failure which had gotten everyone to this final point in the first place.
Question--With Jason Bergmann standing on Washington's bullpen mound in the top of the 9th watching--why was Our Number 57 left there while Joel Hanrahan imploded again on the field? In fact, Bergmann warmed up three different times tonight--beginning in the 6th inning and never got in the game. How many pitches did he possibly throw--for sitting this one out?
Why didn't Our Manager Manny Acta trust the fresh arm--instead of the same old, same old that has played out all season long?
When Joel Hanrahan got himself in trouble again BIG TIME in the 9th--during a tie 1-1 affair--why was he left in the game?
And why exactly with two outs and the bases loaded and two strikes on Adam LaRoche--did Our Number 38 continue to throw his slider? The very same pitch he can't control well right now. The very same toss he continually throws in the dirt--short of the plate. The very same one that has lost games for him before? The very same wild pitch that eventually went through Wil Nieves' legs allowing for the game winning run to score?
Joel--why not throw your heater? You can reach 97 MPH on your fastball. Why don't you trust it? Why don't you have the confidence to blow your best stuff past any hitter? Adam LaRoche is no Albert Pujols, nor is he even Adam Dunn. You should be able to get LaRoche for the final out.
Instead, you settled for second best--and were beaten--by yourself.
But you weren't the only one to question why this evening?
How about you Adam Dunn?
Playing leftfield tonight--when The Pirates Jack Wilson scorched a hard grounder down the left field line past Ryan Zimmerman with Andy LaRoche on first base and two outs--why did you JOG TO THE BALL? Why when everyone clearly saw the baseball bounce off the 3rd baseline stands and ricochet back onto the field--why did you not feel it necessary to RUN HARD while LaRoche speeded around the bases? And once you did pick up the ball and Andy was being waved home by Pittsburgh's 3rd Base Coach Tony Beasley--why did you give a half-hearted sidearm sling to your throw home? A poor toss from barely 30 feet behind the infield that scooted past Cristian Guzman--slipped by Ryan Zimmerman and allowed LaRoche to score easily. It wasn't a long throw--but you didn't seem to give it your best effort. Why?
Every run counted tonight because this turned out to be a good pitchers duel. Both Washington's John Lannan and Pittsburgh's Paul Maholm started and threw well all night long. Lannan going seven complete, Maholm six--both leaving having allowed one run apiece.
But once this game ended sadly again for Our Washington Nationals--the only question left to ponder is really Why?
Why did DC's Team give away two scores to The Pittsburgh Pirates?
Why did Our Leftfielder not hustle all the way in an attempt to keep the first run off the board in the 4th?
Why was Jason Bergmann again the Yo-Yo tonight, up and down, up and down--throwing all night and never pitching?
Why was Our Number 57--with the game on the line and Joel Hanrahan again losing this ball game in the 9th--left on the sidelines?
Why did Washington call up Bergmann--if not to use him in this very situation?
Everyone has seen what Hanrahan and Our Bullpen CAN DO? Some would say CAN'T?
It's not been good.
So why not use Jason? What do we have to lose?
It just makes no sense.
Final score from Nationals Park where the baseball played out on the field left many questions to ask--The Pittsburgh Pirates 2 and Our Washington Nationals 1 in yet another ball game that shouldn't have ended in the loss column. Why O Why did The African Queen and I and just about everyone left on South Capitol Street have to PRAY for Josh Willingham's Pinch Hit slam off Matt Capps in the bottom of the 9th to go over the wall--when better execution and better game management might well have led to a more positive ending?
Game Notes & Highlights
John Lannan was really quite excellent tonight. He looked strong, pitched well and was deserving of a better outcome. Instead he received a no-decision. Our Number 31 threw 104 pitches, 72 of which were for strikes. He was in command--to bad his teammates couldn't score enough runs for him.
In his one inning of work--Joel Hanrahan threw 35 pitches, allowed three hits, one walk and the crucial wild pitch scoring Freddy Sanchez with the winning run with the bases loaded.
"The Guz" scored Washington's only run tonight when he hustled on a liner stroked down the leftfield line in the bottom of the 5th. One of those bouncers into the corner at Nationals Park that tends to be hard to recover. As Pittsburgh's Leftfielder Nyjer Morgan scurried to pick up the basball, Cristian Guzman saw the entire play developing in front of him and motored all the way to third base for a rather easy triple. NO ONE runs the bases as well as Guzman. He may not be the fastest man out there, but he cuts corners well and quickly moves from base to base. Once he gets moving--he's terrific on the basepaths. Nick Johnson followed with a single to left to score Cristian with what turned out to be Washington's only run this evening.
"The Guz" with two more hits--now batting .377 for the year. And Nick Johnson stole his first base since August 18th, 2006 right after knocking Our Number 15 home. The 26th of his career. Sohna and I chuckled over watching NJ stealing and actually being safe. Good for him.
And Ryan Zimmerman with a single tonight extending his consecutive games of reaching via hit, walk or hit-by-pitch to 38 games. Although the Z-Man did commit his 5th error of 2009 when he got handcuffed on a hard hit grounder directly at him in the second inning off the bat of Robinson Diaz.
Also, by our count, Sohna and I believe six times Washington Batters laced a line drive--right at a Pittsburgh Fielder. Four times, Nyjer Morgan hardly moved to record four outs. Our Lineup was getting good wood on the ball. But seemingly every time--the baseball went right into a Pirates' Glove.
Wil Nieves should have also gotten a sacrifice bunt down in the bottom of the 9th to advance Willie Harris who had singled before him--but he didn't and ended up slapping into a double play--bringing up Willingham to attempt his heroics.
With Diaz on second base and Andy LaRoche on first with no outs in the top of the 6th--Justin Maxwell made his presence known. The Pirates Jack Wilson lofted a fairly deep fly ball to centerfield. Pittsburgh believed they could run on Justin's strong arm. After Maxwell got the baseball--both Diaz and LaRoche took off--looking to move up one base apiece. Justin UNLOADED a strong throw right on the money to Guzman playing cutoff in the infield. Seeing Diaz run past him, but LaRoche still not near second base--"The Guz" took Maxwell's toss, caught it and immediately threw to Ronnie Belliard covering second to retire LaRoche for The Defensive Play of This Game. A perfectly executed Double Play on a fly out and the use of sharp instincts to throw behind the lead runner. Well done and setup wonderfully by Justin Maxwell. The man can play outfield--no question about that.
Daniel Cabrera has been moved to the bullpen as Craig Stammen is called up from AAA Syracuse to start thursday night. Garret Mock was optioned to Syracuse after tonight's game to make room for Stammen on the 25-Man Roster. Mock DID NOT take the news well--upset over the demotion.
Rushing late to the ballpark tonight--I actually forgot to bring our digital camera. So no extra photos of the off the field stuff tonight--sorry.
But we got a kick out of the Three-Legged Presidents/Pierogies Race. Teddy, Tom, GW & Abe were all tied together with one of their Pittsburgh Racing Counterparts. Teddy's Team was winning all the way. Of course, they did trip each other up and finished last. Abe's team taking the checkered flag.
Finally--when Jason Bergmann was warming up in The Nats Bullpen in the top of the 6th--the electronic billboard directly above his head said "Bergman" warming up. One "N", not the needed "NN". What is with this last names with "NN" that so many can't seem to figure out. Jordan Zimmeramann has the same issue. By the 9th--when Bergmann warmed up for the last time--the electronic billboard was corrected.
Tonight's InGame Photos--Evan Vucci (AP)