Wednesday, June 24, 2009
They just kept on coming.
When The African Queen and I arrived at Nationals Park at 4:55PM, there must have already been 5,000 ticket holders to tonight's game already inside Center Field Plaza or standing around The Miller Lite Scoreboard Walk--watching Batting Practice, hanging out at The Red Porch, waiting to rush down to the visitors dugout at 5:30PM when remainder of the stadium opened for business.
Red Sox Nation had invaded The Nation's Capital and in doing so provided some serious energy not seen for any baseball game involving Our Washington Nationals in their new ballpark. Minute by minute, BoSox Dressed Fans came pouring into Nationals Park. A Home Game for The AL East Leaders--395 miles south of Fenway Park.
It was an incredible site--no doubt about it. But to their credit, Red Sox Fans were friendly--at least the one's Sohna and I came across. And in fact, except for the four folks sitting to our immediate left in the front row of Section 218 this evening--just about EVERYONE else there was cheering for The Boston Red Sox.
For nearly seven innings, Our Washington Nationals and Our Faithful Fans among the largest crowd in ballpark history (41,517) put up one decent fight. When you are the underdog in your very own stadium, the true home fans are going to do whatever they can to out cheer the rival. Proudly, we did well tonight despite what was certainly--at least--a 65% to 35% Boston Advantage. Of course, a three all tie after six complete had a lot to do with it. Also, some fine defensive plays--including a few more goodies by Willie Harris in centerfield. But when Ryan Zimmerman committed his 9th error of 2009 on a poor throw on a routine grounder hit by Kevin Youkilis with one out in that 7th frame, everything slowly began to unravel.
Of course, Youkilis would score the go ahead run moments later making the score 4 to 3 Boston.
Of course, Red Sox Nation would whoop it up! Again take over South Capitol Street.
And of course, Our Shaky Bullpen-solid of late in attempting to keep games close--would come out in the top of the 8th and completely collapse.
Our Washington Nationals got Sawx'd.
After Ron Villone allowed a leadoff single, Our Manager Manny Acta immediately came out of the dugout and signaled for Kip Wells--who proceeded to walk two of the three batters he faced. The last of whom was also Youkilis--making it really hard to differentiate between Boston Fans calling "YOOOOUK!" and Washington Fans bellowing "BOOOO!"
With the help of Washington's Relief Corp, a fire began to burn with the bases now loaded and just one out for Boston. Manny called for "Bling-Bling" to put out these burning embers--leaving the more reliable Joe Beimel warming up in the bullpen. And by the time Jesus Colome finished his extraordinary six batter appearance, Our Number 43 had not only fueled those flames but had torched it into a ravaging blaze. Throwing nothing but fastballs, Boston Sawx'd Colome all over Nationals Park. Three singles and a triple by Jacoby Ellsbury had quickly put this game out of reach.
As "Let's Go Red Sox!!" cascaded down from throughout all parts of Nationals Park, six runs scored for Boston--swiftly sending many fans up and out of their seats--heading towards the exits. What was an exciting close game had turned quickly into a rout. A disappointing turnaround after a really fine start for Washington. Having battled to a draw for six hard fought innings--Our Washington Nationals had let another possible Curly "W" slip away.
Like good teams always do, Boston capitalized on a Washington error. Then proceeded to hammer the baseball all over South Capitol Street to close this one out going away. Final Score from Nationals Park where 17 hits and six walks allowed usually means you've been beaten--and badly--The Boston Red Sox 11 and Our Washington Nationals 3 in what turned out to be a wipe out.
Sawx'd is the only why to describe it.
But what a great crowd!! It was fun at the ballpark tonight. Even helicopters were flying around taking aerial photos of the turnout. Sohna and I can't wait for the day when Nationals Park is filled to such capacity on a daily basis because the drawing card is Our Washington Nationals--and not The Visiting Team.
Game Notes & Highlights
John Lannan struggled tonight. Yeah, he received the so called "quality start" but he wasn't overly effective. Throwing behind in the count, he got beat repeatedly on the mound. Eventually leaving with 9 hits allowed, two walks and three earned runs scored over 6.1 innings. Boston's Jason Bay taking him deep and into the Red Porch Seats in the top of the 2nd on a full count. A fastball that was crushed. Bay, in fact, turning himself into a nice all-around talent. A worthy successor for Manny Ramirez in left for Boston. Also someone with a long-term future as a Red Sox.
Bay and Jacoby Ellsbury with four hits apiece tonight for Boston. Bay with three runs scored, 3 RBI. Ellsbury with two triples, 3 RBI. Reigning AL MVP Justin Pedroia with three hits and two runs scored. Kevin Youkilis with two hits, two runs scored and two RBI. Those guys can the hit the baseball, there is no question about that. And having never seen Pedroia play in person, it was absolutely stunning how tiny he is. What a player!!
Julian Tavarez was pegged with the loss after Ryan Zimmerman booted Youkilis' grounder in the 7th, then allowed a broken bat single to Jason Bay and intentional walk to Mike Lowell. Jason Varitek then knocked a sacrifice fly to left to score Youkilis with what eventually became the game winning run.
Wells: 0.1 innings pitches--two walks, two runs allowed. Colome:0.2 innings pitched--4 hits, three runs, an ERA now at an atrocious 8.25. Honestly, "The Human Rain Delay" was bad tonight. He was just throwing nothing but fastballs right over the middle of the plate--providing Batting Practice for Boston. Wells & Colome cost Washington the game this evening. Joel Hanrahan, in a mop up role, gave up an additional run in the top of the 9th. All three did not get the job done.
Adam Dunn ripped a double down the right field line--just past a diving Youkilis at 1st base for Boston--in the bottom of the 1st inning scoring Ryan Zimmerman--who he had singled before him. A drive by Dunn that bounced off the front of the right field line bleachers and caromed back into short right field. The ricochet allowing The Z-Man to score easily as J.D. Drew had problems picking up the baseball. Zimmerman would score again in the bottom of the 4th from 3rd on a wild pitch by Boston's Brad Penny. Washington had loaded up the bases on Our Number 11's second consecutive single and two walks with one out, but could only push across that one score. And closed out their scoring for the evening when Josh Bard scored all the way from 1st base (quite an achievement when you realize how slow Bard runs) on a two-out double down the right field line by Willie Harris. Josh Bard looked like he was running in slow motion--but still managed to JUST get home--slapping his left hand down on home plate, seconds before Jason Varitek applied the tag--tying this game at three.
Speaking of Harris, using his speed, he made three very nice running catches in centerfield tonight which minimized or ended Boston rallies. But in bottom of the 3rd inning, Nick Johnson lashed a hard ground ball toward second base--just to the right of the bag. With Cristian Guzman stealing on the play, "The Guz" was nearly on top of the base as the ball headed in the same spot. Boston shortstop Nick Green ranged across second base, reached the ball at the same time as Our Number 15 and collided with Guzman. Yet Green still had the moxie to throw the baseball to first base to double off NJ for The Defensive Play of This Game. It was a very nice play.
You have to love Kevin Youkilis' Batting Stance--feet close together, knees bent, hands up high above his head and his right hand barely gripping the baseball bat. Then, as the pitch is about to be delivered that right hand slips down and grips the bat just above his left fist. A very unique style that works for him.
Tee-Shirt Tuesday featured a very nice white with Red, White & Blue Patriotic Curly "W" Tee-shirt. Even when we arrived near 5PM, there didn't seem to be many left to hand out. The first 10,000 in attendance received them.
Near The Kids Zone in Centerfield Plaza--The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation set up a special Dunk Tank. For $5 any fan could take three throws to knock someone into the water wearing either a New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles or Philadelphia Phillies Shirt. All proceeds going toward The Dream Foundation's charities. Funny actually.
A moment of silence was taken before tonight's game in remembrance of those lost in Metro's tragic accident on Monday evening near the Fort Totten Metro Station.
In the 4th Inning Presidents Race, Teddy came out on a Unicycle--and of course did not win. In fact, Our Lovable Loser did not even complete the race. George and Abe raced hard to the finish before Abe pulled away for his 17th win of the year.
Wherever you looked tonight, people were hanging out--everywhere. This crowd was just huge!!
And provided--by far--the loudest and largest standing ovation EVER since the inception of The Welcome Home Salute to Our Troops recovering at Walter Reed in the middle of the 3rd Inning. The Entire Boston Red Sox Team Standing and Joining Into The Moment. Very Touching.
Finally, funny but true. Before the game even began--we are sitting inside The Stars & Stripes Club eating dinner. Sohna once again choosing the Teddy's Barbecue Short Rib (Now quickly becoming known as the Fred Flintstone Brontosaurus Bone--Yabba!! Dabba!! Do!!) and me the Florida Cuban Sandwich from the "Taste Of The Majors" stand behind Section 117 (The Short Rib is really good--The Cuban Sandwich terrific). These four Red Sox Fans walk past us seated by a window overlooking the South Capitol Street Bridge. One stops and pronounces: "Hey look guys!! There are actually two Nationals Fans here!!"
We actually started laughing in the spirit of it all. And these guys understood the fun as well. Then this one Boston Fan says to us: "I got to tell you. We love Fenway Park, the field, The Green Monster, everything that has to do with the game on the field. But when it comes to amenities--THIS PARK IS FABULOUS!! I wish we had stuff like this in Boston."
And he meant it. "There is so much to do here before the game. We've been here since the gates opened at 4:30PM, and we haven't sat down until now," The Red Sox Fan concluded. He then proceeded to get on his Iphone and call everyone he could think of and tell them about his experience. Nice.
Tonight's InGame Photos--Manuel Balce Ceneta (AP)
All Other Photos--Nats320--All Rights Reserved