Sunday, June 21, 2009
The Thirst Of Victory
Nationals Park Had Erupted.
Bullpen Catcher Nelson Robledo had just caught the game winning hit--in Our Washington Nationals Bullpen.
Those left among the 22,142 were celebrating in full force.
Team President Stan Kasten thrust his right arm up triumphantly into the sky--while standing in Presidents Club.
The African Queen nearly jumping into my arms--In Great Joy.
And Our Washington Nationals were rushing out onto the field--delirious over another last at-bat victory. The second in as many nights over an American League Team and former Canadian Rival.
But even before Willie Harris could reach home plate to celebrate his game winning home run--his teammate and tonight's winning pitcher--Julian Tavarez TACKLED OUR NUMBER 22 about 15 feet before the finish line.
That momentary confusion didn't matter.
Bedlam had broken out. In fact, had been on the brink for some time.
Willie Harris' two run shot off The Toronto Blue Jays Scott Richmond in the bottom of the 12th was the culmination, of just maybe, the rejuvenation of Our Fan Base. All night long--everyone was into this game--stomping, cheering, downright excited throughout. There was a different feel tonight on South Capitol Street. Even when Clint came out in the bottom of the 9th with the score tied--and attempting to arouse the crowd in support of Our Washington Nationals--EVERYONE GOT UP, CHANTING AND CHEERING!! The African Queen just looked at me stunned. Even in Section 218, Club Level, fans were on the feet!! What's going on here? What's everybody drinking? We had never seen that excitement at Nationals Park--only at RFK Stadium.
The satisfying thirst of victory was at hand--wanted and desired.
All night long, Our Fans vocally supported Our Washington Nationals when DC's Team took an early 3-1 lead.
They rooted for Ross Detwiler--who for seven strong innings pitched the finest game of his very young career. But sadly did not get the win.
They stood and clapped, appreciative of Our Rookie Number 48 this evening when Our Manager, Manny Acta, removed him from the game. Everyone realizing--Detwiler has exceeded the expectations originally imagined. And that's pretty exciting too. Now a player to be considered seriously.
Our Fans didn't get down when Joel Hanrahan blew Ross' lead moments later.
They didn't bow out or lose interest as this game slowly moved through the 9th, 10th, 11th and finally that 12th & Final Deciding Inning.
Yeah, Our Washington Nationals withstood all the joys and pains playing a Major League Baseball Game this evening at Nationals Park. So did Our Fans. Those Ups & Downs that need to be tempered, worked through, survived, until Ultimate Opportunity Knocks at the door. The patience needed to win--which finally occurred--3 hours and 30 minutes after this affair officially began.
Washington and Toronto were locked up in a 3 all tie. Since Hanrahan's blown save in the 8th--neither team had taken advantage of the other. But when Alberto Gonzalez (and try to tell me this young man HAS NOT been a contributor since his recall from Syracuse because you would be wrong) singled off Richmond leading off the bottom of the 12th--honestly, you could feel something special was in the air. And it had nothing to do with the GAZILLION Moths flying all over and around Nationals Park.
As annoying as those bugs were, that other well known competitive pest for Our Washington Nationals--Willie Harris--was ready to inflict some serious damage himself. No question, Our Number 22 has the sense for the dramatic. Great Catches (in fact another one tonight) and key hits at opportune times. And when Manny decided to bunt Our Number 22 and The Toronto Pitcher didn't give Willie a pitch to sacrifice--you had figure Harris had the advantage. Don't EVER give an aggressive hitter the chance to NOT give himself up. That's mostly only going to lead to sorrow. Not surprisingly, exactly what Scott Richmond failed to understand--came back to haunt him.
Zealous as always, Willie drilled a liner down the right field line on the second pitch of this game deciding At-Bat. Foul!! But as it turned out, Harris' clout was the harbinger of things to soon come. Interestingly, the roar from the crowd was nearly deafening. Those on hand still hadn't given up. And when Scott Richmond eventually served in a full count off-speed pitch right into the wheelhouse of one of quickest bats in the game--Our Fans were duly rewarded!!
Willie had slammed out the very first Game-Ending Home Run of his career. A two-run shot into the Washington Bullpen in rightfield scoring Alberto Gonzalez before him with the winning run, while Harris was trampled rounding third base by Tavarez. "Mr Enthusiasm" so excited he eventually pulled up the diminutive Harris and knuckle skulled his closely shaven head.
That was fun, exciting and down right thrilling. And without a doubt--shades of a completely different team.
This was not Our Washington Nationals of poor pitching, no clutch hitting, and terrible defense witnessed throughout most of these first 66 Game Played.
This was not a Fan Base EXPECTING to see a loss.
No Washington was not perfect.
But for the first time all season--Our Fans Stood Behind DC's Team--all night long. They didn't give up. And Washington didn't relent.
The Faithful rewarded in clearly one of the best FEEL GOODS of this so far disappointing campaign. No one gave up. Not Our Washington Nationals. Not Our Fans. Together that pulled through under duress and claimed victory for the 4th straight time in 2009.
Final Score from Nationals Park--where BASEBALL HAD LIFE AGAIN TONIGHT--Our Washington Nationals 5 and The Toronto Blue Jays 3 in a milestone game. Curly "W" Number 20 creating distance from last week's uncertainty swirling over Manny Acta's Reign. In fact, Team President Stan Kasten stating tonight to a dozen or so Bloggers at Nationals Blogger Night At Nationals Park--no move is imminent. No one is a bigger supporter of Manny than him, said Mr Kasten (except for maybe The African Queen and I). The Dramatic Bang!! Zoom!! of The Fireworks!! signaling DC's Team seems to be finding their footing--righting themselves. And as Adam Dunn told every blogger this evening in a pre-game interview: "I would be disappointed if we didn't turn things around. I feel it's coming, and soon."
That last swing of the bat victory. That excitement of the crowd. That frenzied jumping up and down by Our Team over the victorious moment. Winning Major League Baseball was returning to The Nation's Capital!! The Thrilling Thirst Of Victory gulped down and swallowed--enjoyed, maybe relished, like a magical elixir.
Just A Great Night On South Capitol Street.
Game Notes & Highlights
No one has come farther in a shorter period of time than Ross Detwiler. Left off the Major League Roster early in Spring Training, this 2007 First Round Draft Pick has quickly resurrected his now blossoming career with another outstanding outing. 99 Pitches, 65 Strikes, 7 innings pitched, two earned runs and just one walk allowed. Our Number 48 was so deserving of a personal victory. "Yes, he really had earned it, no question about it," said Mr. Kasten after the game. "I am proud of him," said Manny Acta. "He throwing first pitch strikes, staying ahead in the count, and being very aggressive. He's pitching with confidence."
Willie Harris--who else tonight--got Washington on the scoreboard first when he lofted a Brett Cecil (University of Maryland-College Park) pitch to left center. A sure triple for the speedy outfielder, but shortened to a double when the baseball bounced on the warning track and into the Toronto Bullpen. A bad break which Willie made up for quickly when promptly stole third base--running JUST AS Cecil started his delivery. Standing on 3rd at nearly the same time Cecil's pitch was caught by his catcher, Raul Chavez, Harris helped to manufacture his own run when Wil Nieves followed by hitting a sacrifice fly to left--scoring Our Number 22.
Washington's second and third runs came on back to back doubles by Cristian Guzman and Nick Johnson in the 6th. Elijah Dukes followed with his own double two outs later to score NJ. But Our Number 34 again made a terrible base running mistake when he attempted to stretch his shot to right center into a triple. Elijah--DON'T MAKE THE LAST OUT OF THE INNING AT THIRD BASE!! Basic Baseball My Friend. You were again OUT BY A MILE!
Nick Johnson tied and exceeded Our Washington Nationals Record (2005-Present) by reaching base 10 consecutive times. That includes five hits and five walks. The streak ended when NJ grounded out to The Blue Jays' shortstop Marco Scutaro in the 8th inning tonight. "The Guz" with another two hit night, his 25th multi-hit game and 4th consecutive multi-hit effort in as many games.
The Toronto Blue Jays scored their 1st run in the 6th on a Vernon Wells Home Run. And tied this game up when Kip Wells and Joel Hanrahan combined to allow three singles in wake of Detwiler allowing a leadoff hit himself--shortly before Manny removed him in the top of the 8th.
"Mr. Enthusiasm" sharp again tonight. Julian Tavarez getting his third win while pitching 1.2 innings of shutout ball--lowering his ERA to 3.81. The first time it's been under 4.00 in some time.
In the top of the 5th inning, Toronto's Raul Chavez laced a sinking liner off Ross Detwiler into the left centerfield gap. Running on his horse to his right--Willie Harris again deftly and swiftly moved toward the baseball. Diving at the last second--Our Number 22 snared the baseball a split second before it touched down safely to earth. The resultant standing ovation he received for The Defensive Play Of This Game. Willie's response to the fanfare? He just shrugged his shoulders--nothing big. But it was--Superman--if he only wore a blue cape. That man NEVER GIVES UP ON ANYTHING!!
In the 4th inning Presidents Race, those Canadian Umpires were back at Nationals Park and participating. This time as arbiters over a controversial finish. Tom and George ran hard to the finish line until GW tripped up as TJ received the checkered flag. George claimed Tom had tripped him. But The Umpires ruled GW's claims as false and EJECTED HIM FROM THE BALLPARK. The Real MLB Umpires on the field looked on intently and laughed--enjoying the moment. Sohna and I love these two Canadians. Again tonight before the game, they chatted with Mr. Kasten and Senior Director of Baseball Relations John Dever. "They can come and use my tickets anytime," stated Dever. "They are just too funny!!" As Tim Williams and Joe Ferrell headed out of Nationals Park tonight--heading for an early morning flight back to Toronto--they were summarily thanked by fan after fan, and one staff member after another. They had been a welcome and unexpected hit on South Capitol Street.
$2160 was the total raised on Saturday Night's Silent Auction at Nationals Park. All proceeds going directly to projects funded by The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation.
Ryan Kules--one of three finalist for the "All-Stars Among Us" Campaign honoring Washington based leaders in the community was on hand at Nationals Park today. Mr. Kules, from Bowie, Maryland, who runs the Wounded Warrior Project’s--Warriors to Work program--visited with Joel Hanrahan while Our Washington Nationals took batting practice. Ryan was severely injured in Iraq when a blast severed his right arm and leg. Winners will be announced during All-Star Weekend in St. Louis in July. You can vote for your favorite and receive more information about this caring project at www.peopleallstars.com
Now about that Nationals Blogger Day. Much, much more coming later. But included in today's events--a sitdown group interview with Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Dunn, Nick Johnson and Willie Harris. Although Sohna and I felt Our Players didn't exactly take the 15 Minute Session too seriously. Adam Dunn stating: "I don't even know what a blog is." Then asking The African Queen: "Is it like Facebook?" Too much laughter, not much serious discussion.
On the other hand, Our Manager Manny Acta wanted to talk and share information. But ran out of time when The Mainstream Media poured into The Interview Room next to Presidents Club at 4PM. Manny wanted to stay and get his points across--and complained after that he needed more time. Maybe in two months. Round Two of Nationals Blogger Day is tentatively scheduled for sometime in August.
After Manny's availability ended, everyone was invited on a tour of Nationals Park with "Coach" the famous usher from Section 128. The Guy that dances on top of the dugout during certain pitching changes. His 30 minute tour included The Press Box, The Stars & Stripes Club, Diamond Club and Presidents Club.
Finally, all bloggers were invited out to the field for Nationals Batting Practice where Mark Scialabba, Assistant Director of Player Development, answered questions about the many prospects and talent within Our Washington Nationals Farm System.
Once 5:30PM rolled around, it was off to the Press Dining Room for Dinner, then 25 minutes with Stan Kasten and Interim GM Mike Rizzo in the Auxiliary Press Box on the 6th Floor of Nationals Park. When tonight's game began, all bloggers were given work space in that Auxiliary Press Box to watch or work as they deemed fit.
Tonight's InGame Photos--Charles Dharapak (AP)
All Other Photos--Nats320--All Rights Reserved