Thursday, July 30, 2009
The Frustration Factor
Home Plate Umpire Joe West did not cost Our Washington Nationals this afternoon's baseball game in Milwaukee. Poor execution on two defensive plays in the bottom of the 7th inning was the difference maker.
Not the ball and strike calls.
Not The Umpire.
Not The Milwaukee Brewers.
Not even The Brew Crew's Starter, Yovani Gallardo, who struck out eleven Nats today facing him in the batter's box.
The Frustration Factor did the damage.
Our Washington Nationals beat themselves at Miller Park when Wil Nieves couldn't properly place down a tag on Mike Cameron at the plate and then, moments later, when Anderson Hernandez couldn't relay a perfectly played inning ending double play grounder slapped by Craig Counsell to Alberto Gonzalez at shortstop.
Two basic plays, each misplayed, plated the go ahead and insurance runs that changed the entire nature of this game around.
Washington had battled all day long, letting Joe West get under their skin. Watched as Interim Manager, Jim Riggleman, got himself tossed for arguing a debatable called swinging strikeout of Anderson Hernandez (replays showed the ball was fouled off). But DC's Team was still in this game thanks to some decent starting pitching from J.D. Martin, and a key three-run homer, laser beam shot, out of Miller Park by Ryan Zimmerman in the 4th off Gallardo.
The score was tied at three apiece in that bottom of the 7th with J.D. Martin facing his biggest challenge EVER in his young Major League Career. Cameron had led off for Milwaukee with a double. Casey McGehee followed with a single. Brewers now with runners on 1st & 3rd with nobody out. And Pat Corrales (managing after Riggleman's ejection) decided to trust his rookie pitcher throwing in his 3rd Major League Start--not Jason Bergmann nor anyone else warming up in our bullpen.
Sohna and I can applaud that decision--because it's how you learn to compete on the game's highest stage. And Martin responded well by inducing a soft grounder hit by Jason Kendall to The Z-Man charging in from 3rd. Our Number 11 scooped the baseball and sidearmed a perfect toss around the sliding Cameron. Mike was out by a good five feet, at least until Wil Nieves spread his legs across home plate, not blocking it, and proceeded to catch Zimmerman's relay low, but for some reason, Our Number 23 raised his arms and attempted to reach for Mike Cameron's upper body.
All Wil Nieves had to do was allow The Brewers' centerfielder to slide directly into his glove for out number one. A huge mistake--Cameron called safe--and rightly so--by Home Plate Umpire West.
Frustration shown by Nieves and then taken to another level when Sean Burnett replaced J.D Martin and Milwaukee loaded up the bases when J.J. Hardy sacrificed McGehee and Kendall to second and third and FLop was intentionally walked so the lefty throwing Burnett could face the lefty swinging Counsell.
Our Number 17 got the exact result HE wanted too--a perfect double play grounder to Alberto Gonzalez, who fielded the baseball, tossed to Anderson Hernandez at 2nd for out number two. Who then proceeded to throw his relay so far off the bag that Nick Johnson had to block the wild throw as it sailed to his right--well off first base. The inning ending double play lost when Anderson was not really pressured by Felipe Lopez sliding into second base before him. McGehee scoring Milwaukee's 2nd run of the 7th--thanks to poor execution on the part of Our Washington Nationals.
No errors were charged, these two mistakes were of the mental variety. But clearly, Washington was frustrated by much that had happened earlier in this game and they had let that emotional tie get to them--to their detriment. Mike MacDougal trotting out to pitch the bottom of the 8th, not pitching well and letting this game finally get out of hand by allowing two runs, on two hits, one walk and two--yes--Two Wild Pitches!!
The very site of an emotionally charged Anderson Hernandez being removed from the game BEFORE the start of the last half of the 8th by Ronnie Belliard but AFTER heading out to man 2nd Base--not a pretty sight. Anderson throwing his glove hard against the back wall of the visiting dugout as he came off the field while screaming something, loudly, as he placed himself on the protective railing in front.
The Frustration Factor had truly taken over.
Final Score from Miller Park where DC's Team blew a good opportunity to win their third series over the past 11 days--The Milwaukee Brewers 7 and Our Washington Nationals 3. Loss Number 70 in 102 games played this season was difficult to watch because Our Team that calls The Nation's Capital it's very home, let their disappointments get to them. Annoyance led to misfortune. Upsetting themselves--led to mishap.
Yovani Gallardo, Milwaukee's top young pitcher, was impressive, but he did not defeat his opponent this afternoon at Miller Park. Washington did that all by themselves--frustratingly so.
Today's InGame Photos--Darren Hauck (AP)