Saturday, July 25, 2009
The Same Old Song
Single, passed ball, throwing error, sacrifice fly. One unearned run allowed--one out into the top of the very first inning. A familiar verse was heard this evening.
Yeah, it was that type of night again for Our Washington Nationals, Version 5.0. Poor starting pitching, worse fielding and given the opportunity to get back into this game in the bottom of the 7th with the bases loaded and an opposing San Diego Padres Pitcher in trouble--"The Guz" decided to swing at everything thrown his way and struck out on three consecutive pitches--killing a potential game tying rally.
You can't win baseball games when you commit four errors. Your chances of victory are slim when your starting pitcher only goes 5.1 innings while allowing 5 runs (three earned) and looks nothing like the dominant hurler he was at AAA Syracuse. You can't come from behind when your hitters don't deliver in the clutch.
Like an old worn out record--that's a black disk, by the way, made of petroleum that provided music for millions before the digital age came about for you more modern folks--Our Washington Nationals played the same old song tonight on South Capitol Street. They beat themselves in another game in which the final score was not as close as the outcome.
Washington let The San Diego Padres take advantage of them. The Worst Hitting Team in The National League (San Diego), controlled The Worst Pitching Team (Washington)--or so the statistics say. All thanks to some very poor play defensively and the inability to retire Padres hitters with runners in scoring position.
Josh Bard with a passed ball and throwing error. Two pitchers--Garrett Mock and Jason Bergmann--both fielded grounders back to them and then proceeded to throw wild to first base. The super slow San Diego Catcher--Eliezer Alfonzo ripped a grounder down the left field line only to see the equally slow footed Adam Dunn misplay the ball's carom in the corner--letting Alfonzo chug over to 3rd for what was ruled a double and error on Our Number 44.
Sure, both Cristian Guzman and Ryan Zimmerman both slammed out home runs, their 4th and 16h of 2009, respectively, but those solo shots was nowhere near enough as Our Washington Nationals were left mostly singing to themselves about lost opportunity. And even when San Diego's reliever Luke Gregerson got into some serious trouble in the bottom of the 7th--DC's Team couldn't cut a new tune. Down by four runs at the time, Bard singled, Austin Kearns pinch hit and walked, followed by Willie Harris being hit by pitch. With The Padres pitcher straining--Our Number 15 stepped to the plate and swung mightily at all three Gregerson offerings--and didn't come close to hitting anything. A melody heard many times this season at Nationals Park.
Potential rally over. This game over. A Oldie, but not Goodie--recorded as defeat number 68 of 2009.
Final Score from Nationals Park where the two teams with the worst records in The National League faced off tonight to a familar hymn--The San Diego Padres 6 and Our Washington Nationals 2. A lullaby where Washington found ways to make mistakes on the simple plays. Refrain which resulted in extra bases, more hitters stepping to the plate and ultimately uncontested free runs for The Padres.
Yes, that is right--The Same Old Song on South Capitol Street this evening--sadly.
Game Notes & Highlights
Garrett Mock really hasn't looked good in either of his starts since returning from AAA Syracuse. He did pick San Diego Shortstop, Everth Cabrera, off 1st base to end the top of the 5th, but that was just about his only high point. Nine hits, one walk and one throwing error resulted in five runs allowed (three earned) in just 5.1 innings. Mock didn't seem to be fooling many Padre hitters tonight.
With two scores already in, Jason Bergmann replaced Mock in that 6th frame and shut down a one out, 1st and 3rd potential huge rally by San Diego. But Our Number 57 got himself into similar trouble in the top of the 7th, when he fielded a slow grounder right back to him hit by Tony Gwynn, Jr. and then--with all the time in the world--threw the ball away to Nick Johnson. Of course, Gwynn, Jr. would eventually come around and score The Padres final run of this game.
Speaking of Gwynn Jr.--why is he referred to on the scoreboard and when he comes to the plate at Nationals Park as "Tony Gwynn" and not "Tony Gwynn, Jr." Big difference. It would be like referring to Ken Griffey, Jr or Cal Ripken, Jr as simply Ken Griffey or Cal Ripken. Without Jr. added, the names represent their fathers--just like Tony Gwynn is the father of Tony Gwynn, Jr. and that reference should be made clear.
Some of San Diego's lineup I had never heard of--Everth Cabrera, Kyle Blanks, Luis Rodriguez (who slammed a solo homer and added a two run double tonight) and starter Mat Latos (apparently born in Alexandria, Virginia--but raised in Florida). With shortstop Rick Eckstein, outfielder Brian Giles and pitchers Jake Peavy & Chris Young all on The Disabled List--this just wasn't that enticing of a lineup placed on the field by San Diego Manager Bud Black. But it was good enough to defeat Our Washington Nationals.
Back in 2006, The Padres Eliezer Alfonzo played for The San Francisco Giants. Visiting RFK Stadium to take on Washington--Eliezer slammed out three home runs that weekend in two games. A difference maker during in his rookie season--Alfonzo has yet to develop into the emerging star some thought three seasons ago.
Whenever a team visits Nationals Park for the first time each season, it is always interesting to see the reaction to the salute given each night to returning and recovering wounded soldiers and veterans. Some visiting teams show a great interest and join the clapping, others not so much. The New York Mets have even visited Walter Reed Army Hospital. So have The Baltimore Orioles. This evening when the nightly tribute took place at a slightly different time--before the top of the 4th inning--the entire San Diego Padres team stopped what they were doing. Every single player and coach in their dugout jumped to the top of the steps, turned toward where the vets were situated in Presidents Club and robustly cheered them on. San Diego's Chase Headley, the next scheduled hitter, stopped swinging his bat and turned and joined in as well. With San Diego the home to a very large military contingent--The Padres response was not a surprise. One of the first teams to salute military personnel at both their original home--Jack Murphy Stadium (Qualcomm) and now Petco Park, The Marines of Camp Pendleton and The Naval Base San Diego regularly are saluted at Padres baseball games in Southern California. Like Our Washington Nationals Patriotic "DC" Jerseys, The San Diego Padres have worn "Camo" style military uniform tops in the past.
Sort of a strange Presidents Race tonight--George and Abe came rushing out of the center field gate quickly tonight, followed by Tom and Teddy--who immediately collided and fell to the warning track--never to get up again. Meanwhile, as GW & Abe headed toward the rightfield corner--George tumbled, face planting himself--leaving Abe alone with a free path to the finish line for his 23rd Victory of 2009.
Speaking of Abe--like where was he? Down on the main concourse near right centerfield in the 5th inning, I decided to head over to The Rushmore's Photo Opportunity Spot near The Exxon Kid's Zone. Few fans and kids were there taking pictures actually--but neither was Abe? So, like why wasn't he there? That's the second time this year that I personally headed over to take a photo with Our Racing Presidents and he has not been around. Sure, I will have many more opportunities--so will The African Queen, but there might be someone attending any given night wanting a photo--that may not be back to Nationals Park soon. Just saying. So Abe--you have got to be there. You really do.
Of course tonight was a Bang!! Zoom!! Go The Fireworks!! Friday evening at Nationals Park. A staple event on South Capitol Street during the baseball season.
And fnally--how ironic. You may recall how last weekend when The Chicago Cubs were in town--their 3rd Base Coach Mike Quade was the one-time 3rd Baseman for The 1982 Alexandria Dukes. Well, manning the 1st Base Coaching Box tonight for The San Diego Padres was that very same Carolina League Championship Team's Starting 2nd Baseman--Rich Renteria. The African Queen just looking at me stunned when I told her that Quade to Renteria to Nick Castanada was Alexandria's 5-4-3 Double Play Combination that fabulous one season at Four Mile Run Park. No, I am not going to forget them. They provided suburban Washington and Northern Virginia with Our Only Professional Team for a few seasons after The Washington Senators moved to Arlington, Texas following the 1971 Major League Campaign.
Tonight's InGame Photos--Pablo Martinez Monsivais (AP)
All Other Photos--Nats320--All Rights Reserved