Friday, August 07, 2009
Total Team Effort
With two outs in the top of the second inning already down 6-0, Our Washington Nationals and their fans were hoping the threatening rain clouds billowing above Nationals Park would delay and then cancel this game. A few hours later with two outs in the bottom of the 8th, The Florida Marlins wished that rainout had actually taken place.
In the second biggest comeback since Baseball Returned To Washington, DC in 2005--Our Washington Nationals clawed and scraped their way back into the most unlikeliest of leads. A turnaround fueled by solid hitting, good relief pitching and an revitalized energy not seen most all season on South Capitol Street. A Total Team Effort that only comes from players trusting each other.
Purpose which was lacking early in this one.
"Just A Little Bit Outside!!" proclaimed Charlie Slowes on WFED when Logan Kensing entered this game in that top of the second inning--replacing Washington Starter Craig Stammen--and immediately threw a wild pitch scoring Chris Coghlan with The Fish's sixth run of the game. A proclamation perfectly reflecting a period of play put on display by Washington at that point in time.
Craig Stammen was JUST a little bit too over the plate with his pitches.
Josh Bard was JUST a little short on his attempted steal toss trying to nail Hanley Ramirez at second base in the 1st. The error throw skipping away into centerfield scoring Coghlan from 3rd base with Florida's First Run. And Hanley with The Marlins' second tally on a sacrifice fly moments later.
Stammen JUST a little bit too hittable--giving up six hits in less than two innings (plus one walk).
Ronnie Belliard JUST a little bit short of retrieving a multiple hop single to right off the bat of Chris Coghlan scoring another Marlin run.
The potential rain overhead possibly aligning JUST not materializing.
The early result--Our Washington Nationals were JUST WAY DOWN in the scoring. And at Six-Zip, not many among the announced crowd of 23,691 (thousands of whom were young children dressed in colorful Summer Camp Tee-Shirts) expected Washington to get back into this game. Fewer believed DC's Team could mount a serious comeback. Less thought Our Washington Nationals could actually win this affair.
How could they?
Nothing was going right for the home side. At least until that cloud cover cleared.
The dark and gloomy atmosphere hanging around Nationals Park eventually dissipated as the sun slowly peeked it's way through the clouds. The signal that a new light was being shown, a fresh beginning was about to start. What first resembled more of a wake for DC's Team, became an awakening.
The comeback began when Washington posted up a three spot on Florida Starter Chris Volstad in the bottom of the 4th highlighted by a run scoring double off the bat of Alberto Gonzalez which The Marlins' leftfielder, Coghlan, JUST MISPLAYED, turning twice of the lofted ball and not catching it as the stroked hit bounced off the green padded wall to home crowds great delight.
A little bit of luck added to skill that proceeded to pound Fish pitching for the remainder of this extraordinary affair. The Z-Man swatting out his 23rd Home Run, a two run shot off Volstad, highlighting a four run 5th frame--scoring Washington's 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th runs. A now one run deficit (8-7 thanks to Kensing allowing a two run shot to Florida's John Baker in the top of the 5th frame). The signal that not only would Ryan Zimmerman continue his hot ways at the plate (going 4-4 today) but so would many of his teammates. Elijah Dukes slamming out three hits, including the eventual game tying home run, a solo shot, in the bottom of the 7th off former National Pitcher, Brian Sanches.
Ronnie Belliard with what became the game winning drive when he slapped a hard hit ball which handcuffed Hanley Ramirez at shortstop and caromed into centerfield scoring "The Guz" with Washington's 9th and most important tally of the game. A scoring that would have not have occurred if not for Cristian Guzman--actually down 0-2 in the count to his former teammate Luis Ayala--had not WALKED!! Yes, Our Number 15 WALKED to start Our Washington Nationals final and ultimate rally. Another four spot posted on the scoreboard when Zimmy followed "Lucky Number 10" and flat out HAMMERED an opposite field triple off the right field wall sending Belliard across home plate and Ayala back across the field and into the visiting dugout after intentionally walking Adam Dunn. The final straw, and embarrassment that broke The Marlins' back when Brendan Donnelly replaced Ayala and immediately balked Ryan home after attempting to pickoff Willie Harris at 1st base--running for Dunn.
JUST as badly as Our Washington Nationals played during the first few innings of this game, they gathered themselves together and might well have played their best final six innings of the season during this early afternoon start at Nationals Park. Not only was the hitting clutch, but so was most of the relief pitching. Logan Kensing finished off 3.1 innings but struggled when he allowed Baker's two run shot in the 5th. But from that moment on, not one single Florida Marlin crossed home plate again this day. Ron Villone, Jason Bergmann, Tyler Clippard, Sean Burnett and Jorge Sosa combining to go the rest of the way. Sosa finishing off the final 1.2 innings and being the pitcher of record when Washington finally took the lead--FOR GOOD.
Final Score from Nationals Park where an ugly beginning turned into a beautiful day, Our Washington Nationals 12 and The Florida Marlins 8. Curly "W" Number 37 was one of the unexpected variety. A sure loss turned to victory when no one gave up when down big early. And not one single player for Washington mailed it in. This was a Total Team Effort. The Bang!! Zoom!! Of The Fireworks!! representing DC's 5th Consecutive Victory, a season high, an unthinkable three game sweep of The Fish. Hard to believe Washington has won 9 of their last 13 games and that Interim Manager Jim Riggleman now 11-11 at the helm these past 22 games.
Modest achievement deemed successful in the short term while providing hope for a Fan Base watching Our Team--maybe coming together--finally bonding, and playing the type of baseball their talents many thought would lend to more sustained winning.
How much fun has it been for us coming to Nationals Park over the past three series played at Nationals Park and watching Our Washington Nationals battle The Bucs in Pittsburgh last weeked? Maybe, The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year!!
Yeah, you can bet--if The Florida Marlins knew their six run early lead would evaporate over the course of nine innings--they would have welcomed the rainout that never came. How funny is that?
Game Notes & Highlights
Craig Stammen with an ugly pitching line: 1.2 innings pitched, six hits, six runs (five earned) and one walk. He was throwing batting practice. Logan Kensing continues to give up the long ball, 4 in 17 innings pitched. Jason Bergmann continues to pitch well when placed in specific situations and Tyler Clippard wasn't as hot as his three inning victorious stint the other night in Pittsburgh, but he was effective. A workhorse which Jorge Sosa showed this day by going the last 1.2 innings to pick up the win. Sohna and I were talking when Our Number 29 entered the game and began throwing. She stated: "If you put Sosa in Jersey Number 43 and put Colome on the back of his jersey Jorge could pass for "Bling-Bling!!" Jesus Colome and Jorge Sosa could pass for brothers. They are nearly identical in style and pitching mechanics. Sosa just a little quicker to the plate between pitches than "The Human Rain Delay."
Ryan Zimmerman ON FIRE again--his four hits and one walk in this game raising his batting average back to .300. He scored three runs and his three RBI now give him 74 for the season. If you don't believe Zimmy is turning into The Franchise Player everyone has put pressure on him to be--you are simply not watching. Great fielding skills, clutch hitting and the ability to be a game changer on the field and at the plate. HE IS HAMMERING THE BASEBALL ALL OVER THE PARK. If Our Number 11 could only get past those throwing errors--he would be The Complete Player. The Franchise Player Tag Rightfully Given.
How about that Elijah Dukes? Showing more patience at the plate, not swinging and missing every single off-speed thrown his way. Four RBI on three hits while scoring two runs. Our Number 34's bullet drive over the left field wall for his 7th home run of the year was typical Dukes. An all-power swing that can drive any baseball hit to the deepest reaches of any ballpark. That man is a tremendous athlete and once again getting the opportunity to finally find out if he belongs.
Nyjer Morgan wore his pant legs all the way down on his uniform during this game. The first time since coming to Washington via trade we recall him not wearing knee high red socks.
The 3-game sweep of The Florida Marlins was Washington's first since beating The Atlanta Braves in three straight at Nationals Park from August 29-31, 2008. The only larger than six run come from behind victory in Washington Nationals History was on June 17th, 2006 when down by seven runs to The New York Yankees at RFK Stadium (9-2), DC's team roared back to defeat The Bronx Bombers 11-9 in one of the most fun games ever played at The Old Ballyard On East Capitol Street during the three seasons Washington called RFK it's home before moving to South Capitol Street.
Roster moves before and after this game: Having falling out of favor with management, and probably not helping himself by throwing a tirade while being taken out of a game in Miwaukee last week, Anderson Hernandez was traded back to The New York Mets for Single A Second Baseman Greg Veloz and recalled Saul Rivera from AAA Syracuse. Veloz to report to Single A Potomac.
Old Friend--Daryle Ward--and outfielder Norris Hopper, bought by Washington from The Chicago White Sox for cash considerations. Expected to be AAA filler and call ups later this season if needed. Ironically, on the very day Our Washington Nationals perform their second biggest comeback in team history--Ward was a Major Player for Washington that very day The Yankees were beaten while up by seven at RFK Stadium. Ward had homered earlier in the game, but scored the game winning run by CHUGGING all the way around from first base on a Jose Guillen triple that had RFK ROCKING IN A WAY ONLY THE OLD BALLYARD COULD!! Good Memories.
Teddy came charging out of centerfield gate first again during the 4th inning Presidents Race, but as Tom caught Our Lovable Loser, he spun Teddy around and yes--TEDDY RAN THE WRONG WAY--right back to centerfield gate. Tom winning easily for his 16th checkered flag of 2009.
And finally--one of Sohna's West African compatriots was sitting near us in Section 218 today at Nationals Park. Elizabeth along with her husband Patrick, as well as Danny and Ben.
Today's InGame Photos--Luis M. Alvarez (AP)
All Other Photos--Nats320--All Rights Reserved