Saturday, August 08, 2009
When You Are Hot
A one run deficit certainly wasn't going to stand in the way of Our New Look Washington Nationals this evening on South Capitol Street. More importantly, neither was one of The National League's Finest Pitchers--The Arizona Diamondbacks' Dan Haren.
When your clean up hitter, Adam Dunn, slaps a grounder between and past four infielders overplaying to the right side scoring Nyjer Morgan with Washington's first run in the bottom of the 1st inning--you know you are hot.
When your 3rd Baseman, Ryan Zimmerman, rushes over to the photographer's well on the 3rd Base Side to lean over and snare a foul pop up off the bat of Miguel Romero--you know you are hot.
When after your rookie starter, Garrett Mock, gives up a two run homer on a full count that bounces off the foul pole giving The Snakes a one run lead in the top of the fourth--you know you are hot when your team comes back immediately in the bottom half and plates three more scores--two on Josh Willingham's two run homer to left.
When your centerfielder, Nyjer Morgan, is so fast that he can overrun a screaming liner in the top of the 6th scorched by Josh Whitesell directly over his head, recover, backpedal, and slow down just enough to make the catch--you know you are hot.
And when that rookie Mock, who has NEVER won a Big League Game In His Life--matches up against an established veteran and out pitches the competition--you better believe you are hot.
When you have received virtually NO POWER from either of your two catchers on your 25-Man Roster and Josh Bard drills out his 2nd Home Run of 2009 off Dan Haren--you may not only be hot, but ON FIRE!!
And when that same talented 3rd Baseman--you know that Zimmy Guy-- ranges to his left for a sharply hit ground ball by Augie Ojeda leading off the top of the 7th frame and it takes one wicked hop at the very last moment and Ryan Zimmerman needs to OLE!! his glove from near field level to above his head in a split second--and not only makes the catch but spins from his left to right with his back to first base and STILL records the out--you know you are hot, lucky and fortunate to have such a talented young man guarding The Hot Corner.
Yeah, it was that type of night. Nothing was going to stand in the way of Our Washington Nationals. Not Dan Haren, Not The Arizona Diamondbacks. Not Our Fielding, Not Even Our Bullpen. Certainly Not One Of The Hottest Hitting Lineups in baseball right now--Washington's.
Look, even Jorge Sosa (Jesus Colome's Twin Brother) closed this one out with a perfect 9th for his 1st save of 2009. The culmination of maybe the cleanest game DC's Team has played all season. If you were there in attendance on South Capitol Street tonight--you had to feel the same as The African Queen and I did once Josh Willingham put Our Washington Nationals back in front with his two run blast in the bottom of the 4th--immediately followed by a Willie Harris ripped triple to right and a Alberto Gonzalez sacrifice fly scoring Washington's 4th run. There was NO WAY WE WERE LOSING TONIGHT.
When you are hot--you are hot!! And no one in Major League Baseball has been as good as Our Washington Nationals over the past 7 Days--maybe even over most all of the past two weeks. What a difference in attitude, fighting spirit and just downright solid baseball displayed on the diamond of late by DC's Team. Just a completely different feel during these Dog Days Of August. Confidence rising--so much so--we dare say--a swagger is beginning to form.
Who would have thought that ONE MONTH AGO!!
Final Score From Nationals Park where on Adam Dunn Bobblehead Night--the best giveaway to Our Fans was a 7th Straight Win--Our Washington Nationals 5 and The Arizona Diamondbacks 2. Curly "W" Number 39 really was never in doubt. A victory won by everyone simply doing their job. Nothing special here folks, just well played ball. And The Bang!! Zoom!! Of The Fireworks!! signaling--watch out--Washington has a threatening lineup that isn't asleep any longer. Speed at the top with Morgan and Cristian Guzman. Power and Punch in the middle with Zimmerman, Dunn, Willingham & Dukes (who did not play tonight). And a utility player in Willie Harris--when not overexposed--can be as exciting as anyone in the game.
If Morgan or Guzman or both are on base--Zimmerman, Dunn & Willingham are going to see more fastballs. Pitches to drive, more games to win--which is the exact scenario playing out night after night over Washington's hottest streak of this season. Performance only topped previously during that FABULOUS 10--Game Span Winning Streak from June 2 to June 12, 2005 when Chad Cordero was hot as a pistol saving ballgames. And Our Very New Washington Nationals were in first place--barely six weeks after baseball returned to DC after a 33 year absence. With crowds swelling to above 35,000 each and every night--BASEBALL was again the talk of the town.
I can still remember Charlie Slowes on then WTWP screaming out after that 10th win--"Ten In A Row!! Ten In A Row!! The Washington Nationals have won ten in row!! Unbelievable!!
Still taking each match up one game at a time--could version 5.0 of Our Washington Nationals accomplish the same feat as their 2005 Brethren?? What a pleasure that would be to witness after so much sorrow this season.
Game Notes & Highlights
Yes, The Baseball Gods had their say this evening. They waited until tonight to let Garrett Mock record his very first Major League Win because he was starting against the original team that drafted him--The Arizona Diamondbacks. Except for the two run homer allowed to Mark Reynolds off the foul pole in the 4th--Our Number 49 pitches some fairly solid baseball. He induced a key double play in the very first inning to get out of an early jam and he was able to record strikeouts to end three separate innings (all against The Snakes Chris Young) and ground ball outs to end his other frames pitched in his six innings tossed. 5 hits, 3 walks allowed. 7 strikeouts and a good outing from a young man that has been anything but impressive as a starter since being recalled from AAA Syracuse.
After the game while doing an on field interview for MASN, Garrett Mock received the obligatory Shaving Cream Pie in the face for garnering his First Major League Victory. John Lannan doing the honor of smashing Mock in the face.
Sean Burnett--two innings of no hit baseball for his 8th hold. Giving away to Sosa in the 9th for his 1st Save.
Arizona's Dan Haren was not bad--just not his usual self tonight. He gave up two key home runs that hurt him. And the weaker hitting Snakes couldn't mount any real offensive threats against Mock, Burnett & Sosa.
Pretty balanced hitting lineup tonight. Every starting Washington fielder swatted out a base hit except for Gonzalez. And Our Number 12 knocked home Harris in the bottom of the 4th with a sacrifice fly. Josh Willingham with his 18th home run and 45th & 46th RBI. Adam Dunn's RBI single in the 1st scoring Morgan was his 82nd RBI. Ryan Zimmerman with two hits--keeping his average above .300.
And speaking of The Z-Man, he is a highlight reel most every single night. His rush to the photographer's well to retrieve Romero's foul ball was vintage Ryan. No 3rd Baseman in the game tracks foul flies better. And no 3rd Baseman in the game moves to their left (or right even) better than Our Number 11. His Ole!! scoop of Augie Ojeda's sharp grounder in the 7th was The Defensive Play Of This Game. But what's become clearer over the past few months--is that Ryan Zimmerman is rounding into everything, most everyone expected. Inching closer to that complete young player every team needs. It's hard to believe some have been so against him--believing his talents were overrated. Well, the only thing overrated were the opinions of those saying those wrong beliefs. Anyone not seeing what that young man brings to the field every day--doesn't understand the game.
Absolutely LOVE The Adam Dunn Bobblehead given out this evening to the first 15,000 Fans at Nationals Park. Solidly replicated, decent likeness, pleasing to the eye. And as The African Queen said: "Actually looks like him!" Really, it's a nice addition to Our Everything Nationals Wing Of Our House. Yeah, we got a lot of stuff--like everything. This Dunn bobblehead is the first of a matching pair. My Favorite Player Of All Time!! Frank Howard will complete the set on August 22nd, 2009 when Our Washington Nationals play The Milwaukee Brewers. Ironically, Dunn's bobblehead given away today on August 8th, 2009, which is also Frank Howard's 73rd Birthday. Happy Birthday--Hondo!!! Do you think someone should have figured out that today could have been Hondo's Bobblehead Day as well?
The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation Saturday Auction included Home Plate from Opening Day at Nationals Park; an Elijah Dukes signed jersey; Ryan Zimmerman and Willie Harris autographed bats; and a Jim Riggleman signed cap. Additionally, and to my great delight--The Dream Foundation was selling autographed baseballs of players no longer with the Our Washington Nationals. Blasts From The Past!! included Chad Cordero, Jon Rauch, Luis Ayala, Aaron Boone, Matt Chico, Flop, Tim Redding, Joel Hanrahan, Lastings Milledge, Charlie Manning and Chris Schroder among others. Arriving at the centerfield kiosk late--I picked up "The Chief" and Matt Chico. The cost of each baseball--in perfect condition and signed on the sweet spot--ranged from $5 to $15. A GREAT DEAL!! The Dream Foundation will do this Blast From The Past!! again on August 22nd. Sohna was thrilled when I came back to our seats in Section 218 with a baseball signed by "The Most Thrilling Closer In The Game."
For The National Anthem and again during The Geico Presidents Race--the music was provided by Glenn Donnellan of the National Symphony Orchestra--who performed on a violin made out of a Louisville Slugger Baseball Bat--well received by everyone at Nationals Park. That guy needs to come back again--he was good.
As far as that Presidents Race is concerned--TEDDY had everyone up on their feet--possibly expecting victory. While Donnellan played The Lone Ranger Theme on his violin--Teddy rode his imaginary horse and wore a Long Ranger Face Mask to near victory. Coming from way behind and near the lead at the rightfield corner turn--THE ENTIRE BALLPARK rose in anticipation of the unexpected. Only to see Tom find extra strength to pull out the win in maybe The Most Entertaining Race all season long. Yeah, it was good stuff, creative too.
The African Queen and I were surprised by one of the regular commenters here on Nats320--Eddie Cunningham--this evening in Section 218. He had purchased a Club Level seat right behind us just to spend the evening with us. If we could only have more folks like Eddie cheering on Our Washington Nationals up there alongside Sohna and I--we might just be able to recreate Old Section 320 from RFK Stadium. He's loud--just like The African Queen always has been and will be.
Finally--stepping out of an elevator at Nationals Park late this afternoon--Sohna and I run into Dave Jageler. He mentions that Alfonso Soriano is not the only person to ever hit a home run at RFK Stadium off the Washington Nationals Clock that used to hang over the right centerfield wall on East Capitol Street. Jags had read our Daryle Ward story from the other day where we speculated that Alfonso's homer on May 23rd, 2006 was the only one we could recall. But Dave recalls, vividly, Nick Johnson also striking the clock on a walk-off homer slammed off The Tampa Bay Devil Rays Brian Meadows in the bottom of the 10th on July 1st, 2006. And the very reason Dave remembers this moment: "It was the very first walk off home run I had ever called in my broadcasting career. I am not going to forget that." Nor will The African Queen and I ever again. Good Stuff--Thanks Dave!!
PS--Although MUM was the word today when I saw Jordan Zimmermann at The Red Cross Blood Drive at Nationals Park, Our Washington Nationals announced early this evening that an MRI on JZ's sore right elbow showed some "concerning facts" and the films will be sent to Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Alabama for a second opinion. Not exactly what anyone wants to hear or read. Good Luck Jordan. And please do Sohna and I a favor. Don't come back until you are 100% better. You are 23 Years Old with a lifetime of a career ahead of you. Don't rush it, you are too valuable to lose at such an early age. Countless others previously in time had come back too soon--just to be on the field--and they were never effective again. Please, take it easy. And we mean it!!
Tonight's InGame Photos--Luis M. Alvarez (AP)
All Other Photos--Nats320--All Rights Reserved