Tuesday, September 22, 2009
The African Queen and I are standing among a sea of Dodger Blue. Los Angeles Fans in the front row, just beyond third base at Nationals Park watching The Los Angeles Dodgers take batting practice this evening. Manny Ramirez is swinging away in the cage at home plate. "Manny Ramirez Jr." is taking ground balls off the bat of Dodgers' 3rd Base Coach Larry Bowa. As Ronnie Belliard fields the latest fungo hit towards him, he turns and throws to Casey Blake manning third base. Immediately, "The Ballplayer's" head turns over towards our way. Then, Ronnie twists his head around that of his new teammate, Blake Dewitt, standing with him around 2nd base.
Unexpectedly, Ronnie Belliard begins to smile. That big grin we've come to know so well.
Without missing a beat he jogs toward 3rd base, drops his fielding glove on the grass and saunters right over to The African Queen: "How you doing!!"
Sohna and I clapped and clapped and clapped. And to everyone's credit standing around, they were all applauding as well.
"It's good to see you guys!!" exclaimed Belliard.
"I miss my Lucky Number 10," replies Sohna.
"Yeah, they gave me Number 3," stated Ronnie (pointing over toward Larry Bowa wearing Number 10)
"You look good in Blue, but better in Red," says The African Queen, which gets everyone laughing.
For nearly 10 minutes, Ronnie Belliard stood along the railing at Nationals Park just chatting with us. He talked of playing for Los Angeles, the excitement of being in a pennant chase and how happy he was with his new team.
"Lucky Number 10" was just being a friend.
"You don't know this," SBF chimes in. "But, Sohna has watched virtually every single one of your games since you were traded to the Dodgers."
"Really?" says Ronnie.
"Not only that," Sohna continues. "But I even saw your grand slam last week against The Giants at Dodger Stadium."
Whereupon Belliard leans over and whispers in her ear: "I was lucky."
Cracks everybody up.
Just a great conversation that wasn't planned.
In fact, "The Ballplayer" went on to thank Sohna and I for supporting him during his nearly three years in a Washington Uniform and how much he appreciated our tribute to him on Nats320 when he was traded. "Some of the guys first told me about it," Belliard told us. "And it really meant a lot to me."
An unexpected moment, just like the game that ended up being played out on South Capitol Street this evening where Ronnie's Dodgers posted up the highest scoring game by any visiting team in our ballpark's two year history. 14 runs, 13 of them coming in just two innings. A total pasting that included every single starter for Los Angeles either scoring at least one run or knocking in one run.
Belliard with two hits, two runs and one rbi. Rafael Furcal with four hits, four rbi and two runs scored. James Loney with three hits, two runs and two rbi. Casey Blake with two hits, two runs and two rbi. Andre Either and Matt Kemp, together, knocking in three and scoring one. Everyone getting their cuts in at Washington's pitching. So much so, the NL West Leaders, really didn't need Manny Ramirez's one run scored and one rbi.
In fact, Number 99's run scoring double in the top of the 3rd down the left field line only put The Dodgers up 1-0. And believe it or not--on this evening--that was a short lived lead when Adam Dunn connected for his 38th Home of 2009 in the bottom of the 3rd with a two run shot off Hiroki Kuroda that put Washington in front. At least until Livan Hernandez had his worst performance since returning to DC while Saul Rivera and Victor Garate weren't much better.
14 LA runs, 15 Dodger hits and three DC errors sent the majority of those among the 18,518 in attendance home before the 7th Inning Stretch had even begun.
A total blowout. One of those mind numbing defeats.
Final score from Nationals Park where the NL West Leaders put on quite the offensive show tonight: The Los Angeles Dodgers 14 and Our Washington Nationals 2. Loss Number 99 of 2009 for DC's Team found The Dodgers strutting their stuff into NatsTown this Tuesday evening. Acting like they own the diamond like their new teammate--Ronnie Belliard--always has established when on the field. And LA left our new ballpark knowing they are coming for more Wednesday evening to once again play a team they are averaging 11 runs per game against in this season.
A totally unexpected finishing off by The Dodgers this evening on the very day Ronnie Belliard greeted The African Queen and I with an unexpected surprise visit.
Game Notes & Highlights
Livan Hernandez only lasted until two outs in the 4th. The Dodgers batted around on him for seven runs in the frame alone. He couldn't locate any of his pitches consistently and The Dodgers just sat back on their heels and swung away. 8 hits, four walks, 8 earned runs and not a single LA Batter struck out. Ole Number 61 has pitched well in four of his six starts since returning to DC. This evening was not one of them.
Yet, as painful as Livo's performance was, the top of the 7th was really hard to watch. Saul Rivera appeared to be throwing batting practice. Casey Blake homer, Belliard double, Russel Martin Hit-By-Pitch, Kuroda single. Our Number 52 wasn't fooling anyone. Then Garate--received by Washington in the Belliard Trade in August--allowed a single to Furcal and a walk to Juan Pierre--loading up the bases--all with still no one out and four runs already plated by The Dodgers. Zack Segovia finally able to quell this game distancing frame, but not before LA scored two more runs with a sacrifice fly by Jason Repko and a ground out by Matt Kemp.
A seven run inning and a six run inning by one team in the same game. You don't see that happen too often.
With such a big lead, Kuroda just cruised through Washington's Lineup, striking out six and only being touched by Dunn's 38th Home Run of 2009 (his 102 & 103rd rbi's). Willie Harris would triple off Kuroda with one out in the top of the 5th, but got himself caught off base when "The Guz" followed and hit a chopper in front of the plate. For whatever reason, Harris scrambled too far down the line and Kuroda just picked up the baseball and threw to Blake at third who tossed to Martin at home to retire Willie and end a possible threat.
Cristian Guzman did make two really fine defensive plays this evening. None better than the double play he started in the top of the 1st inning. Matt Kemp laced a hard hit grounder just to the left of shortstop, slightly up the middle. Our Number 15 dove/slid to his left and scooped the baseball while popping up to his feet. Quickly, Guzman released the baseball to Ian Desmond covering second base to retire Andre Either. And Desmond pivoted and threw to Adam Dunn at first base for The Defensive Play of This Game. In the top of the 2nd, James Loney stepped to the plate and laced a grounder at "The Guz" to virtually the exact same spot. With the same precision shown in the 1st, Cristian dove/slid into the ball, popped up and threw out Loney at 1st Base. Two really nice defensive plays. Later, in the 5th, Our Number 15 backhanded a ball hit into the hole by Furcal and threw him out at first as well.
Both Managers--Joe Torre of The Dodgers and Washington's Jim Riggleman emptied their benches in the bottom of the 7th. It was almost like watching a pre-season NFL football game in the 4th quarter or an NBA basketball game during garbage time. Los Angeles made seven changes, Washington five. The only bright spot coming when Torre put The Dodgers top left handed young starter--Clayton Kershaw--on the mound for the final two innings to pitch. Returning from a separated right shoulder (his non-pitching arm), Number 22 in Dodger Blue looked pretty sharp. Mowing through DC's lineup, he struck out four, walked Elijah Dukes in the 9th, but otherwise really looked good. Just another healthy arm to add to truly one of the best teams in baseball. It's unfathomable not seeing The Los Angeles Dodgers making a serious run into the 2009 playoffs. They are a very deep team with talent.
Tee Shirt Tuesday featured My Best Friend!! Screech!! Sohna and I ran into him at Center Field Gate handing his shirts out. Of course later, Screech came by to visit us in Section 218.
Beginning with today's game, Our Washington Nationals are honoring Employees Of The Year in various positions throughout Nationals Park. Tonight, George Washington was honored as Guest Services Ticket Taker Of The Year. Mr. Washington was presented with a special plaque by Interim Manager Jim Riggleman in a ceremony preceding the game.
Also, this was Peace Corp Night at Nationals Park. The Washington, D.C. based international agency was honored for their service throughout the world. Flags of each country where Peace Corp operates were put on display around the infield during the presenting of the colors and the playing of the national anthem.
With Teddy still recovering from an injury, only Abe, Tom and George ran during the 4th inning Presidents Race. George pulling away down the stretch to claim this victory.
And finally, the giveaway for the final home game of the season was announced tonight. The first 20,000 fans to enter Nationals Park on September 30th will receive a red Curly "W" Fleece Blanket.
Tonight's InGame Photos--Nick Wass (AP)
All Other Photos--Nats320--All Rights Reserved