Saturday, October 03, 2009
Hope & Conviction
Hope is what Justin Maxwell and Ian Desmond have brought to the field for Our Washington Nationals since being recalled in September. Conviction is what they have given The African Queen and I with their play. The confidence there are a few position players in Our Farm System that can help DC's Team in 2010 and beyond.
Because if Maxwell and Desmond haven't earned legitimate chances to secure roster spots for Our Washington Nationals after today's thriller in Atlanta, they never will. Again this afternoon, J-Max with the game winning home run. A two run shot in the top of the 11th inning that gave Washington back the lead after Zack Segovia had blown a save and a two run lead in the bottom of the 10th.
Desmond with his 4th home run since early September, this time off The Atlanta Braves' talented starter, Jair Jurrjens, leading off the bottom of the 4th. Add that effort to Ian's two terrific fielding gems on stroked baseball's off the bat of Garret Anderson--and you got one really impressive young shortstop. The first of his defensive plays a looping fly ball over his head and into short left centerfield that Our Number 6 raced down in the bottom of the 2nd. Followed in the bottom of the 5th, by a diving catch on a soft liner by The Braves' Leftfielder.
The more Ian Desmond plays at shortstop.
The more At-Bats he's received in The Major Leagues.
The more Our New Number 6 has shown the capability of playing alongside of, and competing against, the very best in the game. The same statement which can be said for Justin Maxwell. Reportedly, Hitting Coach Rick Eckstein has worked with J-Max to relax his hands and place them lower in the set position while at the plate. A new batting stance which has resulted in, not only more power, but the ability to fight off more two strike pitches and--as was the case today--drive the ball the opposite way. Justin's game winning home run drilled down the right field line and over the wall at Turner Field. A 95 MPH heater thrown from the right arm of Atlanta's Manny Acosta.
Good feelings all around after this win because Ryan Zimmerman rapped out three hits, scored one and knocked in one run--attempting to finish the year strong. Cristian Guzman slashed a two out pinch hit double in the top of the 10th to plate Zimmy and Adam Dunn with what then appeared to be the game winning runs--before Segovia lost control and the momentum, momentarily.
Ross Detwiller pitched a decent five innings of shut out ball. The Rookie Lefty walked four Braves Batters, but he induced two key double plays and--unlike earlier in the year when in trouble--didn't get rattled. Much like all of Ross' performances since Detwiler was recalled in September.
For the second consecutive night, Jason Bergmann was called out of the bullpen with Washington in trouble, this time in the bottom of the 8th and Nate McLouth standing on second for Atlanta representing the go ahead run with just one out. And proceeded to mow down both Martin Prado and Chipper Jones. Two consecutive K's that had Our Number 57 fist pumping himself for a job well done. Bergmann may have some of the best stuff and movement on a baseball as anyone on Our Pitching Staff. Talent which Interim Manager Jim Riggleman has used to give Jason a role to play this last half of 2009. A position needed with a game on the line. And for the most part--he has pitched well out of the pen. Except for a tough stretch for about 10 days in mid to late August, Jason Bergmann has been very effective.
In fact, this was such a good victory--even Logan Kensing was able to garner his first Major League Save of 2009. Logan just threw strikes and got outs. A 1-2-3 bottom of the 11th.
Final Score from Turner Field where, once again, those same young players--all looking to be key components of DC's Roster Next Season--continued to put on a winning show: Our Washington Nationals 6 and The Atlanta Braves 4 in 11 fun innings. Curly "W" Number 58 was Washington's sixth win in a row with just one more to be played in 2009. And The Brav-OS 5th consecutive loss after rallying back into playoff contention during the month of September. Hope now lost for Atlanta, but looking ever so brighter for Our Team which is ending the season strong. The Bang!! Zoom!! Of The Fireworks!! signaling that no one wearing a Washington Uniform has quit just yet. And with Final Game Number 162 to be played tomorrow afternoon--hard as it may seem to believe--DC's Team can match last season's win mark. A level no one thought possible just one short week ago.
Considering Washington was just recently staring down 110 losses--we will take that.
Really, it's been quite impressive watching Our Washington Nationals battle down to the final out of 2009. Doing so in a way that gives the belief that 2010 can be a Whole New Ballgame. The competitive juices are still flowing out there on the diamond and that desire and spirit can carryover to next February in Viera, Florida--where a completely different version 6.0 of DC's will take the field.
One not just filled on HOPES of doing well. But with the CONVICTION they can.
And Good Win Today.
Today's InGame Photos--John Amis (AP)