Monday, April 05, 2010
All Our Energy Had Been Zapped
A packed house, Opening Day, The President Of The United States throwing out the very first pitch, Adam Dunn actually cutting down Jimmy Rollins at the plate in the top of the first inning on a throw to Pudge Rodriguez. And Ryan Zimmerman flat out drilling maybe the hardest hit ball all day in the bottom of the 1st--resulting in a run scoring drive to right centerfield putting Our Washington Nationals into the lead, 1-0, over The Defending National League Champion Philadelphia Phillies.
The energy at Nationals Park could not have been higher at that point--even with Phillies Fan being their usual boorish selves--that ballpark was buzzing!!
Then not five minutes after President Barack Obama had made the cordial visit to the Lerner Family Owner's Suite--followed by his expected media appearances on MASN and ESPN--and the leaving of POTUS from the premises along with his Secret Service detail--The Phillies' Ryan Howard slammed a two run homer off John Lannan that rocketed into the very first row of Section 238 in rightfield--just below the Miller Lite Scoreboard Walk.
All that excitement--all that vigor and vitality that was making this wonderful and beautiful Opening Day so special--JUST DIED.
Gone, Just Like That. Zapped.
And unfortunately, those Philadelphia Phillie Fans--then really took over on South Capitol Street. They had started early, of course. Apparently, it wasn't bad enough just to have them boo Ryan Zimmerman officially receiving his Gold Glove & Silver Slugger Awards, they had to take it a big step farther. Philly Fans needed to sneer and jeer not only every single one of our players being introduced--but the clubhouse and training staff with the wonderful word--"SUCKS!!"--after each name was called?
Classless, yet again.
How low can their fans go?
The final result?
An ending not to be cherished.
Howard's homer had led to a five run Philadelphia rally in the top of 4th which dampened Washington's spirits--both on the field and in the stands--before The 1st Official Presidents Race of 2010 was even run. Then, after some poor relief pitching in the 6th & 7th frames, Philadelphia's Placido Polanco socked a grand slam off Jason Bergmann in the top of the 7th that virtually put out the lights--even though the sun was still shining high in the afternoon sky. Yes, The Philadelphia Phillies and their potent lineup had lit up John Lannan and Washington's Bullpen once again. What was early--a competitive game--was now OVER.
Our Washington Nationals had lost on Opening Day--2010. A sunny day that ended in a downcast mood.
This Season Opener was not pretty.
The Phillies new ace, Roy Halladay went seven strong innings. And the deeper he went in the game, the better he got. Except for Ryan Zimmerman touching Halladay early, little else of consequence from D.C,'s lineup. In fact, no offense and poor pitching from the home side depleted all that zest and zeal that existed during the first three frames played. Lannan got hit hard. His teammates, Miguel Batista and Brian Bruney couldn't find the plate during their turns on the mound either. And D.C.'s hitting lineup, despite nine hits and 12 base runners total, couldn't sustain any rally.
By the time this game ended, only a fraction of the 41,290 in the announced crowd, were still on the premises.
Final score from Nationals Park where a quick start had temporarily held back the Phillie Faithful, but a combination of poor pitching on one side and solid slugging on the other led to one debilitating Opening Day loss--The Philadelphia Phillies 11 and Our Washington Nationals 1. The first defeat of 2010 was difficult to take due to the result on the field of play and because of the abuse Our Team received from the majority in the paid crowd. Phillie Fans can cheer for their team all they want, but being rude and obnoxious during a special award ceremony and the introductions of Washington players and staff in their very own ballpark--totally out of line.
How sad that the energy created by Our Washington Nationals and their fans during the first three innings of play when D.C. had the lead, could not be sustained. Nothing would have pleased us more than to see Philadelphia's Fans leave South Capitol Street with their heads down. Instead, the majority of Washington's supporters had left the building well before the final out was made--leaving only The Phillies to celebrate their Opening Day Victory at Nationals Park--as if they were playing at home.
All of our energy had been zapped.
Game Notes & Highlights
John Lannan really struggled today. Even before The Phillies got to him in the top of the 4th--he wasn't overly sharp--just as many balls thrown as strikes. With Philadelphia's batters lining foul balls just out of play during those first three innings--it just seemed only a matter of time before The Phillies got to him. Ryan Howard made Lannan pay dearly with his two run shot, then Our Number 31 seemed to totally lose focus--attempting to throw to certain spots instead of pitching. Seven batters after Howard's blast--John Lannan was out of this game after allowing five runs on seven hits and three walks in 3.2 innings pitch.
If not for Jesse English, Lannan's stats for this day would have been far worse. The rookie lefty--now wearing uniform number 50 on your scorecard--made his very first Major League appearance in relief of John--to face none other than Ryan Howard with the bases loaded in the top of the fourth. Maybe not calm, but defintely cool under pressure, Jesse threw a swinging 1st pitch strike to the former N.L. MVP, then a ball, before retiring Howard and The Phillies in the pivotal frame of this game on a ground ball hit to second baseman Adam Kennedy. Jesse English would go on to pitch better than anyone wearing the Red Curly "W" today. A 1-2-3 top of the 5th facing Jayson Werth, Raul Ibanez and Shane Victorino was impressive for a young man no one ever expected to make Washington's Opening Day Roster, much less pitch well above AA Ball this season..
Far different than seen from veteran Miguel Batista who--including Saturday's final tune up with The Boston Red Sox at Nationals Park--has been anything but effective. Again this afternoon, Batista couldn't find the plate, walked too many opposing batters, was hit hard and paid dearly when he was replaced by Jason Bergmann in the top of the 7th with two outs and the bases loaded. Jason then serving up that Grand Slam to Polanco--a shot hammered to left--that put this game well out of reach.
Except for English and Sean Burnett (who threw one scoreless frame), pitching was a big problem for Washington today. Brian Bruney pitched the 9th in a mop up roll and he really couldn't find the plate--walking two, allowing a single and loading the bases before finally retiring Ryan Howard on a full count fly ball to centerfield.
Roy Halladay must have thrown about 45 pitches in the first three innings when Washington seemed to have him on the ropes. But after Philadelphia's five run fourth, The Phillies Ace settled down--eventually striking out nine while throwing just 88 pitches over seven complete.
How ironic the Defensive Play Of The Game occurred off the only error recorded today by Washington. Ryan Howard slapped what appeared to be a routine ground ball at Ian Desmond with two outs in the top of the 1st with Jimmy Rollins on second base. Making his first start replacing Cristian Guzman, Desmond booted his very first fielding chance of the season--but still threw the baseball late across the diamond to Adam Dunn at 1st Base. Rollins, always the heads up player, didn't stop running rounding 3rd base and headed toward home when Ian made his late throw. Dunn upon catching the toss, hesitated, and almost froze--before finally realizing he needed to turn and throw the baseball home. Adam Dunn then fired a perfect strike--just up the third base side of home plate where Pudge Rodriguez retrieved the ball and tagged out Jimmy Rollins in one swift move. The Defensive Play Of This Game that had the near capacity crowd on it's feet watching in anticipation of a collision that didn't happen. But it was a very nice relay play by Dunn--caught by Pudge--to end the inning.
Just loved how Nyjer Morgan beat out a slow infield grounder to leadoff the bottom of the 1st--yelled at the crowd down the first base side in excitement over the play--stole second--then trotted home when Ryan Zimmerman slammed a Halladay pitch over the outside corner of the plate to the padded wall in right centerfield--just above the GEICO sign--for what became Washington's only run of the game. The ballpark was rocking at that point. Morgan also had two hits today.
Pudge Rodriguez with two doubles and three total hits for his Washington debut. While catching, he also deftly picked up a Halladay bunt in the top of the 3rd and threw a perfect strike to Ian Desmond at second base to force out Philadelphia's Carlos Ruiz. That throw was a rocket!! At 38 years of age, Pudge still has a cannon for an arm.
Along with his Grand Slam, Placido Polanco drove in six of Philly's 11 runs. Polanco will probably never come close to making the Hall Of Fame--but he's just a very good baseball player for every single team he's ever played for. A professional in every way. Winner.
The President Of The United States did throw out the first pitch today at Nationals Park--carrying on a tradition started 100 years ago by President Howard Taft. Of course, President Obama threw a new twist into the honor by wearing a Nationals Jacket, but pulling out a Chicago White Sox Cap to wear before making the toss to Ryan Zimmerman. We'll give him extra points for the ingenuity of supporting both his hometown team and the city in which he works.
Of course with The President attending, fans were encouraged to come early. The African Queen and I walked into Nationals Park at 10:45AM, picked up the Opening Day Giveaway-- a Red Curly "W" Batting Practice Cap--and proceeded to take in some of the sites while visiting with friends we had not seen so far in 2010.
Teddy again was leading in the President Race, but pulled up lame as he headed for home. As George & Tom came to assist him--Abe ran right past them to take this season's first checkered flag.
We really liked the cover of the new Inside Pitch--the free program given out at every home game. Again for 2010, WTOP has sponsored baseball cards included inside each booklet that is handed out at every entrance to Nationals Park.
Did you notice the electronic ribbon boards on the first and third base sides of the ballpark now include pitch speed?
And finally--in one of their Random Acts of Red during the pre-game ceremonies--Our Washington Nationals honored The Fairfax County, Virginia Fire & Rescue Department for their efforts in earthquake ravaged Haiti and other international disaster areas over the past few years.
1st Obama First Pitch Photo--Martin H. Simon/Getty Images
2nd Obama First Pitch Photo & Zimmerman Running Through Flags--Greg Fiume/Getty Images
Lannan Sitting In Dugout Photo--Evan Vucci/AP
All Other Photos Copyrighted--Nats320--All Rights Reserved