Monday, July 05, 2010

4th Of July Dud

Agent 99 and I went out for the evening to celebrate the 4th Of July last night. But here's a small recap and some points we wanted to address about the game.

Yesterday's Fourth Of July Dud at Nationals Park was strange in that Our Washington Nationals were quite never into the game. But at the same time, they were not quite out of it either facing The New York Mets. Trailing early 8-0 after Craig Stammen got absolutely hammered in his latest start on the mound, Washington slowly fought their way back thanks to Ryan Zimmerman breaking out of his power slump. When The Z-Man starts hammering pitches the opposite way for Home Runs, you know he's back offensively.

Sunday afternoon on South Capitol Street, Our Number 11 provided the holiday fireworks by blasting out a three run homer to right field off The Mets Hisanori Takahashi and by later drilling an rbi single down the right field line to score another run. Unfortunately, Ryan Zimmerman was mostly it for Our Manager's lineup. When Jim Riggleman needed an explosion from his offense, he mostly got sparklers--the initial excitement of something exciting about to happen--only to see the pyrotechnics fizzle--three different rallies flaming out.

Despite having solid opportunities to score multiple runs in the bottom half's of the 6th, 7th and 9th frames, no one else not wearing a Zimmy Jersey was able to step up to the plate and set off their own bottle rockets. The bursts of offense needed to battle back and overcome Craig Stammen's dud of a start.

Final Score from Nationals Park where the 4th of July Fireworks in the Nation's Capital were dampened by a less than stellar game played from the home side: The New York Mets 9 and Our Washington Nationals 5. Loss Number 47 of 2010 had it's moments, but not nearly enough to light up the late afternoon sky with The Bang!! Zoom!! Of The Fireworks!! celebratory ending. Too bad, because if Washington had actually received a few more clutch hits down the stretch, thousands more would have headed off to The National Mall yesterday evening to watch The National Fireworks--having already got a taste of what was to come.

A pyrotechnic demonstration of firepower all staged and ready to go--that at Nationals Park ended up only being a 4th of July Dud. You can't say Our Washington Nationals didn't have their chances. They just didn't deliver at this game's most crucial moments.

Game Notes & Highlights

There are times in which Craig Stammen doesn't seem to pitch with any confidence. Yesterday afternoon at National Park he didn't look ready to go from the start. Once The New York Mets got two runners on base in the very first inning--Our Number 35 seemed to lose his focus. The young man's got some of the best stuff on Washington staff. He's just not using it right. And he doesn't seem to have the confidence, at times, to challenge every single hitter.

Miguel Batista did something on July 4th rarely seen these days in baseball. Coming out of the bullpen and throwing 62 pitches, the man must have a rubber arm. For this past Saturday's game, Jim Riggleman had Miguel up and throwing three times even though he never entered the game. And you can bet, if Washington was playing on this off-day Monday, Batista would be up and throwing again--if Our Manager needed him as the long man out of the bullpen. Pretty incredible what Miguel Batista did yesterday under the circumstances.

Curious to know why Tyler Clippard was in this game for nearly two innings of relief with Washington down by five runs at the time? And why was Sean Burnett only used for one out? Clippard needed the rest, Burnett needed the work. It's worth repeating again, sometimes you have to trust everyone you have at your disposal in the bullpen--not just the one's you think you can trust. If you don't give all your relievers opportunities--how do you expect them to perform when you MUST PUT THEM IN THE GAME. There was no reason for Tyler Clippard to be put into this game. Go more with Burnett, Joel Peralta, Doug Slaten--give them their earned time to show what they can do. Otherwise, no trust or bond will ever be formed.

Which brings up another managerial decision shortly after Ryan Zimmerman pounded out his three run homer in the bottom of the 6th. Washington had the bases loaded and nobody out, down 8-3 at the time. Alberto Gonzalez was the next scheduled hitter. In this situation either go with Gonzalez or bring up a hitter than can change the game instantly. Sending Adam Kennedy to pinch hit in this situation made little sense. He's the left handed swinging version of Alberto Gonzalez. Roger Bernadina, Ian Desmond, Pudge Rodriguez and Willie Harris were all still available off the bench at this point in the game. Jim Riggleman chose Kennedy--who struck out. Wil Nieves followed with the rally killing and inning ending double play. Washington was set up for a better result that frame.

Speaking of Alberto Gonzalez, his Defensive Play Of This Game might end up being one of the best infield defensive plays of the entire season. Starting at shortstop yesterday, "The Attorney General" saved Craig Stammen with two outs and a New York runner on third when Jeff Francouer ripped a hard grounder to Alberto's right. Reflex action only, Gonzalez dove to his right--as the ball was nearly past him. Incredibly, while sprawled face down on the lip of the infield dirt and grass--"Gonzo" snared the baseball--then quickly jumped up and heaved an absolute rope of a toss across the infield to retire Francouer at 1st Base. That was a Big League Catch from a man who possesses a Major League Arm. If he could only hit more consistently, Alberto Gonzalez would be an everyday player. He's just a terrific fielder. He probably makes more spectacular defensive plays, per innings in the field played, than anyone else on Washington's team. Just a GREAT, GREAT, DEFENSIVE PLAY OF THIS GAME.

Needing votes from fans to make The 2010 All-Star Game in Anaheim next week, Ryan Zimmerman put on an offensive show during the last half of this game. His three run homer off Takahasi leading to a four rbi, three hit and one run scored day for The Z-Man. Fans can vote Zimmy into the All-Star Game by linking to

Matt Capps the only guaranteed 2010 All-Star for Our Washington Nationals. The National League Saves leader chosen by The Philadelphia Phillies Manager, Charlie Manuel, to be on his squad. Thankfully, Manuel wisely decided that Stephen Strasburg's All-Star debut can wait for another year. Strasburg doesn't have to be put even higher on a pedestal. As Dave Jageler mentioned in the pre-game show on the radio yesterday--Jags thought Strasburg (very quiet and deferential to other players) would be embarrassed to be named to the squad. And the fact that Our Number 37 would overtake the coverage of the entire All-Star game with the media--was undo pressure not worth putting him through. Good commentary and a good decision by Charlie Manuel.

Carrying an American Flag the entire distance, Tom won The 4th Of July Presidents Race at Nationals Park.

We loved the Giant American Flag put on display on Half Street by The D.C. Fire Department. Hung on the ladders of two fire engines, fans arriving from the Navy Yard Metro walked under the flag as they entered the ballpark via Center Field Gate. The American Flag could be seen from just about everywhere inside the ballpark.

And finally, We didn't notice many people wearing patriotic Red, White & Blue this July 4th. Many have done so in the past for these Holiday games at Nationals Park. But for whatever reason--few did on Sunday. Mark did get the email though and wore the right tee-shirt. The Patriotic Curly "W" The African Queen and I both wore in honor of America's Birthday.

Sunday's In Game Photos--Ann Heisenfieldt (AP)
All other photos--Nats320--All Rights Reserved


Bill-DC said...

Love your blog and dedication to the Nats.

I was at the game yesterday, first row past 3B and was wondering if you knew anyone in the Nats PR department I could send this picture I took so they would get it to the serviceman and his son. I thought it was nice the Nats honored them before the game.

Screech's Best Friend said...

Bill-DC: I have passed the photo and your link on to the PR Staff of The Nationals. When I hear back from them, I will add the result in the comment area for this story.

Thanks for sharing.

Screech's Best Friend said...

Bill-DC: The Washington Nationals have informed me the two in your photo are not father & son, but mentor & mentee. The team has reached out to TAPS to inform the two (and their families) of the picture and are forwarding it to them.