Friday, July 09, 2010
Nyjer Morgan slides safely into second base in the bottom of the 7th inning tonight at Nationals Park. Our Washington Nationals are beating The San Francisco Giants at the time by a 5-1 count. This guy sitting behind us in Presidents Club has never seen Washington play before in person--only on television.
"I really like what I am seeing from The Nationals," he comments to his friend. "They are being aggressive. They're not sitting on the lead. They continue to attack."
Two pitches later, Adam Dunn hammers out his 22nd home run of the year and second this evening. A roar develops on South Capitol Street for Our Number 44's fifth home run in three days. The majority of the 34,723 in attendance reveling over the moment. With Washington now decidedly in front 7-1, the guy sitting behind us continues with his conversation: "Now, I am really impressed--great starting pitching and a clean up hitter that can knock the cover off the baseball. They're not bad--fun to watch too."
Really, Our Washington Nationals were this evening.
Stephen Strasburg made his 7th start of his Major League Career this hot and humid Friday in the Nation's Capital. And for the first time since his debut on June 8th against The Pittsburg Pirates--Our Washington Nationals fully provided the support. In fact, Washington may well have played their most complete game all season. Except for The Giants' Andres Torres homering to right field on the 5th pitch of this game in the very first inning, this 87th game of 2010 was all about Nationals Baseball--well played Nationals Baseball--and pretty dominating baseball it was at that.
A no doubter thanks to Strasburg being in control for six strong innings--only allowing that first inning home run from Torres, but nothing else after--striking out 8 Giants while allowing just three hits. Our Number 37 was a completely different pitcher after the first inning. Determined and focused, Strasburg had this look in his eye. He wasn't going to be beaten. And he wasn't going to beat himself.
Adam Dunn again providing the firepower with a towering solo shot off San Francisco's Starter Matt Cain in the bottom of the 4th and that two run blast into the Red Porch Seats in the 7th.
13 total hits by Washington, five by two guys who have contributed little of late. Willie Harris with three hits and Wil Nieves with two. Both combining to drive in three runs.
Spotless defense and three innings of one hit shutout ball pitched by Washington's Bullpen.
Even Alberto Gonzalez got his bat into the act as a late inning defensive substitute and sparkled with a stroked triple down the left field line in the game deciding bottom of the 7th when The Giants Pat Burrell let the bouncing baseball get past him in the corner. A thrilling moment when the "Attorney General" didn't hesitate running around second with the play developing right in front of his eyes and scampered to third. Later scoring on Nyjer Morgan's single, but not before getting a standing ovation for hustle.
The exact same reaction seen from the crowd in the bottom of the very 1st inning when Roger Bernadina continued to play solid all-around baseball when he doubled off the "Out Of Town" Scoreboard then scored from second ON A PICKOFF PLAY. Yes, he did.
Matt Cain hit Our Number 2 in the back after whirling around on the mound. His throw to shortstop Edgar Renteria striking Bernadina right in the numbers of his uniform, caroming into short centerfield (not seeing the replay, apparently thrown in the dirt and behind Bernadina). Confused at first by the mishap, San Francisco's defense didn't react quickly enough to the error. Another key mistake, this one of the mental kind, that Roger took full advantage of by rushing to third and not stopping while 3rd Base Coach Pat Listach waved his left arm in a circle frantically for Bernadina to head for home. An electrifying play successfully ended when Bernadina easily beat the throw from The Giants Centerfielder Pat Burrell--sliding dramatically across home plate--left arm high into the early evening sky for Washington's first run of the game.
One of those unexpected plays that brings a home crowd to their feet in appreciation of fleetness.
"That guy's fast," stated that fellow sitting behind us. "He was alert to the situation at hand and didn't hesitate."
Great Instincts shown throughout the night on South Capitol Street by Our Washington Nationals. Some very good baseball was played by D.C.'s Team this evening. A total team effort that resulted in one very good victory.
Final Score from Nationals Park where everything came together even with Josh Willingham and Pudge Rodriguez sitting this one out for scheduled rest: Our Washington Nationals 8 and The San Francisco Giants 1. Once again, Stephen Strasburg was the main attraction, but Curly "W" Number 38 sent everyone watching home probably appreciating the dominating style of baseball put on display by Washington this evening. They governed the action. The Bang!! Zoom!! Of The Fireworks!! providing the finishing touches on the most complete all around win this season.
D.C.'s Team beat a good San Francisco Team and a quality starter in Matt Cain. Strasburg kept The Giants offense under control, while Dunn steered Washington's offense. In command almost all evening, Our Washington Nationals managed a near peak performance. They dictated play. They never let San Francisco get back into the game after taking the lead. And they never came close to yielding it.
Ruling the evening on South Capitol Street doesn't give Our Washington Nationals enough credit.
Dictating comes close.
But dominating best describes.
"Thanks for the tickets," that guy sitting behind us confided after the final out was recorded to his friend. "That was a total treat. The best spirit I've seen in a team all season and a great ballpark atmosphere."
Game Notes & Highlights
What's really special about Stephen Strasburg is that he can minimize damage when other pitchers would give in to the pressure. Perfect example: San Francisco's Travis Ishikawa leads off the top of the 5th and doubles to right in what was at that time a close ball game, 2-1. Does Strasburg allow the runner to score? No. He bares down and retires Edgar Renteria on a fly ball to right. Stephen proceeds to strike out Matt Cain, then he ends the inning, and the threat, by getting pinch hitter Aaron Rowand to fly out to right. The ball game was in the balance at that moment and Strasburg didn't panic when other pitcher's might. In fact, he upped his game and threw as well as he had all evening. He didn't go for the strikeouts. But the Giants didn't score because Our Number 37 was pitching to win--not blow away with his heat. Stephen Strasburg understood how to get out of a jam in a one run game. It's sometimes not how hard you throw, but how smart you throw.
For the 9th consecutive game this evening, Washington allowed a first inning run. The longest such feat in Major League Baseball in 2010. And for the 11th straight start, Washington's opponent scored the game's first run.
Some really good bullpen work tonight for Washington. Sean Burnett, Drew Storen and Joel Peralta all pitching well. Only Burnett allowed a single during his stint, but nothing else for thee solid innings of shutout work.
Why did San Francisco Manager Bruce Bochy take so long to take his starter, Matt Cain, out of this game? Our Washington Nationals were punishing him, but Bochy didn't relieve him until three batters AFTER Adam Dunn had hit his second home run--making the score 7-1. Cain's a very good young pitcher, many times dominating. But when the big righthander got into trouble, his manager didn't come to his rescue. Instead, he allowed Matt to get pounded, unnecessarily, in the 7th inning when this game got out of hand. Strange decision by a very good manager with a very good pitcher. 11 hits allowed, three walks, 8 runs (seven of which were earned) a rare poor outing for Matt Cain.
Making either a contract extension push or promoting his wares to the other 29 teams in baseball as the trading deadline approaches, Adam Dunn continued to pour it on during this home stand. Three hits, two home runs, three rbi. The Man is tearing it up right now. Out of nowhere, Dunn now batting .285, slugging .593 with an OPS of .963--all career highs from any of his previous seasons. He's been a one man wrecking crew of late. With Ryan Zimmerman being hot as well--for the first time all season--Washington is seeing the expected results of a middle of the lineup that many believe is the best in the National League. Dunn, Zimmerman and Josh Willingham pretty impressive 3-4-5 hitters.
Getting a rare start tonight to give Willingham a breather, Willie Harris had one of his best nights of the year. Three hits in four plate appearances and one rbi. Wil Nieves with a key two rbi single in the bottom of the 6th that put Washington ahead 4-2 at the time--although Nieves rounded first base too far on the hit and was picked off on a beautiful throw from San Francisco catcher Buster Posey to his 2nd Baseman Freddy Sanchez to end the inning. Key hit, but bad baserunning though by Nieves.
Some players just seem to be National League players only. Pat Burrell is the perfect example. A World Series Champion with The Philadelphia Phillies in 2008, he was not offered a contract to return to the only team he's ever played for in 2009. Burrell signed with The Tampa Bay Rays, was injured, and floundered in the American League. Released earlier this season, Pat Burrell seems to have found a new home in San Francisco--playing well for his new National League Team. He's never been a great fielder, but he's got power and the ability to drive in runs.
Kung Fu Panda--Pablo Sandoval--is one big dude. He looks everything like the nickname given him, lovingly, by the fans in the City By The Bay.
The Marines were out in full force at Center Field Gate tonight collecting Toys For Tots during the Christmas In July Promotion. The African Queen and I brought some toys to donate for the cause. The Marines will again be at Nationals Park stationed outside Center Field Gate for Saturday evening's game, as well as, Sunday afternoon's finale against The San Francisco Giants.
The President's Club Buffet tonight was one of the better offerings we've ever seen. Especially, the Dragon Noodle Salad from the Asian Table. Really excellent. One thing about attending any game in Presidents Club--you better be ready to eat dinner.
George won the 4th inning Presidents Race--easily outdistancing his fellow Rushmores.
For the first time all year, my SBF Jersey made an appearance at Nationals Park. My Best Friend!! Screech!! stopping in his path upon seeing it and promptly posing for pictures.
And finally, after the game concluded, Sohna and I are leaving our seats in Presidents Club to watch the post-game press conference inside the club. This nice guy celebrating the victory walks by The African Queen, smiles and states: "It's nice to be in the company of royalty." We all just started laughing over the humor of it all from someone that gets the fun of Nats320.
Tonight's InGame Photos--Greg Fiume (Getty Images)
All Other Photos--Nats320--All Rights Reserved