Friday, August 27, 2010

Distracted


Our concentration tonight at Nationals Park can be best described as distracted.

In the wake of the announcement today that Stephen Strasburg needs Tommy John Surgery for a tear in the ulnar collateral ligament of his right throwing arm, Sohna and I had a hard time paying attention to tonight's game against The St. Louis Cardinals on South Capitol Street. His loss, possibly until the 2012 season, is just heartbreaking. Apparently, a few players for Our Washington Nationals must have felt the same way. We didn't talk to anyone before or after the conclusion of tonight's game, but the play this evening for the home side was quite ragged.

Not sharp.

Especially Nyjer Morgan's effort, who got himself picked off so badly at 1st base in the bottom of the 8th inning by Kyle McCleelan--that every remaining fan rooting for Washington in the announced crowd of 22,871 threw up their arms in disgust thinking: what could come next?

Well, as it turned out, a pinch hit home run by Willie Harris was the answer. But too little, too late, after Washington's latest baserunning miscue.

Combine that failure with nearly back-to-back defensive errors by Adam Dunn and Pudge Rodriguez in the top of the 3rd inning--leading to St. Louis plating two unearned runs--and there you have it--a three run shift in the final scoring. Considering Our Washington Nationals lost by just two this evening--that's significant.

Look, Scott Olsen pitched a fairly strong six innings on the mound for D.C.'s team this evening. He gave up the obligatory home run to The Greatest Slugger In The Game--Albert Pujols. Our Number 19 held his own against a strong hitting, playoff contending club. There is really no harm or disgrace in that. But Olsen was sacrificed thanks to the troubling news that came out earlier this Friday. The African Queen and I don't care how long anyone has played, or how stoic they may act--because today was as difficult of a day as anyone associated with Our Washington Nationals could possibly have suffered.

And that includes any of our fans.

After so much promise.

After so much hope had been built.

After the excitement and frenzy Stephen Strasburg brought to Nationals Park in the briefest of times.

It's extremely hard not to feel downcast, discouraged, crestfallen--downright blue.

Yeah, Our Washington Nationals lost another game this evening at Nationals Park. An affair in which they actually battled back and had the game winning run standing at the plate with two outs in the bottom of the 9th. But at the end of the day, D.C.'s Team would not have conquered, even if they had pulled out the miraculous come from behind victory. The bad news concerning Stephen Strasburg being lost for 12 to 18 months overshadowed everything.

It really did.

His loss hurt badly. And with it so did this day.

Final Score from Nationals Park where it felt more like a vigil, maybe even a wake: The St Louis Cardinals 4 and Our Washington Nationals 2. Loss number 75 was completely different than all the previous D.C. defeats. Since June 8th, the thrill and anticipation of Stephen Strasburg toeing the rubber every 5th day in a Washington uniform became must see TV. No one has ever brought in the casual fans to see Nats Baseball quite like Our Number 37. That is all now lost for at least one year. A setback that resonates throughout the franchise and diverted the attention from the play on the field this evening to what could have been?

Brillance--not seen on the mound in years.

The doctors say Stephen Strasburg will make a full recovery. Remember, Jordan Zimmermann came back throwing hard again last night after similar surgery. But a 100% ready to go Strasburg in year 2012 is not 2011. And that letdown alone is as dispiriting as can be. We only wish Stephen Strasburg the very best. We want him to come back healthy, fit, and maybe even better than ever. Many other pitchers have done so before. It's just hard for us to accept that fact right now.

Also remember, Our Number 37 was better than the hype, greater than anticipated, determined like few others.

That promise will be sorely missed.

Team President Stan Kasten stated today that as the days pass and Strasburg's injury is processed and better understood, the pain felt will eventually subside. Anyone suffering a personal loss in their life will find that statement to be true.

But until Stephen Strasburg returns to Washington's rotation--healthy and ready to go--a hollow feeling will reside in our stomachs.

He was everything we ever wanted to see on the mound.

As good as it gets.

That's why we were distracted this evening on South Capitol Street. The African Queen and I were mourning a loss felt deeply within our hearts. That young man deserved better. And so did Our Washington Nationals.

Game Notes & Highlights

Scott Olsen lost for the 7th time in 10 decisions in 2010. He was also worthy of better on the field--if his teammates had helped him out more.

Watching Cardinals lefthanded rookie pitcher Jamie Garcia pitch this evening was quite interesting. He's had a nice season so far and now has 12 personal victories in 18 decisions. But he was all over the place with his pitches. He allowed 8 hits, four walks and he struck out 7 in just 5.1 innings. Amazingly, Garcia didn't allow a run. How is that possible? Really?

Albert Pujols smacked out his 35th home run of the season in the 1st inning off Olsen. Matt Holliday drilled his 23rd of 2010 into The Red Porch off Miguel Batista in the 8th.

Ian Desmond continues to improve his overall play. Not only has he matured at shortstop over the past two weeks, not over playing his hand--but he's become ever more clutch at the plate. Tonight showing off his drag bunting for a single in the 5th to go with another single and double. Desmond having raised his batting average to .283 by the conclusion of this game.

Washington outhit St. Louis: 12-7, but the two errors in the 3rd were key factors in the outcome of this game.

In the top of the 7th Inning, Ryan Zimmerman rushed in on a slow roller off the bat of Brendan Ryan, picked up the baseball one handed and zipped it across the infield. The Defensive Play Of This Game that everyone has become so accustomed to seeing, many don't realize what a great play The Z-Man executes most every single time. He makes it look so easy--but it's not.

By the way, how often do you see an opposing team intentionally walk a batter hitting .100 for one with a .095 average? It happened this evening in the bottom of the 2nd when Washington had runners on 2nd and 3rd with two outs. The Cardinals walked Justin Maxwell to bring up Scott Olsen. It must have been the right decision by their Manager Tony LaRussa. Olsen struck out to end the inning.

There was a controversial call this evening when pinch hitter Adam Kennedy lofted a fly ball down the right field line on the very first pitch he saw from Mitchell Boggs in the bottom of the 6th. With the bases loaded and Our Washington Nationals down by three, a fair ball would have cleared the bases. But 1st Base Umpire Dan Bellino (A Nationals nemesis all season) ruled the ball foul as Pudge Rodriguez, Justin Maxwell and Kevin Mench all thought they had scored. We can't see that part of the right field line from our seats in Section 218, but Washington's bullpen went NUTS over the foul call--believing it was fair. And Our Manager Jim Riggleman let loose on Bellino and Home Plate Umpire Angel Hernandez--to no avail. Kennedy eventually popped out and the rally subsequently died.



Before tonight's game, Hard Times Cafe held their spicy chicken wing contest. Participants needed to down as many chicken wings as possible in a prescribed amount of time. The winner choked down 14 wings to take the title. A gift bag from Clint and The NatPack was the grand prize.


And finally, Abe blew away all the competition to win The 4th Inning Presidents Race.

Today's InGame Photos & Stephen Strasburg--Nick Wass (AP)
All Other Photos Copyrighted--Nats320--All Rights Reserved

5 comments:

Laurie said...

What a sad day in Nats town..for sure :( But..we dont ever give up, do we? Mistakes by some, but they all played hard until the end.

Screech's Best Friend said...

No. We don't ever give up. But yesterday was difficult.

Jim H said...

Just think...we get to go through the entire anticipation thing again. :) Perhaps, in the meantime, Zimmermann will give us something enjoyable to watch as he works his way into form. Remember, we only saw him for a relatively brief period. Hopefully things go well and he provides (yet another) example of a positive outcome to Strasburg.

It is good to see the proper caution and value that was put on Strasburg's contract. After initial speculation around 50 million or 25 million, I'm heartened to see Rizzo's restraint and Boras' eventual agreement. As virtually any veteran presence in the game warned...pitchers are fragile things. As if we needed it, I'm glad to see another confirmation that the GM knows what he's doing.

What was also refreshing was the quick work to announce this. In the past, the language "tight forearm" often led to weeks or months of the Nationals dickering around prior to sheepishly announcing what should have been adised at the start. Good to see that history change.

As exciting as watching Strasburg pitch has been, to be funereal about this setback should be avoided. In the perspective of the game...yeah, it's tough. But many many many other things are more impactful in our daily lives. Everyone needs to just relax a little bit.

He's hurt, he'll be back.

paul said...

Thankfully I had family visiting who did not know who Strasburg is, so I did not have to think about the situation. I'm glad I stayed away from the dirge-like proceedings.

I am hoping the Nats front office will look at this as a challenge to field a successful team in 2011. If they don't at least try, there will be a lot of elbow room in Natstown.

Chris said...

I don't think the Nats were coming at the top of the division before at least 2012 anyway, so insofar as SS is better than advertised a full recovery would mean no loss to the team in the long term. The question is, will management make the same commitment to improve year by year that they would have with a healthy ace like SS?