Monday, August 02, 2010
Going With The Gut Feeling
Livo was great, again.
Thankfully, Pudge Rodriguez and Adam Dunn provided the power.
But the best moment to take from tonight's victory over The Diamondbacks in the Arizona desert was Our Manager going with his gut feeling about keeping Sean Burnett on the mound. In this game, as the 8th inning turned to the 9th, Jim Riggleman didn't do the obvious. He refused to play this particular affair by the book.
With Drew Storen warming up in the bullpen in a two-run game as the final frame began, "Riggs" kept his southpaw hurler in the game. He didn't seem to mind that a host of lefty batters for The Snakes were stepping to the plate. The same type of hitters that have pummeled Burnett all season long to a cumulative batting average above .300.
That's how you win some games, by doing the unexpected.
Everyone knows that Livan Hernandez has been pretty reliable for Washington all season long. Adam Dunn is going to provide his power. And even Pudge is not going to be kept down too long. Tonight, Our Number 7 knocked out his 300th homer as a catcher--only the 7th backstop in Major League History to reach that plateau. Mike Piazza leads the way with 427 home runs, followed by Johnny Bench, Carlton Fisk, Yogi Berra, Lance Parrish and Gary Carter. Parrish the only non-Hall Of Famer.
But most opposing managers don't expect Sean Burnett to be on the mound in a save situation in the bottom of the 9th in a visiting ballpark. Jim Riggleman went against the odds this evening. He didn't give in to the "what everyone else would do". Our Manager let the play on the field dictate the outcome, not the convention of others. That's a step in the right direction. Jim Riggleman going with the gut feeling--as significant of a development as D.C.'s Team winning five of their last seven games.
Our Washington Nationals didn't play a by the rules this evening in Phoenix. They performed to their strengths and the managing from the bench had the backbone to trust it. That's a significant advancement.
Final Score from Chase Field in Phoenix were Sean Burnett recorded his second save of his career: Our Washington Nationals 3 and The Arizona Diamondbacks 1. Curly "W" Number 47 was another all-around fine performance by D.C.'s Team. An effort that resulted in a victory because Washington received another strong outing from Ole Number 61--two well known veterans knocked out home runs--and because Sean Burnett pitched 1.2 innings of solid relief to bring this game home. Most managers today would have gone to their designated closer in the 9th. Our Washington Nationals don't have one right now in the wake of Matt Capps being traded to The Minnesota Twins. Drew Storen is the heir apparent to that role, but Jim Riggleman rightly decided this evening to go with his gut feeling. Why switch out what's going right? Why remove a pitcher from this game that's seemingly in control? That's the type of managerial decision worth applauding.
The unconventional one that led to a victory tonight in the desert.
P.S. If you can't appreciate what Livan Hernandez has done for Our Washington Nationals in 2010, then you have zero understanding of this great game. Livo has been the most stable of D.C.'s starters. He's been Jim Riggleman's most trusted pitcher to start on the mound not carrying the last name of Strasburg on the back of his jersey. Ole Number 61 has had a renaissance season wearing a Nats Uniform. One that proves once and for all--when he pitches his final game in a Nationals Uniform--and retires--his jersey number better be retired too. There are few more beloved players in the short history of Our Washington Nationals. And even less that have been so influential.
Ryan Zimmerman has been terrific.
Stephen Strasburg can be.
Livan Hernandez just is--simple as that.
"Historical" as Willie Harris was quoted as saying a few weeks back.
P.P.S Despite the law being block by a federal judge last week, the Arizona Immigration Law debate lives on at Chase Field in desert.
Tonight's In-Game Photos--Ross D. Franklin (AP)