Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Even before Jason Marquis handed the baseball to our manager, Jim Riggleman, the applause began at Nationals Park. Having struggled all season, missing most of 2010 after surgery to his right pitching elbow--Our Washington Nationals $15 Million Dollar Man had finally earned some of that money.
He deserved the standing ovation received.
Marquis had earned the right to be saluted.
And Jason had to acknowledge the bi-partisan crowd of 18,344 for appreciating his effort--by giving a salutary wave as he stepped down into Washington Dugout in the top of the 8th inning.
No one battled The Chicago Cubs better tonight in the final game of this three game series on South Capitol Street. Our Number 21 so into this affair he even challenged home plate umpire Bob Davidson on a balk called in the very first inning. Marquis wasn't taking any more crap from anybody. And he wasn't looking behind at nearly five months of a wasted season. Jason was only looking forward.
Good thing too, because this evening at Nationals Park he was the best thing going for Our Washington Nationals.
Again, D.C.'s Offense couldn't score Jason Marquis a single run. And for the first time in some time, Washington's bullpen let a fellow starter down.
Tyler Clippard relieving Marquis with one out in top of the 8th, a runner on first, and immediately allowing Tyler Colvin to steal second, score on Starlin Castro's two strike double down the left field. The first and eventual winning run of this game that quickly got out of hand after Mr. "No Nonsense" didn't have much gas. Clippard taken DEEP to left by the third batter he faced this evening, Aramis Ramirez, putting The Cubbies in front 3-0 after eight.
The big blow that quickly signaled this game was all but over.
Alfonso Soriano sealing the deal in the 9th by kissing his former team with a solo shot off Sean Burnett. Soriano's 21st blast of 2010 to The Red Porch Seats really didn't matter at that point because Washington's offense again showed little signs of life tonight--continuing a month-long slump started in early August that hasn't let up.
Every team has to score runs to win. Incredibly, if not for Our Washington Nationals 10-Minute Game last night, Chicago would have left The Nation's Capital this evening with not only a three game sweep, but having allowed just one run in 27 innings played. Yeah, you got to play to win, but D.C.'s Team is not playing well enough to stay in many games of late.
They are too inconsistent.
Sadly this evening, Jason Marquis' wonderful start was wasted. He really didn't have much of a chance to win. Pitching his best game this season really didn't matter because when Jason was at his best, his teammates couldn't live up to their end of the commitment. It takes a entire team to win in baseball and Our Washington Nationals did not play like one tonight on South Capitol Street.
Simple as that.
Final Score from Nationals Park where D.C.'s Team fell to just one game above .500 at home after 61 games played (this after being seven games above .500 at the beginning of the month): The Chicago Cubs 4 and Our Washington Nationals Zero. Loss Number 74 was disheartening knowing Jim Riggleman's team is now 21 games below .500. Having started the season 20-15, Washington has only won 33 games since--while losing 59. Injuries have certainly played a part in the demise (Stephen Strasburg, Josh Willingham and even Jesus Flores come to mind), but Washington's offense has been spinning in motion all month while their starting pitching has been equally inconsistent.
The fact that Nyjer Morgan has apparently been suspended seven games (although he has appealed) for throwing a baseball into the stands at Citizens Bank Park and hitting a Phillies Fan last Saturday night doesn't help either. Even when guys have been healthy, things just don't seem to go right for Our Washington Nationals.
Jason Marquis the latest example. When he played well this evening, his teammates did not.
Game Notes & Highlights
Jason Marquis pitched 7.1 strong innings as everyone watching witnessed his ERA drop from over 11 runs per game to 8.79 when he departed. Tyler Clippard allowed Jason's inherited runner to score. Other than that one failure, Marquis allowed just four hits, three walks. His infield turned two double plays behind him. And he got right into Home Plate Umpire Bob Davidson's face, and 2nd Base Umpire Tim Timmons too, when Davidson ruled Jason had balked while looking in for a sign from Wil Nieves with Kosuke Fukudome on first base.
Marquis jabbered away from the mound. As he continued shouting at Davidson, Jim Riggleman jogged out to talk with the Home Plate Umpire. A meeting that then allowed Jason to turn his attention toward Timmons. Having no idea what was said, it was great seeing a fighting spirt from Jason Marquis. He was protecting his turf, the mound, and you had to love watching him do it. He might have lost that battle (now 0-7 for the season), but he won the war of Our Fans hearts for doing so.
Marquis also had one of the two hits off Chicago's starter--Ryan Dempster--through seven innings. Wil Nieves ran out the other on an infield single slapped back to Dempster that The Cubbies starter couldn't handle. Just four total hits for Washington. Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Kennedy with singles. Adam Dunn struck out looking three times--yes, three times.
There was one fabulously turned double play. In the bottom of the 1st inning, Ryan Zimmerman SCORCHED a ground ball up the middle--just to the right of 2nd base. Cubs 2nd Baseman Blake DeWitt ranged quickly to his right--but realizing the ball was approaching too fast--dove face first, left arm sprawled almost glove backwards and, SOMEHOW, snagged the baseball. With Ian Desmond closing in on 2nd, DeWitt quickly got off a toss to his shortstop, Starlin Castro, coming across the bag. As Desmond tried to take Starlin out, Castro heaved a one hopper across to first base--just off the bag--toward the outfield side. Chicago 1st Baseman Micah Hoffpauir performed The PERFECT SPLIT. The Defensive Play Of This Game completed when Hoffpauir stretched out with his right gloved hand (he's a lefty), then stretched with his left leg from the bag and then extended his right leg even farther to catch the ball and retire the side.
That was a GREAT PLAY from three Chicago infielders all working in unison. Hoffpauir's splits worthy of a gymnast--really nice.
Alfonso Soriano continues to tear it up in Washington, D.C. In six career games played at Nationals Park, Washington's 2006 Silver Slugger Award Winner and 40/40 Man has hit four home runs and knocked in 11 runs. And seven of his 8 hits have gone for extra bases. Soriano may not be well liked in Chicago, but he will always be remembered fondly in The Nation's Capital for his one season here. A terrific one.
Washington was shutout tonight for the 10th time this season and swept at home for the 3rd time as well (7th overall).
Tom won the 4th inning Presidents Race.
And finally, there was this guy wearing a wonderful Nats Jersey sitting below us in Diamond Club this evening. He had taken his personalized jersey #37 and placed a temporary name tag "Strasburg" overtop the embroidery. Funny.
Tonight's InGame Photos--Susan Walsh (AP)
All Other Photos Copyrighted--Nats320--All Rights Reserved