Monday, August 23, 2010
The fact that Livan Hernandez threw 121 pitches tonight at Nationals Park was not the surprise. What was astonishing about the feat was that Ole Number 61 did so in less than five innings on the mound--4.1 to be exact. That's remarkable. And to say the least that didn't equate to anything good for Our Washington Nationals. On one of the nicest and coolest summer nights of the entire baseball season, one ugly game played out on the grass and dirt diamond of South Capitol Street.
All evening long, the gray turning to black sky threatened to rain. If this game had been called due to inclement weather, not many rooting for Washington in the bi-partisan crowd of 17,921 would have probably minded. There was not much appealing about The Chicago Cubs walking all over D.C.'s Team this Monday. A three hour and eight minute affair that dragged on and on and on. Only Roger Bernadina's diving grab of a liner off the bat of Aramis Ramirez in the top of the 7th inning, the only high point. The Defensive Play of This Game that found Our Number 2 running swiftly to his right, mouth gaping wide open, tongue wagging (almost a la Michael Jordan going to the hoop), finally diving and catching the ball while sliding on the outfield grass.
Other than that, maybe the most uninspiring game all season. The game so out of hand, thousands left well before the 7th inning stretch, mostly thanks to Livo not finding the plate. Effective all year, The Big Cuban was not tonight. He rarely threw a first strike to most Chicago hitters. And when Hernandez did find the plate, The Cubbies slapped him all over and around Nationals Park to a tune of 10 hits, four walks and seven runs scored. It was probably more remarkable, he even lasted that long.
The abruptness of this early inning collapse by Livan--combining with Washington being unable to take advantage of Chicago's rookie pitcher Casey Coleman--taking much, if not all, of the glamor out of this one before most had even settled in for the evening.
Final score from Nationals Park where Livan Hernandez performed a miraculous effort on the mound--for all the wrong reasons: The Chicago Cubs 9 and Our Washington Nationals 1. Loss Number 72 of 2010 put D.C.'s Team 19 games below .500 and threatens the possibility of even a 70-win season. With Stephen Strasburg to go under further tests tomorrow for his strained flexor tendon--there is a distinct possibility he might not pitch much more this season--if at all. Combining that issue with a now struggling starting rotation--here's hoping Washington doesn't put too much pressure on Jordan Zimmermann when he's recalled from AAA Syracuse for a possible Thursday start against The St. Louis Cardinals.
As much as Jim Riggleman's starting staff needs stability right now--Our Manager can't throw all the burden on J-Zimm alone. If Jordan can exhibit the same promise put on display in early 2009 before Tommy John Surgery over these final five weeks of the season--that should be more than enough to satisfy. Like Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann needs to be taken care of physically today, so both can anchor a pitching staff for tomorrow--in 2011 and beyond.
That is, if the doctors give the full OK.
Although, we doubt many will see Strasburg, or Zimmermann, Yunesky Maya or anybody else for that matter, throwing 121 tosses like Livan Hernandez did this evening at Nationals Park in less than five innings. That was remarkable, just like Washington's Pitching Staff could be if everyone gets healthy and back on track again.
Game Notes & Highlights
Despite the fact that Casey Coleman is a Chicago Cub, it's always good to see the off-spring of an Expansion Washington Senator. Casey's dad is Joe, who pitched for The Senators between 1965 and 1970. A hard throwing phenom that was just maturing into becoming an All-Star in 1971 when Senators Owner Bob Short ruined the franchise--for good--when he traded Coleman, Eddie Brinkman and Aurelio Rodriquez (a top starting pitcher and the left side of Washington's Gold Glove caliber infield) to The Detroit Tigers for a washed up Denny McLain. Arguably, one of the worst trades in baseball history. A swap that Manager Ted Williams did not want to see and then Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn wanted to stop. Kuhn didn't and The Senators moved to Texas one year later.
Casey Coleman garnering his first Major League victory tonight in the very city his father began his Major League career and won his very first Major League Game. Nice symmetry there. Casey Coleman pitched into the 7th and allowed just three hits and one run. He wasn't overpowering, three strikeouts, but he was able to record the personal win.
Before the game, Our Washington Nationals honored Lou Piniella, the now retired former manager of The Cubs who left yesterday to be with his ill mother in Tampa, Florida. Piniella's 46 years in professional baseball began in Washington, D.C. for The Expansion Senators. This evening a special matted print of Sweet Lou's 1964 Topps Baseball Washington Senators Rookie Card was displayed in a ceremony near home plate. Video highlights of Lou Piniella's career were shown on the HDTV Scoreboard as well.
Not only has The Shirley Povich Media Center at Nationals Park been painted the same color blue as the majority of seats in the ballpark, but the lower sides of Garage B--facing the left field wall were painted blue as well over the past 10 days. If anything, the new color scheme makes the Red Porch seats in left-centerfield more prominent. The blue Press Box now sort of hides in the sky at night. It's not as noticeable. The colors blue, green and tan resonate throughout the park, making anything associated with "Getting Your Red On" to stand out.
Abe won the 4h inning Presidents Race, coming from behind to beat Tom & George. Teddy finished last.
And finally--a Jorge Padilla Nationals Tee-Shirt seen at Nationals Park tonight. Really? and Why? That's a Nats Tee we never expected to see on South Capitol Street.
Tonight's In-Game Photos--Susan Walsh (AP)
All Other Photos Copyrighted--Nats320--All Rights Reserved