Friday, August 27, 2010
This one was special.
20 runs had crossed the plate.
29 base hits rapped out.
Albert Pujols was intentionally walked three times.
43 different players for the two teams involved had been inserted into the game.
And that includes 15 pitchers--three of whom actually pinch hit. Yeah, True!!
Jordan Zimmermann even made his 2010 debut.
The Number 1 Overall Pick from the June Draft actually hit one into the third tier at Nationals Park--down the rightfield line--in a showcased Pre-Game Batting Practice Session at 3PM. Two Hours and 45 minutes before Bryce Harper was introduced to the Washington Media. And believe it or not, Harper was more impressive answering questions on the dias--then standing at the plate. Really, he was downright funny.
Tony Vega and his Band received an extended showcase when their Wil Nieves' batting music was played in the 12th inning. A full one minute rendition as Nieves settled in at the plate--which fully featured Charlie & Dave along with "The Jack Of All Things, and a few others inside the 7th Heaven Radio Broadcast Booth truly "Dancing With The Stars". The only broadcast booth in baseball known for "The Fly Under" was Center Stage as this game went deeper and deeper into the night.
Just like witnessing a second Presidents Race this night played out on South Capitol Street--in the middle of the 13th frame.
Yet through it all, Home Plate Umpire Joe West, drenched in sweat, remained standing for four hours and 34 minutes while calling 443 pitches. How in world did he keep himself erect? Joe West is a rather large man.
And still, no winner had been decided.
YES, IT WAS ONE OF THOSE NIGHTS AT THE BALLPARK!!
The Die Hard Fans dream. Free baseball, seemingly, never to end.
How could it not be fun when Our Washington Nationals and The St. Louis Cardinals were still tied up at 10 runs apiece after Abe & George were announced Co-Winners during 13th frame racing event for The Rushmores? If The Presidents Race couldn't find a winner, how could two Major League Baseball Teams?
Those few thousand still remaining from the official attendance count of 22,317 were witnessing a tremendous rollercoaster ride.
There was J-Z's much anticipated 2010 Major League debut--exactly 53 weeks after undergoing Tommy John Surgery. Our Number 27's velocity was there, but his command was not, especially when The Greatest Slugger In The Game--Albert Pujols--took Jordan Zimmermann deep, again, this time to right center leading off the 4th for his 400th Career Home Run.
There were five lead changes and two blown saves.
Incredibly, in the 9th inning alone, both teams made tremendous comebacks.
Nothing better for Washington fans than watching Roger Bernadina rocket launch a line drive two run homer off The Cards' closer--Ryan Franklin-in the bottom of the 9th inning. Bernadina's first home run EVER at Nationals Park which featured Our Number 2 SO JACKED UP over his game tying blow with one out, he raised his right fist TRIUMPHANTLY into the night sky as he rounded 1st base and headed to second. The game saver for D.C.'s Team that sent this affair into extra frames and D.C.'s Fans into a tizzy.
The African Queen and I could go on and on about this one. There was some great hitting, and some poor pitching before the 10 inning began--which obviously--led to the high scoring game. Then when personnel for both teams' benches dwindled as this extended game went deeper and deeper into the night--the pitchers took over.
And so did the defense.
Two Defensive Plays Of This Game memorable for outstanding efforts.
The first coming in the top of the 11th when The Cardinals Brendan Ryan DRILLED a Miguel Batista fastball to the deepest part of left field on South Capitol Street. Bernadina used all of his God-Given Speed and athletic ability to chase that ball to the wall--in front of the St. Louis Bullpen. And just when everyone believed "The Flying Dutchman" had ZERO CHANCE of catching that baseball, Roger slammed himself into the padded fence and caught the baseball--inches from going over for the go-ahead home run. A great catch, under pressure, while crashing one's self into a hard barrier.
Completely the opposite of Ryan's returning of Bernadina's favor, moments later, in the bottom of the 12th. Willie Harris and Wil Nieves had started a two-out rally by walking against St. Louis reliever Fernando Salas as Adam Kennedy stepped to the plate with the chance to finally end this game. As the crowd rose to its feet in anticipation, Washington's left handed hitting infielder lofted a Salas pitch into short centerfield--what assuredly appeared to be the game winning run.
With the home crowd roaring in anticipation of D.C.'s Team plating the winning run, Ryan--playing shortstop for The Cardinals--darted far to his left. When he realized there was zero chance of catching the fast falling baseball on the run--Brendan dove and extended his left hand--his glove hand--as far as humanly possibly. Amazingly, the baseball lodged within the outer webbing of his leather mitt. The Snow Cone Catch that you really had to appreciate for everything it meant.
The killing of the sure game winning rally for Washington and the continuation of one incredible game.
But as with all good things, they must come to an end.
Finally, maybe even thankfully, as midnight approached in The Nation's Capital, The Cardinals latest reliever--Blake Hawksworth--hit Nyjer Morgan leading off the bottom of the 13th frame. The predecessor to the endgame to quickly come. Alberto Gonzalez pushing Our Number 1 to 3rd base with one out on a seeing eye liner that JUST GOT OVER the glove of Brendan Ryan at short. Another game winning situation now set up that Ian Desmond didn't waste any time with--when he rapped Hawksworth's first pitch, a fastball, right up the middle of the diamond. A shot that Brendan Ryan couldn't handle this time and watched in vein has his teammate--2nd Baseman Aaron Miles--deflected the baseball into short right field.
Nyjer Morgan scoring the 21st run of this game. The game winner 4 hours and 34 minutes after Jordan Zimmermann tossed his first Big League Pitch in over a year. Up and Down, Back & Forth this game was played. One of those get togethers Sohna and I would never get up and leave from--no matter the lateness of the hour.
We never want to miss out on anything special--which this game turned out to truly be.
Final Score from Nationals Park where you really had to wonder--who was going to pitch next for D.C.'s Team? There was no one left: Our Washington Nationals 11 and The St. Louis Cardinals 10. Believe it or not, starter John Lannan was actually sitting in the bullpen as the 13th frame began. He was Our Manager Jim Riggleman's choice to enter had this game been extended even farther. Thankfully, Curly "W" Number 54 did not need Our Number 31's services, but The Bang!! Zoom!! Of The Fireworks!! concluding a satisfying feeling for D.C. Baseball. No one wants to play for that long and that hard, as these two teams played this evening and lose. Washington needed that win, just as much as our fans.
And that, along with the eventual 30 hits, 21 runs scored, great defensive plays and the "Friends & Family" atmosphere that existed toward the end made August 26th, 2010--A Special Night At Nationals Park.
Game Notes & Highlights
The Zim with Two NN's was hit pretty hard tonight by a good St. Louis Team. You had to love the speed of his pitches. He was reaching the mid-90's on his fastball, but he might also well have been nervous. After sitting out for so long due to Tommy John Surgery--even if only for one year and one week--no one could have expected a miracle from the young man. It was great seeing J-Z on the mound again wearing The Curly "W". Hopefully, over the next four weeks, Jordan Zimmermann can find himself on the mound so he can confidently, and safely, move to a full 2011 campaign.
Just like Ryan Franklin blew a save in the bottom of the 9th by allowing Roger Bernadina's game tying two-run homer, Drew Storen was absolutely rocked tonight by The Cards. Storen was hit for four earned runs in one full inning pitched. He left as the potential loser in the 9th--only to be saved by Bernadina's unexpected 9th home run of 2010.
Bernadina, Ryan Zimmerman and Alberto Gonzalez had two hits apiece and together scored five runs. Ian Desmond stroked four hits and knocked in three runs--including the game winner in the 13th--in seven total at-bats. Michael Morse pinch hit in the 6th and drove in the game tying run on a sacrifice fly. Willie Harris put Washington back in the lead again in the bottom of the 7th with a two out, two run rbi single.
Doug Slaten eventually picking up the personal win--his 4th in five decisions. Blake Hawksworth took the loss for St. Louis--his 8th in 12 decisions this season.
Albert Pujols nearly broke his right ankle when he slipped on the tarp down the right field line chasing a foul ball in the 11th inning. After laying down for a while, and getting medical treatment, the big guy returned to the game and played the rest of the way. And received a very nice ovation from the crowd.
More on Bryce Harper's introduction at Nationals Park coming later on Nats320, including a couple of exclusive interviews.
During the 7th inning this evening, Sohna and I got a big kick out of watching former RFK Stadium Section 320 original members and season ticket holders--MickNats, SenatorNat & Andy--receiving a Random Act Of Red at Nationals Park. Later on, I ran down to visit them. All four of us haven't sat together at a single Nats Game since the very last one ever played by Our Washington Nationals on East Capitol Street. Sort of hard to believe when we think about how much time we spent together during the first years after baseball returned to The Nation's Capital.
And finally, upon returning to my seat in Section 218 at the end of the 7th frame, I was taken by total surprise to see a couple of special guests visiting with Sohna. Sheila and Jordan Zimmermann's Dad, Jeff, were back at Nationals Park to take in Jordan's 2010 Major League Debut. They had travelled down from Auburndale, Wisconsin with other family members to take in the game. And made the effort to stop by Section 218 and say hello. A special and unexpected treat for both of us.
Tonight's InGame Photos--Greg Fiume (Getty Images)
Morgan/Bernadina Photos--Alex Brandon (AP)
All Other Photos--Nats320--All Rights Reserved