Sunday, September 12, 2010
"In all the years I been watching baseball, I don't think I have ever seen 2-unassisted between 1st and 2nd base," stated MASN's Phil Wood. "Not once, even while being an official scorer."
In the top of the 5th inning at Nationals Park this Sunday afternoon, The Florida Marlins' new "Superman", Mike Stanton, finally made a mistake. After slamming out two home runs in his two previous at-bats and singling to lead off this frame--Florida's Rookie Rightfielder thought a pitch thrown in the dirt by Collin Balester had bounced too far away from Pudge Rodriguez. Leading off 1st, Stanton briefly took off for 2nd base before realizing Our Washington Nationals catcher had the ball right in his throwing hand.
Frozen in time and caught too far off base to get back safely, or run to the next bag--Mike Stanton stopped dead in his tracks. And Pudge Rodriguez rushed toward him and made not only The Defensive Play of This Game, but one of the smartest defensive plays seen in some time. In many similar situations, a catcher will IMMEDIATELY throw the baseball to his shortstop or second baseman in the middle of diamond. A rundown ensues, too many tosses, sometimes an error, frequently bad baseball.
Our Number 7 though has his head together. Pudge ran directly to Stanton while Mike waited for Rodriguez to make his next move. Believing if he ran toward 2nd base, Ivan would throw to Ian Desmond--Stanton deked running that way. Pudge faked his throw as Mike looked back over his shoulder and immediately turned back toward 1st.
Big Mistake--right into the out.
Pudge Rodriguez moving the baseball from his throwing hand, to his glove hand while tagging Mike Stanton out easily. 2-Unassisted, if you are keeping score. A rarity in the game of baseball for an out officially scored in the middle of the infield. No folks, you don't see that play too often in the great game. Unfortunately, The Defensive Play Of This Game only continued the tone of this afternoon's game.
Too little teamwork, not enough hustle, resulting in one of the blandest games of the season on South Capitol Street. I know, it's hard to believe a final 6-5 score could not be compelling--but this one was. A one-run game in which we truly felt Our Washington Nationals were 10 runs down.
There was a routine ground ball botched. A pickoff throw sent sailing into centerfield. The second error of the day for D.C.'s Team which incredibly allowed that man with Super Human Speed--Emilio Bonifacio--to score easily from 2nd Base. Yes, 2nd Base. And of course, there was the obligatory bases loaded, bottom of the 5th opportunity that could have put Washington back in the lead--but ended with a simple ground out to The Fish's Dan Uggla at 2nd base.
The chances were there. The backing was not.
Only 16,788 posted up at Nationals Park for this one. The 5th consecutive defeat for Washington and 2nd consecutive sweep on South Capitol Street at the hands of The Florida Marlins. A just completed weekend of baseball by a D.C. Team that wasn't too compelling. Whatever the dominance The Fish have over Washington needs to figured out--by 2011. Florida's pitching is good, but except for Josh Johnson, not exceptional. The Marlins' Anabal Sanchez has thrown a no-hitter, but he's proven to be beatable. Just as the rest of Major League Baseball is finding out about Alex Sanabia and Chris Volstad. Those three pitchers Florida's starters this weekend that pretty much kept Washington's bats under control.
Yeah, we understand, Our Washington Nationals are not going to record a winning record for the 5th consecutive year--that's disappointing. But our players on the field need to give their all until that final out of the 162nd Game is finally played in 2010. That's 19 games from now, not on September 12, 2010 after Game Number 143.
Nothing less is acceptable.
It's a long season. It's also a job. And to win every team needs more than 2-Unassisted.
Final Score from Nationals Park where you can't win many ball games or record many outs without the aid of your teammates: The Florida Marlins 6 and Our Washington Nationals 5. Loss Number 83 was disappointing because D.C.'s Team showed little life on the field of play. Going through the motions is not something The African Queen and I are paying for to attend each and every game. No doubt, we support Our Team at all times, but we also expect to see the effort from the very first pitch until that very last out is recorded.
Every Day. Every Game.
That was not the case today.
Going down fighting hard for any loss is appreciated--losing unassisted by fellow teammates--is not.
That's why Pudge Rodriguez's 2-Unassisted putout of Mike Stanton in the top of the 5th inning between first and 2nd stood out so glaringly at Nationals Park. Despite being a team game, Pudge's instincts told him to do it all himself. Maybe that's why a surefire Hall Of Fame Catcher knocked in three runs this afternoon as well.
Game Notes & Highlights
Jordan Zimmermann. Wow, just not sharp from the get go. He only lasted three innings. The Zim With Two NN's gave up five hits, three walks, five runs, four earned and only struck out one. If today didn't prove that it takes 18 months to fully recover from Tommy John Surgery--nothing else will. You can't blame him. It's a part of the recovery process--sadly.
Washington's Bullpen continued its excellent work--six complete innings pitched, just one run allowed. Miguel Batista allowing a single run in the 4th. Matt Capp's may well be missed after being traded to Minnesota for Wilson Ramos, but when it comes to Washington's relievers--they've been getting the job done--despite the fact that Drew Storen still struggles a little bit each and every time out. Today in the 9th inning, even Pitching Coach Steve McCatty had to saunter to the mound to speak with D.C.'s Closer In Waiting. This is the rookie educational process. No matter how well you performed in college or minor league ball--there is a learning curve to the Major Leagues. You don't usually step to the plate in Big League ball without the skill to hit. And Drew Storen is being instructed about that right now.
How ironic that 2008 Former National Brian Sanches got the win today for The Florida Marlins. And you have to give Clay Hensley (Florida's latest closer) some credit for recording his 3rd save of 2010 today. He worked a game in relief earlier this year against Washington in which his father passed away. He just takes the ball whenever it's given and does a pretty good job. He may never be an all-star, but he's one of those guys good teams win with. You have to appreciate that.
Ivan Rodriguez knocked in three of Washington’s five runs with a 2-run single in the 2nd inning and a RBI groundout in the 4th. Including his 3-RBI effort today, Ivan Rodriguez has 10 RBI in his last 4 starts. Ryan Zimmerman knocked in his 83rd run of the season with a single to right in the 3rd scoring Ian Desmond. The Z-Man now with 42 multi-hit games, a team high.
Mike Stanton has all the makings of a great young ballplayer. He took Jordan Zimmermann deep twice today for his 19th and 20th homers of the season. Remember now, Stanton didn't get the call up to the Majors until June 8th. That young man is mighty impressive. A joy to watch play every single time he's visited Nationals Park this season.
And of course, Emilio Bonifacio continued to be a pest. Washington's Former 2nd Baseman of The Future may not play often for The Florida Marlins anymore, but whenever he takes on his former team--it's like Bonifacio turns into a Hall Of Fame Player. Again today, three hits, two runs scored--a total pest. Anybody that can score from second on a wild pickoff throw from Jordan Zimmermann that went into short centerfield has talent. Bonifacio's just never put it all together, just yet. But really, that man is scary to play against.
If there is any consolation prize from this weekend's sweep by The Marlins--Nats Killer--Hanley Ramirez did not hit a home run. Although, you could consider Mike Stanton as Washington's new Nats Killer as well.
George won the 4th inning Presidents Race beating Abe by a foot or two.
There was a Ross Detwiler Jersey Number 29 sighting at Nationals Park today. Detwiler may wear Number 48 today, but when Washington called him up for the first time in 2007 and he pitched one inning at Atlanta--Ross wore Number 29 that September. A number not worn by anybody in a D.C. Uniform since Jorge Sosa in 2009. Catcher Gary Bennett (2005) 3rd Base Coach Tony Beasley (2006), Michael Restovich (Early-2007) and Ryan Langerhans (2008) were the others.
And finally--as much as we love the energy that Terrence the Nat Pack guy brings to the ballpark each day--his whistle blowing has got to go. There is not a sporting venue anywhere in this country where a seating bowl whistle is allowed to be used just before or during play. It's distracting and it needs to come to an end. Seriously.
Today's InGame Photos--Ann Heisenfelt (AP)
All Other Photos--Nats320--All Rights Reserved