Friday, May 18, 2007

Leaving A Bitter Taste

Runners on 1st and 3rd, down 5-4, bottom of the 9th--2 Out, Ryan Zimmerman at the plate with a Full Count. 22,375 on their feet making a TON OF NOISE!! Chris Ray on the mound for The Baltimore Orioles. Ray was sweating it out. Everyone realizing, there is NO BETTER PERSON Our Washington Nationals want to see at the plate in this position. As the volume inside RFK Stadium reached it highest point tonight, Ray wheeled back and fired away. The Entire Crowd waited with baited breath. "ZIMMY" Swung and HAMMERED THE BASEBALL--The Roar beginning to rise, the anticipation great--Zimmerman has done it again!!!---Driving the ball hard and deep to leftfield---Right At The Orioles Freddie Bynum!! Game Over. Just like that, Our Washington Nationals had lost A THRILLER. Anytime a baseball game comes down to the very last pitch you have to be grateful. The excitement was there, just not the result for Washington.

On most nights, I could live with a loss like that. But, not tonight. And, it has nothing to do with the fact Our Washington Nationals lost to The Angelos Orioles. Unlike so many others, I do not HATE The Orioles. I cheered for them for sometime, but they were never MY TEAM. This game left a bitter taste in my mouth because of Two HORRIBLE Baserunning Mistakes and, to me-- a mindboggling Managerial Move. Yeah, I know--I still love Manny--but in the 8th inning tonight what was he thinking?

Lets begin in reverse order. Nook Logan lead off the bottom of the 9th having replaced Ryan Langerhans in the 7th inning. With the right handed Ray on the mound to close this one out for Baltimore, Logan was batting lefthanded. Nook Logan CAN NOT HIT Lefthanded. Fortunately, Chris Ray walked Logan to begin the bottom of the 9th. RALLYTIME was in FULL EFFECT. Everyone in Attendance tonight in Section 320. A Full House of some of Our Most Faithful Fans. Loud and Boisterous--Section 320 WAS & WE DID PERFORM OUR PART TONIGHT. No One can ever fault our devotion to Our Washington Nationals.

With Jesus Colome the next scheduled hitter, Our Manager Manny Acta sent Ronnie Belliard to the plate to move Logan up. The Correct Move. And, when a Ray Pitch was juggled by The Orioles Catcher Ramon Hernandez-Nook took off--safely stealing 2nd. The Home Faithful Roaring--Washington's Luck on this terrific homestand seemed to be continuing. An advantage Nook Logan THREW AWAY on the very next pitch. Belliard hit a chopper back to the mound toward the first base side--Logan has ALL THE SPEED IN THE WORLD. Yeah, Ray looked him back, BUT MADE A LAZY TOSS to first. THERE IS NO WAY NOOK LOGAN DOES NOT MAKE IT TO THIRD SAFELY! NO WAY!! Yet, he froze-making a terrible baserunning decision to stay at second base.

And, when Felipe Lopez followed with a routine grounder to first for out number 2--Logan's baserunning blunder cost Our Washington Nationals the game tying run. I understand that Cristian Guzman worked a Full Count to eventually walk to bring up Zimmerman. And, I fully realize Zimmerman had a TERRIFIC 7 pitch At-Bat before driving that final stroke right into a fielders glove. But, that final out should have sent this fine game into extra innings. Logan's mental mistake was costly. Truly a Game OUTCOME DECISION. RallyTimeRichard, BangTheDrumNatly & I were just incredulous.

Now let's revert to the Top of The 8th. With the score just 3-2 Baltimore, Manny Acta had Saul Rivera on the mound to keep this game close. Saul simply DID NOT have it tonight. After Nook Logan misplayed a leadoff liner to center by Kevin Millar, Melvin Mora followed with a 4 pitch walk. 1st and 2nd, No Outs. Orioles Manager Sam Perlozzo sent in Freddie Bynum to pinch run for Millar. A Good Decision as Bynum has the speed of a rabbit--Millar the speed of a tortoise. Jay Payton was next and laid down a decent sacrifice bunt to Zimmerman at third, moving the runners up to 2nd and 3rd with One Out.

This is where The MANAGERIAL DECISION TONIGHT was costly. Rivera is a righthanded reliever. The lefthanded Corey Patterson was up next for The Orioles. Perlozzo had the lefthanded swinging Aubrey Huff in the On Deck Circle to Pinch Hit for their Pitcher, John Parrish. The Lefthanded Billy Traber was warming up for Our Washington Nationals. To me, the obvious move to make is for Rivera to walk Patterson intentionally, loading the bases--setting up the force play and potential inning ending double play ball. Then, when Huff is announced, replace Saul with Traber. In this scenario, Sam Perlozzo is most likely FORCED to waste HUFF and replace him with the righthanded hitting Chris Gomez.

Yet, Manny went to the mound to replace Rivera WHILE PATTERSON IS THE SCHEDULED HITTER. When Traber trotted to the mound--The Orioles called Aubrey Huff back to the dugout, unannounced, and sent Gomez up to the On Deck Circle. Our Manager decided to Pitch to Patterson. Corey knocking a Sacrifice Fly to Centerfield for Baltimore's 4th run. Gomez followed with a walk. And, when the very fine Brian Roberts stroked a clean single to center--The Baltimore Orioles had a commanding, Gift 5-2 lead. Our Washington Nationals giving up the games decisive runs due to some very questionable judgment calls.

Did those decisions EVER HURT MORE, when Zimmerman FLATOUT CLUBBED a Danys Baez fastball off the Green Wall above The Orioles Bullpen for a two run homer in the bottom of the 8th. A NO DOUBT BLAST that sent RFK Stadium into a TIZZY!! Ryan Zimmerman COULD NOT POSSIBLY HIT A BASEBALL MUCH HARDER. What a clout!!

Finally, continuing to reverse course--Cristian Guzman KILLED a terrific two out rally by simply, not thinking. FLop had lined a single to center off The Orioles Starter, Steve Trachsel. "The Guz" followed with a walk. Ryan Zimmerman was at the plate. Down 3-0 at this point in the contest, this moment appeared to be The Game Changer. The time in EVERY SINGLE BASEBALL GAME every team has their chance to get back into it. Zimmerman, patient all night---going deep into the counts, working over the Baltimore Pitchers, was doing just that against Trachsel. Six pitches into this fine At-Bat, Number 11 had worked a 2-2 count and had just fouled off the past two offerings from Trachsel. On the 7th pitch of this battle, Steve Trachsel threw the ball in the dirt. The baseball squirting past the catcher, Hernandez. FLop saw the play developing in front of him and WISELY took off for third. Guzman hesitated, stumbled and well after Ramon Hernandez picked up the errant ball--AMAZINGLY TOOK OFF FOR SECOND BASE. Hernandez, he of a fine throwing arm--threw out "THE GUZ" by a GOOD 15 FEET!! to end this game breaking opportunity.

What in the world was "The Guz" thinking of? Lopez understood the situation developing, immediately, and took advantage of it. Guzman did not think, only reacted--far to late. Just a bad decision. With YOUR BEST CLUTCH HITTER at the plate--YOU DO NOT TAKE A STUPID CHANCE. I was so pissed at this play I had to immediately get up and walk out to the concourse behind Section 320 to cool off. YOU DO NOT TAKE THE BAT OUT OF RYAN ZIMMERMAN'S HAND!! What a costly mistake!

Those three decisions, described above, left me feeling awful after tonight's ballgame. Getting beat is one thing, beating yourself through mental mistakes, something that will always bother me. Yeah, we lost to The Baltimore Orioles tonight 5-4, but the outcome should have been far different. As upset as I was, leaving RFK Stadium tonight, Biff did remind me about the most basic rule of this great game: "Tomorrow is a new day, a new game--If we win, this one will be forgotten."

No doubt--Biff is correct, but until 7:05PM Saturday Evening, this loss will irk me. A winnable game, given away.

All of which, leaves a BITTER TASTE IN MY MOUTH.

Game Notes & Highlights:

In the bottom of the 5th, down 3-0, Ryan Zimmerman led off with a walk. Trachsel hit Ryan Church putting runners at 1st and 2nd--no outs. Austin Kearns hit into a rally killing double play, with Zimmerman moving to third. Then, Dimitri Young powered a Trachsel pitch HIGH INTO THE SKY in right. At first, his knock looked like a warning track out. Yet, the wind got ahold of it, and the next thing you know-the baseball had BANGED OFF The Washington Hall of Stars Banner above the Nationals Bullpen. A surprising two run homer to put us back into this game. RallyTimeRichard and I looked at each other STUNNED. Neither of us thought that ball would carry. In fact, Dimitri had a nice game at the plate, tonight. Two hits and a walk in four plate appearances. But, Number 21 continues to struggle at first base. The Orioles knocked two hits right past him. Singles that went under or by his glove. Young has no mobility. The First Base Position in the field for Our Washington Nationals just killing us.

Jason Simontacchi went 6 innings in his 3rd start for Washington. He wasn't great and he wasn't terrible. Giving up 8 hits and one walk through 94 pitches, Simontacchi hung in there. Jason's performance tonight similar to Matt Chico's yesterday. Unfortunately, Number 50 did not get the fortunate key hits to give him the lead, nor did Our Bullpen save the evening, as has been the case over the past week at RFK Stadium.

There were Two Fine Defensive Plays by Our Washington Nationals tonight--both of which--going with the mood of this post--did not result in outs--but were nice efforts, nonetheless. Both occurred in the 5th inning.

Brian Roberts laced a fast dropping liner to left centerfield. Ryan Langerhans did not give up on the ball, took a HUGE CHANCE, and with the ball mere inches from the turf DOVE FORWARD in an attempt to snare the ball off the ground. He almost made the catch. The Baseball glancing off his now sliding glove along the turf. Fortunately, the ball deflected in front of him. If not, the speedy Roberts may well have circled the bases for a Inside The Park Home Run.

Later in the 5th, Ramon Hernandez hit a bouncing scorcher to Zimmerman's left. Ryan dove, got to his feet and underarmed whipped the ball to first base, but off the bag, toward right field. Dimitri Young had to come off the base to prevent the ball from going down the rightfield line. For a moment, Zimmerman forgot the runner was the very slow moving Hernandez. If he had set himself, a better throw would have happened. And, the third out of this inning would have been recorded. An important out, with Ramon safe, Kevin Millar followed with a clutch single to center, scoring Nick Markakis for Baltimore's third run of the evening.

In the 9th, Fans were treated to a really fun Double Play. With one out, Ramon Hernandez on first with a walk, Freddie Bynum grounded to FLop at second. Hernandez was near Lopez, but stopped, forcing Felipe to throw to Robert Fick at first base to retire Bynum. Hernandez then took off for second, resulting in a WILD BACK AND FORTH RUNDOWN. When it was all said and done--the final out of the inning was recorded. The Official Scoring on the Double Play: 4-3-6-3-4. Like most everyone else left in the old ballpark, Section 320 enjoyed that rundown. Very amusing to watch.

You can't fault Our Bullpen tonight. They have carried the load ALL SEASON LONG. Its quite amazing they have done so well, with so many starters now on The Disabled List. With another journeyman going tomorrow--Mike Bacsik, you have to wonder whether they can continue their valiant efforts.

Honestly, it was a surprisingly small crowd for a Friday Night, against the other local team. 22,375 is far less than I expected. 30,000 was my prediction.

Finally, today was Our General Manager Jim Bowden's Birthday. The only reason I know that is because the Giant Video Board in Right Field announced it during the Happy BIrthday Greetings Portion of The 5th Inning.

Tonight's InGame Photos--(AP) Pablo Martinez Monsivais


JayB said...

Thanks for the great write up as always....I was unable to attend or watch this one. Yet I feel so informed by your account that gives life to the Box score that I am emboldened enough to add to this posting……

Is Manny following through on the promise put a team on the field that is fundamentally sound? I honestly have forgotten what his stance is currently, at first all mistakes were OK (back in spring training), then as I recall physical errors were OK but not mental, now it seems mental errors are OK as long as you hustle.

To me the type of mental errors the Nats display often were the #1 target to eliminate this year.

FLOP not covering Second on a 2 out grounder to Zim, Kearns not knowing how many outs there are on the bases, both just this past few games, are just the tip of the iceberg for this team and Manny.

My honest question is has the no worries, no pressure approach taken by Manny (as his coping mechanism to get through this year?) been responsible for the mental errors that seem to be increasing not decreasing?

Also in the case of FLOP he was not even hustling last week to add to his mental errors. I agree Manny sat him down for a game yet to me FLOP is not a "keeper" based on his inability to snap out of a mental funk on his own the past few weeks. He is not a young player yet he has not displayed much mental toughness so far.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to Nook Logan's nap on second base, the Nats lost the game. If he had not been asleep, he would have scored on FLop's infield "nubber", which was equal to a perfectly place bunt

Screech's Best Friend said...

Jayb--Both Logan & Guzman's Mental Mistakes are not Manny's fault. Both had "BRAIN Freeze" and it cost us. Its the sign of a struggling team. If your team is a Top Contender you can get away with these mistakes every once and awhile. On Our Washington Nationals these mistakes are MAGNIFIED. This is WHO WE ARE RIGHT NOW. We are not a contending team. Our talent is not the best, yet. That's not the manager's fault. Logan's non run in the 9th was just infuriating though. His sole reason for being in the game is his SPEED. And, he didn't use it. I would love to ask Manny why he did not walk Patterson with Rivera, to set up Aubrey Huff. His answer would be very interesting to me. Unfortunately, I can't. And, none of the Beat Writers seemed to catch it, surprisingly. Manny Acta cares, he's becoming a quality manager. Yet, he also may well still need some more experience. That's OK, that's what this season is all about. Each and everyday Manny needs to adjust to a constantly revolving roster. He's got alot on his plate. More than most, he really has a difficult job. He's handling it well. Thanks.

JayB said...

I agree that overall Manny has been a plus this year. Your points are well made.

It may be that I am being unrealistic. I have not watched as many "other" teams as I did pre Nats, but are the number of mental errors we seen more than say the Reds? Is the amount of brain freezes more that say in the 1970's (when I was playing baseball every day)?

To me the Nats and perhaps all Major Leaguers are less "into the game" than we were at the High School and College levels. Again I might be just remembering things wrong?

RallyTime Richard said...


"To me the type of mental errors the Nats display often were the #1 target to eliminate this year."

Nailed It!!!


"If your team is a Top Contender you can get away with these mistakes every once and awhile."

You know I love ya, but if your team is a top contender, you don't make these mistakes, especially not with the game one the line. Contenders generally make the physical mistakes. Take the horror of 86, Stanley, Shiraldi, and Buckner all made physical mistakes, much to my horror. Oh the horror, the horror.

Anonymous said...

Teams that are "top contenders" don't make these mistakes. What you are seeing is that the "little things" not just pitching and hitting are important and is what is the real difference between contenders and pretenders. Talk to your Oriole brothern. They'll agree.