Saturday, May 19, 2007

Trust Your Starters

Too bad The Racing Presidents were not allowed to play. First, we ran out of position players. Then, we basically ran out of pitchers. Finally, we didn't trust our starters. Unfortunately, the game was still going on--tied at one, moving to the 11th. When their BEST, beat our LEFTOVERS--Ending the ballgame.

Tonight, The Baltimore Orioles beat Our Washington Nationals in those frustrating extra innings, 3-2. Alot happened late, that changed the face of this ballgame. But, not before many in this terrific crowd of 30,661 were treated to an old fashioned pitching duel by two unlikely talents.

Journeyman lefthander Mike Bacsik got the emergency start tonight for Washington and pitched 6 shutout innings. The Orioles threw righthander Jeremy Guthrie, another journeyman, making a name for himself in Baltimore due to their injury riddled pitching staff. Both matching up tonight with their BEST STUFF on the Big Stage of The Major Leagues. Its stunning sometimes the breaks of this game. No one in their right mind would have figured during Spring Training 2007 that these two guys would be handed a legitimate opportunity to prove themselves, yet again.

Bacsik, quite the interesting story. Having played within The Indians, Mets, Rangers, Phillies, Diamondbacks and Nationals Organizations, among others. Mike has been able to hang around--because he is a lefthander. A Southpaw without exceptional stuff, but one that can be effective in spots. Its how you survive in Professional Baseball. During 2006, Bacsik started Spring Training with Our Washington Nationals. Eventually was released, signing with The Diamondbacks. At Tuscon, their AAA Club, he went 11-0 for the season. Yet, that DID NOT earn him an invitation back. So, like just about every other hard luck pitcher in the game during 2007--Bacsik came back to Washington. No other team was OPENLY giving FREE TRYOUTS for their Major League Staff more than Our Nationals.

So tonight, his persistence payed off, ability too. Tonight Mike Bacsik pitched his finest game in The Majors since going the distance for The New York Mets in 2002. He kept The Orioles off balance, was helped out by some nice defense--leaving after 6 complete innings, giving up no runs on 5 hits and one walk. 4 of those 5 hits came with two outs in the innings they occurred--minimizing any damage. Honestly, you couldn't ask more from a last second replacement. And Guthrie wasn't much worse. Only allowing a Nook Logan bloop double down the right field line, scoring My Main Man!! Ryan Church who had singled to left leading off the second inning.

Unfortunately, Our Washington Nationals couldn't close the door tonight, leading 1-0 late. Our OVERTAXED Bullpen can't carry the the team every night. Our Manager Manny Acta certainly understands that--yet, he got a little greedy and went for a 2 inning setup job by Big Jon Rauch--not trusting others to perform as well. Rauch pitched a beautiful 7th inning. But, got in trouble in the 8th when Brian Roberts walked, followed by a Nick Markakis single. And, when both moved up on a double steal with no out, Our Washington Nationals could only intentionally walk Ramon Hernandez to load up the bases-looking for the double play. Whereupon, Pinch Hitter Aubrey Huff lofted a routine fly to medium centerfield--Roberts tagged, knowing Nook Logan HAS NO ARM!!, and scored the game tying run.

And, this is where I need to pick a little. Yeah I know, we had our chances-runners in scoring position in the 2nd, 9th, 10th 11th innings. But, late in this game--with the score 1-0 Washington, before Roberts scored, both Ryan Church and Dimitri Young were removed for defensive reasons--IN THE TOP OF THE 8TH Inning! A one run game is far too close to take out YOUR ONLY LEGITIMATE POWER outside of Ryan Zimmerman. No doubt, Young is major defensive problem at first base. But, My Main Man!! is a GAME CHANGING PLAYER. And, despite what others have rhetorically stated against him, Number 19 is a pretty decent outfielder. Maybe not Gold Glove, but if The Boston Red Sox can keep one of the worst defensive outfielders in the game, Manny Ramirez, playing left at Fenway Park--Our Washington Nationals can keep Church in the lineup during a tight game. I not stupid. I am not saying Church is the same offensive threat as Manny. But, he's not bad. Once again, not getting the opportunity to go all out. Who would you rather see with the game on the line? Tony Batista, Robert Fick, Ryan Langerhans, Nook Logan? Or Church & Young? I understand that Young is a huge liability. But, what has Fick done for us offensively all season long? Like nothing. What good does your late inning defense do, if you can't produce any offense? Especially, when you just lost the lead?

None, as far as I can see. And, as this game moved deeper into the night, Our Manager had used up ALL his position players. There was NO ROOM for error. And, we failed when Winston Abreu walked Ramon Hernandez to lead off the 11th. Freddie Bynum pinch ran and Melvin Mora just stuck his bat out with two strikes to loft a bloop single to left. Bynum moving to 3rd with one out. (By the way, just ask The African Queen, I said to her-"You watch, Mora's not going to be denied. He is a tough hitter in the clutch--always has been"). Melvin Mora is a competitive player. I will always appreciate that.

Then, Jay Payton followed by ripping an Abreu pitch down in the left field corner. Fick, now playing left, could not come up with the ball. The Orioles scoring the game winning runs on a Payton 2 run RBI Double. Although, Our Washington Nationals would score a cheap run in the bottom of the 11th when Austin Kearns walked with 2 outs, trotted to second on Catcher's Indifference, and scored the final run of this night on a single through the hole to left by Tony Batista--it was not enough. Brian Schneider did bat as the game winning run with those two outs. But, hammered Baltimore's Chris Ray's final pitch--right at Aubrey Huff at first base to end the game. 3-2 Baltimore. Two losses in a row, after winning 6 of 7 at RFK Stadium.

Realizing I have praised Our Manager alot lately, it did bother me tonight that Manny may have OVER MANAGED this one. Far too many late inning substitutions--hoping to make an impact, instead of allowing his BEST PLAYERS to win. When Jesus Flores was called upon to pinch hit for Saul Rivera in the 10th, we had wasted our final player. There were two outs at the time of his At-Bat. And, Flores was not going to be inserted into the game. Better utilitization of the bench tonight, would have proved far wiser in the long run. Sometimes, you have to win with What You Got. Not, with what you want to be.

I would have left both Church and Young in tonight's game. And, replaced Young for the 9th, if the lead was still in tact. Taking them both out early, forced the overuse of the bench--killing any realistic hopes of a comeback. Plus, any chance to manuever tonight. Sometimes you have to trust your starting nine.

Game Notes & Highlights:

There were a couple fine defensive plays on the part of Our Washington Nationals tonight. Mike Bacsik leaped to snare a hard hit one hopper up the middle by Miguel Tejada and throw out Tejada to end the top of the 5th.

With Nick Markakis on first in the top of the 3rd inning--Tejada SCORCHED a fast moving grounder up the middle, toward the shortstop side of second base. Cristian Guzman short hopped the ball, ran to second to retire Markakis, proceeding to toss to Young at first for a nifty inning ending double play. Very nice play.

And, in the top of the sixth, Melvin Mora HAMMERED a sharp grounder down the third base line, Ryan Zimmerman slid into the ball, backhanding it--got up and easily tossed out the hard charging Mora at first base. It was The Defensive Play Of This Game. Whether moving to his left or right, or running hard down the the left field line into foul territory. No one plays 3rd base with those skills better in Major League Baseball than Ryan Zimmerman. He is just a terrific fielder. What a joy to watch every game at RFK Stadium.

The Orioles Chad Bradford was called on to pitch a portion of the 9th and 10th innings tonight. There is nothing finer than to see this underarm pitcher toss his baseball with his knuckles scrapping the ground. For some time, I had mentioned him to The African Queen. When she first caught sight of him warming up, she was quite taken by the sight. Chad Bradford is fun to watch.

During the Presidents Race tonight, "The Rushmores" came out riding Segways. They looked, not only cool, but intimidating riding those machines. Good idea, nice scene to watch. Very entertaining.

During the 6th inning, some MORON hopped the railing near the first base dugout and proceeded to walk on the field. At first, no one could quite figure out what was going on. The guy was walking toward the Orioles Guthrie on the mound, gesturing, before being retained my security. Most likely drunk, it was actually strange to watch. The guy was stumbling badly.

Metro FAILED MISERABLY TONIGHT heading to the baseball game. I had to work today. So, Sohna took Metro from The Franconia-Springfield Station to hopefully meet me downtown on Capitol Hill and proceed to the game. If Our Washington Nationals and Metro are trying to convince fans to TAKE METRO to the ballpark they are doing a terrible job. On most every weekend Metro performs track maintenance. This afternoon, a 45 minute SINGLE TRACK DELAY to get from Springfield to National Airport. That's ludicrous!! How can you possibly build commuter confidence if Metro continually DOES NOT CARE. There is NO WAY folks are going to trust your service if you continually screw them.

So, instead of meeting at Capitol South Station at 5:45PM and driving the rest of the way to Lot 8--I drove over to National Airport, picked her up--at 6:30PM--we sat down into our seats in Section 320 at 7:04PM. Boy, were we ever pissed. Metro always amazes me at their "I DON'T CARE ABOUT YOU " Attitude.

Finally, as The African Queen and I were leaving RFK Stadium tonight, MsZimmy & Shawn stopped by to say Hello and chat. MsZimmy and Shawn are original Section 320 members. Their ticket group broke up for 2007 and they have been attending Nats Games AdHoc. Sohna and I missed the fun they added & provided over the past two seasons to our wonderful section. If we could only figure out a way to get them back into the fold. (By the way, MsZimmy--what section are you sitting in on Sunday for the O's game?-Let me know).

Last Night's InGame Photos--(AP) Haraz N. Ghanbari


Anonymous said...

The filthy Metro subway system in the DC area is a national disgrace. The system is totally dysfuctional and nobody cares because there is no accountability.

JayB said...

Stan better hope the Lerner get the whole parking mess fixed at the new stadium because most everyone I talk to says they will not take the metro to the new place. (Two trains from VA...much bigger problems coming!)

Stan has been in the upper deck more recently....not for long but I appreciate it. I had never seen him there before last week.

I hate the PLAN because not matter what Manny does he knows he ALWAYS has a fall back excuse("this year does not matter, so get off my back") based on protecting arms or trying out players in new situations. I really think this is a dangerous approach, he is teaching the team the wrong focus and it is going to be a very hard habit to break.

SBF keeps pointing out to me that the PLAN is not Manny's fault, but it seems he sure hides behind it a lot.

Anonymous said...

I was caught in a single track situation coming in from Vienna for the Father's Day game last year. Fortunately the action in that one came late in the game.

I'm not sure how Metro could do this, but I think there needs to be better ways of calculating, and communicating, the actual impact of delays on a specific trip. I've generally been able to deal with Metro on weekends to RFK, since I can figure out departure times (even use the printed schedule of off peak and weekend departures!) and go from there. But that's assuming there are no significant delays.

Unfortunately, track maintenance has to be done sometime, and the Metro system has very little redundancy built in for any situation when a track is compromised. Those were constraints put into place in the design of the system, and fixing that would be a major construction project. But since those constraints are a given, Metro needs to work on ways to communicate what's going on, so a rider can make an informed decison about the trade offs.

Anonymous said...

I will continue to take Metro, but I understand SBF's concerns. There have been times when I have taken the Red Line and there has been single track service for at least part of the way. (Fortunately, that happened on the way BACK from the stadium.) I had to wait 10-15 minutes for the next train at Metro Station on my way home, and I don't know if that wait was due to the late hour or track maintenance.

What the Lerners should consider is offer express bus service for fans in Virginia. I'd say Maryland, except that Metro isn't that much of a hassle for me, and most Nats fans come from the Dominion. Although most fans will prefer to drive, I suspect that some fans will be willing to pay $15 for a hassle-free trip on an air-conditioned, COMFORTABLE chartered bus trip to RFK or Lerner Field, especially if they live as far away as Manassass.

Long term, I think the Nats will have to build a satellite parking lot(s) across the Anacostia where fans can walk to the stadium from a pedestrian bridge, sort of like what they do in Pittsburgh...