Saturday, July 07, 2007

That Heart Attack Feeling

Once again, "The Chief Cardiologist" had spun himself into one serious jam. Chad Cordero trotted out to begin the Top Of The 9th this evening at RFK Stadium, having inherited a two run lead over The Milwaukee Brewers. Just Four Batters later, Our Washington Nationals held a slim one run lead at 5-4, the tying run was at second. The Brewers Winning Run was standing at the plate. There was just one out. Yes, more times than anyone would like to admit--"The Most Thrilling Closer In The Game" was walking one serious tightrope. Could he possibly wiggle himself out of his self imposed troubles?

Our Number 32 had started off this last inning by getting Pinch Hitter Craig Counsell to line out to Ronnie Belliard at second. But, when Milwaukee Manager Ned Yost sent Johnnie Estrada up to Pinch Hit for Pitcher Derrick Turnbow--this game got mighty uncomfortable. Especially after MickNats, in Section 320, turned to me asking: "Did not Estrada Hit a Home Run Last Night?" Yet, a split second before I could answer him, "NO--that was Braun and Mench"--Johnnie Estrada UNLOADED on Chad Cordero for a solid Homer over the right field wall to pull The Brewers back within one run.

The Look of Disbelief from most every single Nationals Fan still remaining from tonight's original count of 24,774--was just incredulous. How many times have we seen this before? And, when "The Chief" walked Milwaukee's next hitter Corey Hart--you had to wonder whether Our Washington Nationals would be able to hold on for the win. A victory that looked even more in doubt when Cordero threw a Wild Pitch, bouncing the ball in front of the plate to J.J, Hardy--the quick reaction of Hart scampering to second freely--setting up the real possibility that Our Number 32 was going to blow The Save.

Yet, as he has always shown throughout his nearly three seasons as a Washington National, Chad Cordero must have ICE IN HIS VEINS. When in trouble--he appears to concentrate better. Gathering himself under fire, a real trademark for Our Closer. The Pitcher named Chad Cordero that gets into his quandary, many times--a far different Chad Cordero that extinguishes his very own fire. Really, he's quite remarkable those times.

And tonight--"The Most Thrilling Closer In The Game" called on HIS OWN FIREMAN to douse his self made flames. With just about every single person still in attendance on their feet, Chad got Hardy to bounce a hard grounder down the third base line. Ryan Zimmerman went nearly behind the bag, fielded the baseball, set himself and threw a perfect toss to first base to retire the fast moving J.J. The Crowd erupting in GREAT CHEER, almost a sense of relief--knowing "The Chief" needed just one more out to close this one out.

But, as is always the case--Cordero had to face THE HEART OF THE BREWERS LINEUP, because of his early troubles. Ryan Braun slowly walked to the plate. He of Two Home Runs last night--one more this night. With the very dangerous Prince Fielder waiting patently On Deck for Milwaukee--Chad was going to face Braun. Our Manager Manny Acta had no choice. Our Number 32 had certainly ignited and fueled this fire--it was his responsibility to put this blaze out.

To no one's surprise--Chad Cordero went to a FULL COUNT on Braun (really what did you expect?). The Sixth Pitch of this At-Bat would be crucial. If Our Closer walks Braun--he has to face Fielder. Already this evening--Prince Fielder had CLUBBED out two TITANIC SOLO HOME RUNS. A Fly Ball Pitcher, Facing a Deep Threat--Fly Ball Hitter. Manny didn't want to see that. Our Washington Nationals did not want to see that. Not a single Nats Fan wanted to see that. Even The African Queen realizing the potential disaster of Prince Fielder coming up with the game on the line--did not want to see that. "Can we just end this now," she proclaimed.

This Was The Pitch. Yes, Chad needed to end this one--right now. Looking in for the sign from Brian Schneider--Cordero rared back and tossed in his pitch to the awaiting Ryan Braun. Braun swung and hit a sharp grounder near the hole between short and third base. FLop fielded the baseball--set himself--and fired the ball across the diamond to Robert Fick for The Final Out of this Game!!

Bang!! Zoom!! Went The Fireworks!! "The Ice Man" Chad Cordero had reversed himself, saved this game, not only for Our Washington Nationals, but from his very own self. "The Chief Cardiologist" nearly gave every single Nats Fan a stroke tonight. But, somehow, someway, like he most always does--found the right medication to extinguish all that pain. How many times can One Player Give His Teams Fans such a Heart Attack Feeling?

This Win, was a Good Win, although Curly "W" number 35 would have never even reached this point without one Furious Come From Behind Rally and, arguably, The Finest Catch of This Season--a turning point this night.

Trailing 2-0 after both Braun and Fielder slammed solo Home Runs off tonight's Nats Starter--Jason Simontacchi, Our Washington Nationals mounted a serious comeback in the bottom of the fifth. An inning that saw a few struggling Nats Hitters break out and provide some much needed support. With one out--Ronnie Belliard got this important rally going with a clean single to center off Milwaukee's Jeff Suppan. Ryan Zimmerman followed with another sharp single to left center--moving the fast moving Belliard to third. The Crowd now rising to their feet in anticipation of a comeback. A rally that became serious when "The Hottest Hitter On Planet Earth"--Dimitri Young slammed a single to right that Corey Hart misplayed. Belliard scoring Washington's First Run, "Z" hustling to third--Our 2007 All Star standing on first base with an RBI Single--his 43'rd on the season.

Suppan was in trouble--but Ryan Church and Austin Kearns were the next scheduled hitters. For some time now--My Main Man!! has been slumping. No key hits, no key RBI. Yet, Our Manager has been good to his word since Spring Training. He continues to throw his players out there--giving them every chance to break out and produce. Never does he criticize them. So, Our Number 19 stepped to the plate--and laced a Suppan pitch, the opposite way--down the left field line. The Crowd now Roaring at RFK--Zimmerman scored this game's tying run. Dimitri now on second. And, My Main Man!! proudly standing on first with a clutch hit--a vital stroke with the game on the line--not seen from My Favorite Player in some time.

Could it be, now that with Church delivering once again--Austin Kearns could also do the job?? Our Starting Right Fielder had not knocked an extra base hit in 15 games. Time and Time again--"Bluegrass" has walked to the batters box, with crucial runs on the bases--only to disappoint. Yet, on this night--when troubled players looked for a fresh start--Austin Kearns DID DELIVER with his finest stroked ball over the past month. Our Number 25 flat out BELTED a Jeff Suppan pitch deep into the gap in left center field. A hit that not one Milwaukee Brewers player was going to reach. Clearing the bases, The Old Ballyard was Rocking, once again. Austin Kearns had slapped his biggest Two RBI HIT in what seems like a month. Dimitri Young and Ryan Church scored easily. Our Washington Nationals had come from behind and taken the lead--in grand style. A Rally with Key Clutch Hits. A moment not lost on any Nats Fan having witnessed Our Teams consistent failures to plate runners in scoring position.

You had to feel good about that Rally. Our Washington Nationals scored by putting together consecutive hits--being patient--not just swinging at everything thrown their way by a suffering starter. And, they did it without the long ball. This comeback was earned.

A revival that nearly turned to disaster, one half inning later--when Jason Simontacchi again got himself in trouble--but was saved by a GREAT DEFENSIVE PLAY. With the score now 4-2 Washington, Prince Fielder led off the 6th with a TOWERING HOMER To Centerfield--his 29th of the 2007 season. Like his Father, Cecil, before him--Prince Fielder can flat out TORCH THE BASEBALL. And, Prince is a far better fielder than his dad--decent mobility for a big guy. Now down just one run--The Brewers continued to mount a rally of their own. With one out--Damian Miller singled to center and Tony Gwynn, Jr followed with a single to right--Miller moving to third on the hit. You had to figure, Simontacchi was not long for this game. Luis Ayala was warming up in the bullpen. The Free Swinging Rickie Weeks was next. Weeks fouled off three of Jason's first five pitches and was down 1-2 in the count. Brian Schneider walked out to briefly talk with Our Number 50. What was said--must have been the definitive word--as Simontacchi struck Weeks out swinging and immediately pumped his throwing hand, into his glove, in excitement. One hit from losing the lead--Jason had fought back, but still needed to get Pinch Hitter Tony Graffanino--hitting for Suppan. Nearing 100 pitches for this game--Our Starter was not long for this affair. And, you could tell, no matter what--Graffanino would be Simontacchi's last hitter. Worried that Gwynn, Jr would scamper to second base to get the go ahead run in scoring position--Our Number 50 kept throwing over to first--maybe losing his concentration a little on the hitter at hand.

Eventually--Simontacchi had fallen behind in the count, 3-1 and knew he needed to throw his very best pitch. Unfortunately, he did not. Graffanino got ahold of one--a launched the baseball into the gap in left centerfield. The Baseball Diving precipitously. Playing Centerfield, Ryan Langerhans DID NOT GIVE UP ON IT--ran hard to his right. And, with the ball just a few feet from the ground--Our Number 4 dove, completely stretched out--extended his right hand--his glove--reached out as far as he possibly could--AND CAUGHT THE BALL!! All the while landing hard--sprawled on the outfield grass!! Simontacchi jumping up and fist pumping high in the air in excitement.

Ryan Langerhans had made one Excellent Catch. A Game Saving Catch--and Unquestionably The Defensive Play of This Game. The Roar of the Crowd wonderful to hear. Everyone had to appreciate that catch. Ryan received a well deserved Standing Ovation on his return to The Nationals Third Base Dugout. What A Catch!! A Play that was probably better than Ryan Zimmerman's sprawl along the tarp in foul territory the other night. And, is only rivaled by Austin Kearns diving catch and throw on the Warning Track in St. Louis earlier this year. Everyone will probably have their favorite. But, those three plays stand out as The Defensive Plays of This Year--so far.

Game Notes & Highlights:

Jason Simontacchi won his sixth game of the season tonight. He actually didn't pitch badly. He got hammered though for some solo Home Runs when he got three pitches up--but his command of his breaking pitch and change up seemed quite good. His Outing very strange. At times, he's very impressive, has good composure on the mound. Then, at other times--he's quite ordinary. I haven't quite figured him out yet. Jason Simontacchi is one of the most fascinating players on Our Team to watch.

My Main Man!! had three hits tonight in three plate appearances with one run scored and his 36th RBI. All coming on the heels of a 2-19 slump. Austin Kearns decisive double plated his 29th & 30th RBI of the season. He also walked twice. And, on a night struggling hitters provided support, even Felipe Lopez got into the act with a sharp double to the right field wall, past Corey Hart, scoring Nook Logan (running for Church) with the VERY IMPORTANT 5th Insurance Run.

Saul Rivera and Big Jon Rauch were stellar again during the 7th and 8th Innings, before handing the baseball off to "The Chief". Including Cordero's surrendered Home Run to Estrada while earning his 15th save tonight--Our Bullpen has allowed a total of just 3 runs in 21 2/3rd innings. That's impressive.

Especially since The Milwaukee Brewers can flat out hit. What a decent lineup and group of bench players to choose from, for Ned Yost. Someday Our Washington Nationals will be as good--hopefully better.

Screech Has BEEN NAMED AN ALL-STAR!! Yes, that's right, My BEST FRIEND has been invited to San Francisco--along with many other Team Mascots to participate in The 2007 All Star Game. The African Queen and I were quite proud to hear this news. Over the past few seasons--Screech has developed a fine personality and is enjoyed by many at RFK Stadium. Tonight he lounged with Sohna before the start of the game--in celebration.

Tonight was Diamond Club Night for The African Queen and I. We were invited by friends--although we decided to sit in Our Customary Seats in Section 320. What we like about Diamond Club is the opportunity to watch Batting Practice and The Players warming up in the outfield from a unique perspective. The Food's OK--but nothing overly special. We imagine that in New Nationals Park--Diamond Club will get a seriously needed UPGRADE in Style.

Finally--Tonight's Presidents Race was one FOR THE AGES. As the gates opened down the right field line that fellow dressed as a Hot Dog from earlier this week came running out and down the warning track toward home plate--jumping up and kicking his heels. Eventually, The Presidents galloped out. Thomas Jefferson eventually caught up with The Hot Dog--tripped it up--then both WENT DOWN IN A GREAT THUD!! Everyone watching, into the moment. Then, as TJ began to get up, stumbling--Abe Lincoln came by and continued to BEAT ON The Hot Dog. Eventually he moved on--only to see "TEDDY" reach down--pick up The Hot Dog (TR probably thought he could eat this thing), then began to run toward the Finish Line holding up The Hot Dog. Only to see "TEDDY" and The Hot Dog FALL DOWN IN A HUGE HEAP--THE HOT DOG PILE DRIVEN into the unforgiving Warning Track. The Crowd on its feet in great appreciation. All the while, George Washington easily trotted in first for the Victory.

This was--BY FAR--The Funniest Presidents Race to date. Not sure if all the falls were planned. But, who cares--they added a tremendous amount of spice to the action. Not a sole watching could turn away from this affair this evening. Just a TERRIFIC PERFORMANCE!!

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

PS--By the way, for those who cared so much yesterday-- Our Washington Nationals--cumulatively, left 19 runners in scoring position--that's counting same runners left on base by multiple hitters. You can take it whatever way you want.


Anonymous said...

Spread the knowledge - Learn and Live

Jim H said...


I like it. :)

MickMcD said...


I Hate to Break Your Heart, but SCREECH, Mascot of Our Washington Nationals, was not really named an all-star. He was invited TO THE ALLSTAR GAME much like the Other Mascots From the Major Leagues. He is No More an All-Star than, say, the Ushers working the game Tuesday Night at AT&T Park. While I respect your relationship with Screech, you should understand that the all-stars are named by the Manager of the team along with Our Commissioner Bud Selig, and that mascots are used only to be a part of the SPECTACLE that is the all-star game.

Gooooooooooooooooo Nats

Screech's Best Friend said...

mickmcd: Its all about having fun--Screech attending the All Star Game was written in a satirical form. Sorry you did not understand. I am fully aware of the ENTIRE PROCESS surrounding the All Star Game and why Screech is going with the others. Sometimes, I write things for humor.

Your comment actually broke me up laughing. Thank You for your humor.

MickMcD said...


My apologies. That is my mistake, I apologize for not grasping The Tone of Your Post. Keep up the GOOD WORK.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised you didn't mention the epic duel between Jon Rauch and Geoff Jenkins in the 8th. 13 pitches -- 8 foul balls -- before Rauch put Jenkins away with the swinging strikeout. Then after a Miller single, Wookiee blew away Tony Gwynn on four pitches.

abby's dad said...

Watching Screech cross himself before the top of the 9th was foreshadowing at its best.

Cordero is the most exciting 3 outs in baseball!

Screech's Best Friend said...

Simon: I did remember that great At-Bat, I was just too tired at the time, thanks for reminding me. It was an Excellent At-Bat. It was also interesting to witness at that time some Nats Top Management walk down from their offices, and sit directly in front of our section. They were hanging on every pitch. Which to me- shows that some really enjoy the game and excitement that drama brings. A Good Sign.

And Mike--I should have used that Cross The Heart with Screech. Too little sleep. Just a great side moment to the game though. Thanks as always.

Last night is the perfect reason why you see me write The African Queen forced me to get some sleep. She knows I will stay up all night to complete the gamer.