Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Patience & Forethought

Those cheering for The Philadelphia Phillies were on their feet--whooping it up. Our Washington Nationals Rob Mackowiak was down to his final strike. The Potential Final Out of this game. But, the Washington Faithful were not going to let The Phillie Fans take over New Nationals Park. No--not tonight and not in this very closely played affair. Eljiah Dukes was standing on second base after a two out walk and subsequent steal. The Score Now--Philadelphia 1 and Washington 0.

Not wishing to be out shouted in their very own park--the Washington Fans let loose. Just about EVERY SINGLE PERSON remaining among the 28,105 was standing. The New Ballpark on South Capitol Street was ROCKING as The Phillies Brad Lidge set and threw the 7th pitch of this crucial At-Bat. A CALLED BALL THREE!! that raised the tension level inside New Nationals Park a bit higher--especially after Dukes took off again--stealing third base--now finding himself 90 feet from home plate with the tying run.

How quickly this bottom of the 9th inning had changed--all with two outs.

As Phillies Fans attempted to get louder--they were drowned out by Washington's Fans. A thankful occurrence that nearly exploded into hysteria when Mackowiak would battle on and into the 8th and final pitch of this terrific Pinch Hit At-Bat by walking--putting runners on first and third with two outs. The eruption inside New Nationals Park had the Club Level Section--in which we were sitting--ACTUALLY MOVING!! The Concrete Floor below our feet was SWAYING--not the first time we have felt this phenomena this season. But, sort of similar to those jumping seats that so many enjoyed along the third baseline at RFK Stadium.

Our Manager Manny Acta realized this game was now at hand and substituted the speedy Willie Harris to run for the slow moving Mackowiak at first base. Unexpectedly, Our Washington Nationals had fought back into position to tie and even possibly win this game--in a walk off. All thanks to Lidge--the one time Houston Astros Closer given up on and traded over this past winter to Philadelphia--for just this same reason--being inconsistent in the strike zone and losing ballgames late. Brad Lidge was doing just that tonight--despite his terrific start to his 2008 Season. He could not command the strike zone and Our Washington Nationals were slowly chipping away at his mistakes.

The Crowd Noise was now at an all time high for the evening. The Dueling Chants from the fans of the opposing sides--filling New Nationals Park. With Felipe Lopez coming to the plate with runners on 1st and 3rd with two outs--in the bottom of the 9th--Our Washington Nationals found themselves in the position to win. Who didn't think Harris would possibly attempt to steal second and get himself in scoring position. Patience at the plate--was all Washington needed to set up the winning score.

All FLop had to do was take a pitch. A toss to help his team. A throw to find out whether Brad Lidge was losing it and was ultimately going to cost Philadelphia this game.

With great anticipation hanging in the air--Brad Lidge looked in for the sign from his Catcher Carlos Ruiz. Our Number 2 set himself. Willie Harris took his lead--hoping to move to second base. Finally, Lidge set himself and fired--not a 96 MPH Fastball, but an off speed slider--an 86 MPH toss that FLop INCREDIBLY swung at?!!

Like why?

Fooled badly on the pitch by Brad Lidge--Felipe Lopez meekly grounded out to Chase Utley at second base. A rally killing and DEFLATING final out of this game. Not often do you witness--first hand--a complete turnabout of emotions--in a split second.

Just like that--the balloon had busted for Fans of Our Washington Nationals and those Phillie Fans now proudly pumped their fists and chests in jubilation over their fortune. Moments away from losing the slimmest of leads and possibly receiving a loss in the standings--The Philadelphia Phillies had now defeated Our Washington Nationals 1-0 because with the game on the line--Felipe Lopez did not have patience. The forethought to allow Harris to scoot to second base. The tolerance to wait a struggling pitcher out.

Game Number 47 of the 2008 Season was a hard loss to swallow--and not just because of the manner the final out was executed. But, because Jason Bergmann pitched another GREAT GAME TONIGHT--seven innings of shutout ball. Since his return from AAA Columbus--Our Number 57 has yet to allow one single opposing runner to score.
Of course--his counterpart on the mound tonight for The Phillies--was equally OUTSTANDING. Cole Hamels is one mighty impressive southpaw--too.

Game Notes & Highlights

John Lannan this past Sunday, Tim Redding last night and Jason Bergmann this evening. Over 20 innings pitched by these three starters and just one run scored off of them. Not many times that has happened with Our Starters in the three plus years since baseball's return to Washington. Our Starting Pitchers a backbone on this 2008 Version. In fact, until Big Jon Rauch allowed the only scored run tonight in the top of the 9th--Washington Pitchers had thrown 18 consecutive scoreless innings--the most since last July (21 Innings total from July 20-24, 2007)

Swing and a miss; called strike three; WHIFF!!--Cole Hamels was powering his way through Washington's Starting Lineup. 4 hits allowed and two walks--but did he ever Strike Out Our Washington Nationals--a plenty--tonight. 11 times for Hamels and 13 overall this evening--a Washington Batter dejectedly walked back to the home dugout with the bat still on his shoulders--having K'd. Using mostly fastballs and changeups--Hamels fooled Washington's hitters all night long. Cole Hamels--enjoyable to watch pitch--even if he does play for Philadelphia.

The only run of the evening--off "The Wookie"--was the result of a leadoff double by Pedro Feliz down the left field line in the top of the 9th. The game changing hit that eventually plated Feliz's pinch runner--Eric Bruntlett--on a bloop single to center by Pinch Hitter Greg Dobbs--one of the finest pinch hitters in the game. But not before Lastings Milledge, Cristian Guzman and Jesus Flores combined to perform The Defensive Play of This Game.
With two outs and that one Philadelphia run already in--Shane Victorino got a hold of another Rauch pitch and set the baseball flying over Milledge and to the wall in centerfield. Clearly--this smash looked to easily score Dobbs from first base as he was sent home by The Phillies Third Base Coach Steve Smith. As Dobbs rounded third base and head for home--"The Guz" did not even have the heave back into the infield by Milledge in his hand. And looking with the naked eye--it clearly appeared that Our Number 15 had NO CHANCE of throwing out Dobbs. Catching the baseball and turning--Cristian Guzman threw a PERFECT STRIKE to Jesus Flores at home. An on time arrival--that found Our Number 3 tagging Dobbs--and Home Plate Umpire Phil Cuzzi--giving the dramatic OUT CALL--for this final unexpected out of the inning.

What a relay toss by "The GUZ"--which reminded me of a conversation I had with Nationals Radio Broadcaster Charlie Slowes this afternoon at The ESPN ZONE in Washington, DC. On site to attend the Lastings Milledge Q & A hosted by Charlie--we were discussing how valuable Cristian Guzman has been for Our Washington Nationals all season long--maybe our most consistent player and All-Star Candidate for 2008. Charlie saying that last year's freak injury on Guzman's thumb after slamming into a Cleveland runner's helmet at Second Base--may well have benefited him in the long run. Two years ago--Our Number 15 had surgery for a slap tear in his throwing shoulder. An injury that may well have not sent him back on the field for--2007--100% healthy.

Now--Charlie believes--last year's unexpected early ending to Guzman's Season helped his shoulder to return to the strong health we have witnessed all 2008 season long. "The Guz" is making throws from deep in the hole--and even getting the speedy runners--with time to spare. Proof today, Cristian Guzman made a FABULOUS TOSS to Jesus Flores from short left centerfield for The Defensive Play of This Game.

In the top of the 3rd inning--reigning National League MVP--Jimmy Rollins--popped a foul down the 3rd baseline. Ryan Zimmerman ran hard and a long way--but caught the baseball right on the railing near the stands. Another fine defensive gem from--consistently--the best third sacker in the game.

When Big Jon Rauch allowed tonight's game winning run--it was the first score he had allowed in 12 innings of relief appearances.

What is it with Phillie Fans? They RIP their very own players throughout the game. And they RIP!! Washington Players throughout the game. Even Jimmy Rollins was treated like crap by a handful of Philadelphia Fans sitting a couple rows behind us tonight. Then, once their team wins--all seems forgiven--for then--they can RIP!! Our Fans. There is something wrong with some of these folks. Sohna, most of all--doesn't understand their odd ways.

Finally--Sohna and I just cracked up when we saw one our good friends--Usher Supervisor Jimmy--handing out Tee-Shirts to fans as they entered the Centerfield Gate. The Man who always says "WELCOME HOME!!" to The African Queen and I--it's a running joke--was seen actually DOING something tonight--and that's a JOKE TOO. We all had a good laugh. Jimmy is really fun--each and every time we meet up with him at New Nationals Park. We both must have laughed for good five minutes over this picture.

Tonight's InGame Photos--(AP) Lawrence Jackson
All Others Nats320 (All Rights Reserved)


Anonymous said...

I agree. Last night's loss was a tough one.

Two Points:
1) Even though Rauch is only a converted closer, at this point, I still do not understand why managers continue to send out their closers in non-close situations. Time and time again this has backfired. When they brought Rauch into the game in the 9th, I turned to my fiancé and told her that the game was lost. I don't understand it.

2) I couldn't tell on TV, but I sure hope the Nats fans in the ballpark let Flop know how they felt about him not running out his last hit of the game, especially after Utley bobbled the ball! Now, I am not going to try and argue that he would have been safe on the play, but you never know. Maybe, after seeing Lopez flying up the baseline, Utley rushes the play and bobbles the ball again or overthrows Howard. Regardless, Lopez needs to run out that play. I will be very surprised if Lopez is starting at 2nd base. I don't care who you play at 2nd, but he needs to know he did wrong.

Really frustrating loss.

Anonymous said...


As you reported, Guzzie's throw home to nail Dobbs was a thing of beauty, but please don't overlook Jesus Flores' perfect block of the plate, which forclosed Dobbs from having a straight route in and sealed the out.

Totally agree on FLop's lack of patience, especially following the two walks and Dukes' easy steals.

Sam R said...


Speaking of T-shirts I think this T-shirt Tuesday promotion has been great. I do think they need to up the ante; only 10K shirts for a crowd of 28K. That means more than half got nothing. Lexi and I got the last two at the gate we entered.


Anonymous said...

A few Philly fans sat behind us on the Mezz level. Loud, obnoxious, boorish, foul mouthed, and stupid all night long. It got to the point where I could barely stand it. So many Philly fans are just a**h****. It's just who they are.

Anonymous said...

I would not mind seeing FLop benched to start tonight's game. If you can't run it out when you're team is down by one with a man on third and 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th...!?!

His saving grace may be that Belliard is on the DL.

I am looking at the positives. Bergmann of course was fantastic, and while no runs were produced, I took some positive about seeing Pena and Dukes keep innings alive twice at the bottom of the order when they came up with 2 outs. Neither could get in the runs either time, but they got on base. Given how they've been performing, I'll take that as a step in the right direction.

Anonymous said...

Do you find it strange that whenever a middle infielder goes on the DL, Lopez's hustle level drops into a lower gear?

SenatorNat said...

I sat in the Red Loft and studied Lastings Being Lastings from behind all evening: he gets virtually no jump on any ball; and needlessly fell down, with the ball next to his left elbow on the play in which Guz and Flores combined to put out Dobbs. He is Gilbert in a baseball uniform as far as his talking is concerned - handsome, well-spoken, entertaining, and seems simultaneously spooked and overconfident!! Tough to see this guy making it without a full year at Columbus.

FLOP being flop: wow, did that ever kill me to see him offer at that first pitch after Dukes hustled to second and third - passed ball and we are tied up, guy. I am always screaming in those situations: TAKE A PITCH!!

Do we have a manager willing to put the take sign on in those instances?

Manny being Manny (or Joe Gibbs - 21st Century version) - how about a little more tough love for some of these players? Milledge and Lopez need to have their wings clipped a bit; Pena has to sit down if he can not adjust his swing; and Dukes needs to be in the line-up every day, and probably in center. The Dukes Project (BowBow being BowBow) has some real potential in my opinion, and he needs the same chance they are giving Milledge and Pena, for certain...

How about Rutgers throwing 14 scoreless innings - literally cannot improve. And, in the 9th, might have been a good time for Hanrahan, actually, since he seemed confident evening before - Rauch has been terrific, but I concur that this is not a closer situation.

Bergmann being Bergmann. All Great.