Thursday, May 08, 2008

Resetting The Tone

When Willie Harris lashed a homer to right field off Brandon Backe--you had to figure this was going to be Our Washington Nationals Night.

After two straight disappointing losses--Washington played a good tight ball game this evening in Houston.

They didn't make silly mistakes.

They got some timely hits.

They were focused.

They were resetting the tone.

And most importantly, Our Washington Nationals received a fine starting effort from John Lannan. One they did not waste.

Some very fine pitching--in fact.

Twice on the ropes against Houston--John Lannan battled back to retire The Astros while allowing just one run. None better than his effort during the bottom of the sixth. After two straight singles by Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee, Our Number 31 remained in control--getting the young and talented Hunter Pence to hit into a double play grounder. A smoked ball that "The Guz" swiftly fielded moving to his left. A carried direction which found Cristian Guzman touching second base then firing to Nick Johnson at first base for a key double play. A inning-turning play that allowed John Lannan to end this latest threat, just one hitter latter, by getting Ty Wiggington to also ground out to Our Number 15 for the final out.

Earlier in 4th--Miguel Tejada and Berkman singled to start the bottom half. And although Houston would score one run on a infield single by Hunter Pence with one out--Lannan again settled down to retire the next two Astro Hitters to end the threat.

Our Number 31 pitched an excellent game, seven complete innings worth. And his work set the stage for Our Washington Nationals victory to end this short three game road trip. Home Runs from Harris and Rob Mackowiak and a three RBI night from Austin Kearns. Every starter but Ronnie Belliard getting in on the hit parade. All on a night Our Manager Manny Acta did the right thing and sat down the slumping Wily Mo Pena and the exasperating Lastings Milledge. Both Our Numbers 16 & 44 need to get their heads back in the game. Right now--they are not helping in any consistent manner.

Cury "W" Number 15 was a much needed 8-3 win by Our Washington Nationals.

Because it stops a small losing streak.

Stops a string of bad games.

And resets the tone for an important three game match up with The Florida Marlins this Mother's Day Weekend. An opportunity to move ever so closer to the .500 mark.

Game Notes & Highlights

John Lannan continues to show he has moxie. Not the most talented hurler, but the gumption to pitch without fear. You got to like that from a 23 year old.

With Darin Erstad pinch hitting in the bottom of the 7th for Houston--the veteran lefthanded hitter stroked a blooping liner down the left field line off Saul Rivera. An opposite field stroke that found Rob Mackowiak diving face first into the ground--stretching full out to make the catch. A very fine effort that would have been The Defensive Play of This Game--if not for the defensive snare of a liner back to box by The Astros Tim Byrdak. "The Guz" flatout nailed a drive right to Tim's head. Reacting only--Brydak stuck up his glove in self-defense, caught the smashed ball and easily doubled off Aaron Boone, standing well away from the second base bag for a TERRIFIC PLAY!!

What's wrong with Luis Ayala? Is he just overworked? Or hurting? Of late--he has struggled mightily on the mound. Tonight in the 8th, a laborious 34 pitch effort. Our Number 56 giving up two runs on two hits and one walk. As Charlie Slowes mentioned on the radio--"an adventurous outing". Manny--either set him down for a spell or find out if something is wrong--before it's too late.

Rob Mackowiak contributed this evening for one of the first times all season. His two run homer in the 8th, just reached into the Crawford Boxes in left field. Our Number 12 also hitting a single and making that fine defensive play.

Speaking of The Crawford Boxes--they are just silly. When Ronnie Belliard came up in the top of the 6th, he lofted a routine fly ball to left. An easy out in every other park in America. But at Minute Maid Park, nearly a home run. The Short Porch in left does not add to the game--only hinders the outcome. Those Crawford Boxes have got to go, too gimmicky and they reflect badly on the game.

Finally, Charlie & Dave Jageler were lamenting their upcoming late night flight back to Dulles International Airport from Houston after tonight's game. Realizing the late hour of this game, both knew their charter would not get back to DC before 4AM. Charlie's response about driving home from IAD at that early hour: "At least we can wave to all you fans heading off to work driving past us." Very funny.

Tonight's InGame Photo (AP)


Anonymous said...

It also helps to have real major league players in the outfield and a catcher, without a spaghetti arm, behind the plate.

SenatorNat said...

Great comment: Nats are actually a better team with Harris and Mackowiac in the outfield and Nieves behind the plate than with "the future" - Milledge benched, I suspect, for not hustling to catch that last ball Weds night - if so, great.

I had written yesterday that Nats needed to Joe Gibbs the $6 million catching experiment by employing the DL - and they have apparently. Progress in that certainly, since we just cannot endure a season where it is open season for opposing runners to steal not just 2nd, but 3rd, as well.

Attitude matters, too, and Harris and Mackowiac bring a good attitude, along with Boone, to the line-up. Give Bow-Bow his due for formulating the best bench in Nationals nascent history. Now, if he could just work on the starters...

Trust in Jesus - Flores. All Good.

Anonymous said...

I thought that Lastings was conspicuous by his absence last night. I don't recall seeing him on the bench or being part of any post-score congratulations. Was he ill? Regardless, it was nice to see some spirited, competent outfield play for a change.