Monday, May 26, 2008

That Freight Train

As That Freight Train known as Dmitri Young pulled past the second station heading toward the third--it was not a question of whether Engine Number 21 was going to arrive safely or not--more of worry--would it RUN OUT OF STEAM!! Dmitri Young was gasping for air--running as hard as his big frame could carry him. Having scorched a liner off the top of the left centerfield wall into The Red Porch Restaurant Area, Young saw 2nd Base Arbitor Paul Emmel rule SAFE--as the baseball ricochet back on the field--away from The Milwaukee Brewers Centerfielder.

The Race Was Now ON!! Two engines of different horsepower looking to make the right move. The Announced Crowd of 28,552 was now on their feet--ROARING--maybe even laughing. Everyone could see this thriller materializing before their eyes. Not is some time--have thousands stood to watch--a train pass. And what a sight to witness. As the very swift and steady Brewers Mike Cameron fired up his engine to quickly run down the rolling baseball--Dmitri was motoring as fast as his caboose could take him. At times--looking like he was moving in slow motion. But This Engine called Dmitri Young was not letting up--huffing and puffing until he rumbled safely into third base--to a STANDING OVATION!!

If Third Base Conductor Tim Tolman had an oxygen tank in his possession--Our Number 21 may well have refueled.

Then--lo and behold--this unexpected detour became only a temporary station stop. After Our Chief Engineer Manny Acta came out to argue the judged ruling on the field--the Track Operators reversed their call--switched tracks if you will--and awarded Young a round trip ticket covering the final 90 feet of track work. This crushed ball HAD CLEARED THE UPPER WALL before bouncing back onto the field.

Our Number 21 celebrating by clasping hands with Conductor Tolman at third--while revving up his wheels once last time--to coast home and be greeted at the final destination stop. All his teammates saying--Welcome Home!! Unless you were cheering for The Milwaukee Brewers--there was not whole lot not to like about what was just witnessed. The Big Red Engine wearing Number 21 had just brought the house down. Most everyone at this Station Stop--rejoicing in the instant.

A Moment In Time To Be Remembered. What a Run!!

But, little did anyone realize this enjoyable moment would be the final real celebration for Our Washington Nationals in this ballgame.

You see, Dmitri Young's blast had only tied the score at three in the bottom of the 8th. While His Freight Train had nearly run out of steam--Young did make it home. A journey his accompanying Freight Cars never accomplished again this afternoon. Running late and behind schedule--Our Washington Nationals and The Milwaukee Brewers motored on--moving side by side--station to station--until the 11th and final destination stop was reached. Here--a crossroad determined the outcome when The Brewers stoked just enough fuel into their fires--to slowly pull ahead. A two out--first pitch--single up the middle by Pinch Hitter Gabe Kapler--which sent that Big Navy Blue Engine known as Prince Fielder past third and on to home--for the Winning Score--The Final Destination--Home Plate.

Our Washington Nationals never able to re-stoke their steam to pull even again. Washington's one final push into The Destination Station--had fallen short--sadly.

Final Score from Beautifully Warm & Comfortable New Nationals Park this Memorial Day Monday--The Milwaukee Brewers 4 and Our Washington Nationals 3.

But make NO MISTAKE ABOUT IT--No one who witnessed it--will EVER FORGET Dmitri Young's romp around the bases. That was not only GREAT THEATRE IN SPORT--BUT A PRICELESS MEMORY TO CHERISH FOREVER. Even a disappointing loss can not sour the taste of that play.

Game Notes & Highlights
Facing a runner in scoring position (2nd base) and the dangerous Prince Fielder stepping to the plate--Our Manager Manny Acta removed Jason Bergmann from the game in the top of the sixth with two outs. To that point--Our Number 57 had completed 19 2/3rd's scoreless innings since his recall from AAA Columbus. Why? You could tell Jason was not happy with the decision. Either, Our Number 14 felt that Fielder would crush Our Number 57--or Manny felt Bergmann had done enough. Either way--Charlie Manning was called upon to retire Fielder on one pitch and Jason went to The Clubhouse sporting a 2-0 advantage and the continued respect of his teammates, his opponents and Our Fans. Striking out 8 and allowing just four hits--Bergmann retired for the day sporting a more healthy 4.50 ERA. Considering that number was well above 11 before his recall--that's progress my friend. Jason Bergmann becoming more and more--the quality middle of the rotation starter--a position many felt he was capable of holding. Good for him.
Cristian Guzman powered out a Ben Sheets Fastball to the Second Level Mezzanine Facade in the bottom of the first inning. A clubbed shot just in front of Section 241 that had New Nationals Park Rocking. "The Guz" now with 5 Home Runs in 2008 alone. Since joining Washington in 2005--Our Number 15 has only hit six total homers before this season. Later in the key bottom of the 5th--Washington had Willie Harris on first and Jesus Flores on second via singles with two outs. "The Guz" hammered a hard hit grounder that appeared to be on its way to the outfield to score the speedy Harris. The Brewers 2nd Baseman Rickie Weeks knocked it down and kept the smash in the infield--saving a run. A Turnabout Play considering what happened later. Harris would have scored Washington's third run of the day at that point--a run that would have nullified Milwaukee's three run rally later. In fact, this game may not have reached extra innings--expect for Rickie Weeks. Our Washington Nationals might have won in regulation. Aaron Boone popped out with the bases loaded in that bottom of the 5th--killing that potential game deciding rally.

Elijah Dukes continued to show promise this afternoon. In the top of the 2nd inning--Prince Fielder HAMMERED a Jason Bergmann pitch over his head in right field and off the wall. The baseball momentarily being trapped between the seam of the electronic Out of Town Wall Board and The Padded Wall. On his caboose--Our Number 34 deftly retrieved the ball off the carom--then threw a toss to Cristian Guzman at second base--a little off the bag--but a good enough strike to retire the Hefty Fielder for The Defensive Play of This Game. Later, in the bottom of the 2nd--Dukes would blister a Ben Sheets high fastball to the left centerfield gap for a clean double. A fine hit immediately followed by Jesus Flores rapping another double down the left field line--scoring Dukes with the second run of the game for Washington. Flores' 10 RBI in 17 Games. A decent number of runs batted in for such limited duty by Our Number 3.

The Brewers fought back from that early 2-0 deficit thanks to some shoddy play by Our Washington Nationals in the 7th. Corey Hart lead off and singled with two strikes off Charlie Manning. Our Number 36 then uncorked a wild pitch--sending Hart to second and setting up this come from behind inning for Milwaukee. After Manning struck out the free swinging Russell Branyan--Our Number 14 removed him from the game and replaced Manning with Brian Sanches. Our New Number 22--effective during his first outing--was not as good this afternoon. Sanches allowed Hart to steal third--by not keeping him close. Then, he walked J.J. Hardy. And made matters worse when Jason Kendall rapped a hard single to left--scoring Hart. Still having the chance to get out of the inning with a lead--Sanches got Milwaukee Pinch Hitter Joe Dillion to hit a grounder--just to the right of Dmitri Young. Our Number 21 could not bend down to pick up the baseball cleanly. Before an unbelieving crowd--the baseball glanced under Young's glove and into right field. One sure out was loss. One sure and unexpected run by The Brewers was scored. Hardy plating the game tying run.

The Brewers would pull ahead on small ball in the 8th. Joel Hanrahan allowed a leadoff walk to Cameron--who immediately stole second base--moved to third on a fly ball by Ryan Braun and scored on a Sacrifice Fly by Fielder. A 3-2 lead short lived--when Young powered out The Moment of The Day in the bottom of the 8th.

Ryan Zimmerman did not play today--sitting out with a sore left shoulder. Manny mentioned in the post game comments that he never considered placing Ryan in a pinch hitting role late this afternoon. Interesting. He needed to rest--according to Our Manager. Also--Our Number 14 mentioned that he CAN NOT send out Saul Rivera, Luis Ayala and Big Jon Rauch everyday. (THANK YOU!!). But was forced to send Rivera out late--when The Brewers ralled against Manning, Sanches and Hanrahan. Reports are that "The Most Thrilling Closer In The Game" is beginning to throw. Estimated return--Mid June--at the earliest. Chad Cordero is needed in Our Bullpen--if healthy.

Sohna and I were surprised by SCREEEECH!! this afternoon. New Nationals Park is more difficult for My Best Friend!!, The NatPack and The Presidents to move around. So Screech has not visited Our Perch in Section 218 often enough in 2008. Today, thankfully he did--and not only meet up with Old Friends--but made some New Ones.

Finally--Memorial Day Monday--At 3pm Eastern Time--Our Washington Nationals recognized The National Moment of Remembrance--like every single person in America was asked to honor this day. The Baseball Game Stopped and everyone was asked to stand--in thanks for all those who have given their lives for the Freedoms we enjoy each and every day in The United States of America. A Video Tribute was played on the HDTV Scoreboard. A nice touch. No--believe it or not--Memorial Day is not about The Pool Opening, Going to The Beach--Or Cooking Out. Sohna and I visited my uncle--buried at Arlington Cemetery over 43 years ago--this morning. He passed away on D-Day--June 6, 1944.

Today's InGame Photos--(AP) Lawrence Jackson
All Other Photos--Nats320 (All rights reserved)


Jim H said...


I could not believe Manny took out Bergmann at that point in the game. He had the game under control and had met each challenge faced. 93 pitches, 62 strikes.

I'm sorry to say Manny, in my opinion, has so overworried about that pitching staff that he overuses it and must be considered "Captain Hook" at this point.

Love the guy...but he's got to start letting some of his pitchers continue to throw when they're in control. No more of this, "I won't let them lose a game they've pitched well in" crap. Let 'em grow up for crying out loud.

Of course the team needs to score more runs. Absolutely. And the bullpen is so overused already, that I don't blame the Saul Riveras who can't throw anymore, due to their arm about to fall off.

Let the starters go deeper. Let them build stamina and learn to pitch. Save the bullpen.

I'm very happy overall with the job Acta does, but he's becoming mroe and more a stereotypical quick hook. I hope he matures through that as well.

Wish I could have been there. Looked like a beautiful day at the Park.


Chris Needham said...

Not just let Bergmann stay in, but what's the deal with taking Rauch out after just nine pitches? And hadn't he just double-switched, so it wasnt like there was an impending pinch-hit decision.

Rauch is the best reliever we've got and he threw 9 pitches and 1 inning? Bizarre.

Anonymous said...

It seemed like Manny had yesterday's Redding outing on the brain. Didn't want another scoreless almost-six inning effort fall apart on his starter. Manny's coddling worked when the Nats had one of the best bullpens in the league, but that seems like an eternity ago..

SBF, though it sure was entertaining to see Dmitri get to third base, I can't agree that it was a highlight-reel memory. By the time we got to that play, The Meat Hook's immobility had already cost the team the lead, and seeing him lumber around the bases put an exclamation point on it for me. In his current shape, he is great to have as a pinch hitter, but I would rather not have him starting at 1B for my team right now.

Chris, I wondered the same thing about Rauch. In fact, I turned to my son as they were walking off the field and said "only nine pitches for Rauch, that means we'll easily get another inning out of him." Confounding.

And what of the decision to bring in Langerhans when there were still actual major league pinch hitters available?

No, this was a rough day at the ball park. They lost this game many times over.

Anonymous said...

After 52 games -- 2007 -- 21-31.
After 52 games -- 2008 -- 22-30.

Anonymous said...

Ray Knight agreed with all of you on Nat Xtra that it is time to push the starters further in the game.

VCUAlum Kyle said...

What a great day at the ballpark. It was hot and lovely! I took my little cousin today and we had a blast.

I agree, Manny has killed his bullpen. Hes got to let the startes go. If the keeps this up we are not going to have a bullpen by the All-Star break.

You got to give Jimbo credit for D. Young last yr and A. Boone this year. He has been a great fill.

A question for the group, Do you guys feel the lines at the concession stand are still very long during the games?

Screech's Best Friend said...

vcualum kyle: I think some of the lines for concessions are still way too long. I walked outside Club Level yesterday to get something from The Nats Dog Stand behind Section 227. Too long--I would have missed an entire inning to get one item. Then, and I forgot to write about this in the post--but I wanted to buy a Helmet Sundae. NO HELMETS. They were offering the sundaes in a litte plastic cup that might be used for a mixed drink. Half the size of the plastic helmet--for the full $5 price. I started laughing and resisted purchasing the sundae.

And--why when the game went to extra innings--virtually no concession stands were open.