Tuesday, June 10, 2008

In A Nutshell

Sorry for the very late post. 4AM Call At Work meant little rest after getting home around Midnight.
Down 3-1 in the bottom of the 6th inning--Jesus Flores stood at the plate for Our Washington Nationals. "The Guz" was standing on third base and Dmitri Young on first base. Big Burly Matt Cain stood on the mound for The San Francisco Giants. There were two outs. The very last time Cain pitched in Washington, DC--he also went deep into a game under HOT & HUMID conditions. Tonight--a repeat performance was in the making. Summer sweltering heat and San Francisco's Number 18 seem to be a perfect match.

As Our Number 3 stepped into the batters box--a glimmer of hope shined throughout New Nationals Park. Those in the stands fanning themselves in hopes of cooling their bodies--again began to take notice of the action on the field. The go-ahead run was represented in Flores. Opportunity was opening. But when Jesus quickly got himself down 0-2 on Cain's first two pitches of this At-Bat--that optimism which had briefly come alive on South Capitol Street--faded. Few believing Our Starting Catcher could come back from such a deficit.

Yet, he did.

Matt Cain followed up his two strike lead with two waste pitches--in an attempt to retire Flores and Our Side. Those tosses just off the plate, but too close for comfort not to swing at. Jesus Flores fouled both of those offerings away. Still down 0-2, Cain decided to go with hard stuff--The Heater--to close this inning out. How appropriate he was tossing 95 MPH Fastballs with a Game Time Temperature of 92 Degrees in the 6th inning. That boy can HUM THE BALL. Fortunately for Jesus--both blazers were off the plate. Our Number 3 now standing even at 2 & 2 in the count. The one time excited crowd now realizing change was at hand--again. And when Jesus Flores fouled off THREE MORE consecutive pitches from Matt Cain--something special was brewing. 9 pitches into this crucial At-Bat--the battle joined was still even. Neither Their Number 18 or Our Number 3 held an advantage.

And what were the odds after Cain threw a 78 MPH changeup in the dirt for ball three--not a sole watching at New Nationals Park didn't believe Our Washington Nationals Catcher was going to prevail. The Count now--unexpectedly full. With two outs, even Dmitri Young would be moving from first base on the next pitch. A sight that did occur when Our Number 21 took off for second base on Matt's 11 pitch of this At-Bat. Another off speed pitch which Jesus fouled off--once again.

Returning to first--Young certainly could hear the audible groans from those on hand at New Nationals Park. The Washington Faithful wanted to see results. They were now hanging on every pitch--responding in kind. Jesus Flores, having hung tough through 11 pitches--was now looking to respond on his own. Surely, Matt Cain would lay something in--right over the plate?

At least that's what Jesus believed.

Savvy for a 24 Year Old and knowing one base was still free--The Giants Number 18 looked in to his catcher Bengie Molina for the sign. He wanted to deliver a pitch Jesus Flores was least expecting. Reaching back and looking for the knockout blow--Cain threw an off speed pitch--well off the plate. Jesus--looking for fastball only--could not hold back his swing on the 12th and final pitch of this encounter.

Halfway through his cut--Flores knew he had been defeated. A disappointed home crowd slumping back into their warm seats. As Home Plate Umpire Charlie Reliford rung up Strike Three, Our Number 3 stood--momentarily in the batters box--pondering what could have been. Matt Cain--head up and standing straight up--walked off the field--showing no emotion. A lesson had been taught. A craft where Their Number 18 had gotten the better of Our Number 3.

As fine of an At-Bat as it was--Jesus Flores had been schooled on hitting in the clutch. In a nutshell--this one plate appearance said it all for Our Washington Nationals this evening. Unable to plate runners in scoring position--whether their hitters had good swings, or not.

Final Score from Sweaty New Nationals Park. The San Francisco Giants 3 and Our Washington Nationals 2. A Sweep at the hands of The Boys By The Bay. The conclusion of a 1-6 Home Stand--losers of 8 out of 9 games.

Game Notes & Highlights

He didn't go deep into the game--but Tyler Clippard is a competitor. Constantly chiding himself and encouraging himself on the mound--he was very emotionally involved in the game. When he struck out Matt Cain in the bottom of the second inning on a full count--Our Number 19 was talking to himself all the way to the home dugout. Kory Casto trotting by patting him on his back. Tyler Clippard had a beautiful change up last night which had San Francisco Batters confused. Six Strikeouts in 4.1 innings--before he lost steam in the heat. And you had to love his leg kick. At the apex of his forward motion--Clippard's left ankle swings out and turns over in mid-air. Odd and apparently effective for him. Interesting.

Matt Cain is a horse. Getting into the 7th inning, he threw 107 pitches--78 for strikes. Compare that to Clippard who threw 98 pitches in two less innings of work. I like that Matt Cain.

Washington got two runners on in the first--both Elijah Dukes and Lastings Milledge were thrown out stealing.

Washington got two runners on in the third--and did not score.

Two more runners on in the sixth when Flores had his nice plate appearance--to no avail.

Washington had FLop on third (after a double) and Wily Mo Pena (single) on first with one out. And did not score when Aaron Boone hit into an inning ending double play in the 7th.

Finally--three walks and a single plated one run in the 8th--but with the bases load--Felipe Lopez ripped a liner to right--but right at San Francisco rightfielder Randy Winn.

Our Washington Nationals continuing to have trouble scoring runs. The lineup is just not working right now. Do we ever miss Ryan Zimmerman and Nick Johnson.

When Lastings Milledge blasted a shot off Cain to the top of the right field wall scoreboard in the bottom of the 4th--ruled a double. Why did Our Manager Manny Acta NOT come out to argue the call--until AFTER the inning had ended? Milledge eventually scored--but whether or not the call was correct--it was close enough to question--RIGHT AWAY.

Leading off the bottom of the 8th--Cristian Guzman RIPPED a liner down the right field line--a sure double off of Tyler Walker. Only to see The Giants Rich Aurila snare the ball in an instinct only catch. The Defensive Play of This Game.

Monday was Make Up Night for "Get Your Green On"--the promotion for Discovery Channels new Planet Green. No where near as many folks sporting the green color as where last Wednesday Night for the eventual rain out game versus The St. Louis Cardinals. Sohna and I couldn't believe the number of folks asking what the Green Caps worn by Our Washington Nationals was all about. Not knowing about the event beforehand is understandable--but with all the In Stadium promos constantly being mentioned and shown--it's like does anyone pay attention anymore?

And finally--Tom won The Presidents Race after Abe let his three racing buddies get a good lead before turning up his speed. Waiting too long before running from the Centerfield Gate--Abe was defeated--but just barely.

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


Unknown said...

I loved being subjected to a game-long commercial for a television network masquerading as liberal propaganda. I wonder how open the Nats would be to a similar promotion if Fox News approached the Nats wanting to have "Fair and Balanced Night," complete with commercials on the HD all game long and Clint pimping the promotion with "Random Acts of Rightwingedness" after every half-inning. Oh, and the players would all wear special American-flag-themed hats for the night.

Unknown said...

It was great to finally meet you both.Thanks for all the information and commentary you provide. The only reason I knew to wear green last night was because I had read about eco-night part deux in your blog. Sohna, I hope to see you for Baseball 101 at the end of the month.

Chuck B. said...


Well said and I couldn't agree more.

I would suggest that during "Fair and Balanced Night", "God Bless America" be sung after every half inning. That would drive the Far Left nutjobs crazy.

Anonymous said...

It is shameful that the Nationals have so many Latin players on their team. Just another example of big business being forced to go to cheap overseas labor because domestic laws prevent American employees from being profitable. Maybe they should name the team the Internationals.

Anonymous said...

Anything for a paying sponsor, right? Where they should draw the line -- and I'm surprised MLB let them get away with this -- is extending it to the players' uniforms. That one really surprised me.

Anonymous said...

Whatever the political/environmental leanings of the new network, it's just weird that the Nationals gave an entire game in honor of a TV network. Because, although the theme was "green", we're really just talking about promoting a new TV network. A few years ago, one of the Spiderman movies was about to use MLB to promote their movie, but it was cancelled beforehand after complaints were made.

I wonder if the Braves ever had a Cartoon Network night, complete with players in Hanna-Barbara garb, when they were owned by TimeWarner? Shoot, maybe they could have worn CNN hats.

Actually, I recall the Braves trying something like this in the 70's. I found this at baseball-almanac.com/yearly/yr1976n.shtml:

"Media tycoon Ted Turner, owner of the Atlanta Braves and their broadcasting station, took advertising to new highs (and lows) after signing Andy Messersmith for the 1976 season. First he chose to "nickname" their newest acquisition "Channel" then he issued him the number "17" which also happened to be Turner's TV number. The preplanned marketing scheme resulted in Messersmith taking the field with "Channel 17" on his back. National League president, Chub Feeney quickly caught onto Turner and put an end to the tacky campaign."

Anonymous said...

I'm sure the Nats would welcome the chance to take money from a variety of viewpoints. We're already subjected to Exxon/Mobil commercials every game. Two years ago Fox News banners hung from the outfield wall at RFK.

Nice of Chuck to equate those promoting the green channel to "Far Left nutjobs." Hard as it might be for him to understand, but you can love America and care about the environment. The two aren't mutually exclusive.

Chuck B. said...


Nothing wrong with taking care of the environment but, this doom and gloom stuff that environmentalists, who are mainly on the far left fringe, blather on about is ridiculous.

Al Gore used it to make a buck, period. There is no sceintific evidence to any of it. The Kool Aid drinkers swilled it like a thirsty man in the desert though.

SenatorNat said...

There is an old joke about a man and a woman at a bar which ends "What do you think I am, a prostitute?!" To which the man responds: "Madam, we have already established what you are - we are now negotiating a fair price..."

Nationals as a losing team are really 38-27, since perpetually losing teams count one-run losses like last night as "almost wins." "If only, this, that or the other" then we would have won all 13 of the one-run games we have lost, by my calculations. Of course, it is akin to the 19th Hole discussions in golf - we don't discuss the putts that ringed and dropped, only the ones just left of the cup. (So, we do not discount in any way the 10 one-run victories as a counterweight.)

Jose Guillen beats Yanks for Royals with walk-off homer - the AL version of the Nats - singed as free agent by KC in off-season for $6 million. It was Guillen's 11th HR of the season, fourth in 3 games - he went 9-16 in the four game series with 10 RBI's...
And speaking of Guillen, White Sox complete sweep of 7-game homestand and open 6.5 game lead in AL Central because: "I don't thjink we had a choice, Ozzie said so." CF Nick Swisher commenting on Manager Ozzie Guillen's rant and the turn-around in their performance...

I do not fault Bow-Bow for not signing Jose Guillen back at $6 million for 2008; nor do I fault Manager Manny Acta for not have private much less public hot-headed tirades about the team's lackluster play.

BUT - I would have liked to have seen some effort to sign someone like Giants CF Aaron Rowand in the off-season - and Manny being Manny (Acta that is) is a bit too complacent for my tastes.

Trust in the Tabasco to liven up even a bland meal. All Good.

Anonymous said...

Dear k and Chuck,

As one who bleeds red, white, and blue and is definitely a political conservative, I take some offense to your assertions. Many of us care about the environment, too. Thus, I did not see anything "political" about green night. It was a nice thing - - save for those ugly green ballcaps.

Anonymous said...

Do I live in Mudville?
Did Casey just strike out?
Yes, again there is no joy in Mudville tonight!

Excellent piece of prose.
You should write at 4 am more often.

Anonymous said...


Funny, I didn't take all those people handing out stuff last night as coming from the gloom and doom brigade. Most of the people I know that care deeply about the environment are happy, normal, well-adjusted people.

Your assertion that there is no scientific evidence of global climate change is simply false.

Chuck B. said...

Chin Music,

My apologies if I offended you.

You are a rarity though, I would hope that you could admit that, at least. I would also hope that you wouldn't buy into the scare tactic that Manhattan will soon be under water because the icebergs are melting.

Chuck B. said...


You are flat out wrong.

Fact: There more Scientist's that have the opinion that Global Warming simply can not be proven than those who say it can.

The mainstream Liberal Media won't tell you that though.

Screech's Best Friend said...

Tom: Thanks. The African Queen appreciates your understanding of the effort.

Keith said...

Wow. GREAT capture of an amazing at-bat. That, along with at the single from the rookie Clippard were - to me - worth the price of admission. Yeah, a win is always good for a quick buzz, but those two events are where baseball gets its mojo.
As to owners whoring out the product; well that's not exactly new, and it's not what this post was about.

Anonymous said...

Did she write it under an assumed name? Is she really the writer and you are just the cameraman?

It's time to come clean.

Screech's Best Friend said...

Keith: Thanks for the understanding of what's important sometimes. Clippard hustled all the way on his infield single. He is a competitor. I like that. And many fail to realize one moment in a game can determine the outcome. If Flores comes thorough, not only do Our Washington Nationals probably win, but Jesus GROWS UP as a Major League Player. Something he well learned yesterday to improve on later. Thank you for the kind comments.

Tom: No, I wrote the post. But, The African Queen edits my grammar (My Yoda Speak)--which so many love to blister me on. (smiling while writing that). You are too cool.