Sunday, August 03, 2008

Winning Back Fan Support

Sorry for the late post--Sohna and I had some personal things take care of this morning--so I could not write the gamer last night.
The energy tonight inside The New Ballyard on South Capitol Street was intoxicating. New Nationals Park was ROCKING for the first time--in a long time. A new look version of Our Washington Nationals was mesmerizing the home crowd. The excitement at New Nationals Park reminiscent of the high times at The Old Ballyard on East Capitol Street of year's past. 30,970 were in a jovial mood. They had just witnessed Washington fighting back from their largest deficit this long season against The Cincinnati Reds.

Two games into August A New Look Washington Team has taken the field. A battling lineup. A hustling group of players making the effort in the field and at the plate. Far from perfect and with a long way to go to be deemed respectable, the spark provided by newcomers Emilio Bonifacio and Alberto Gonzalez has jumped started Our Washington Nationals. A combined 5 for 10 at the plate scoring three runs this evening. Our New Number's 6 & 12 in your scorecard displaying fine fielding skills, as well. Bonifacio making a spectacular lung, dive, roll, eventual grab on a hard hit grounder to his left, and throw out of The Reds Brandon Phillips late in this game--easily The Defensive Play of This Game.

But those two players were not the only contributors this evening.

This 10-6 come from behind victory was a team effort.

Down 5-2, then 6-2, in the bottom of the sixth to The Cincinnati Reds--Ronnie Belliard got this affair back on track when he absolutely HAMMERED A TWO RUN PINCH HIT HOME RUN off Former Washington National--Bill Bray. A No Doubt Liner over the left field wall that found Our Number 10 strutting, hand slapping and enjoying his trip around the bases and into the home dugout. A turnabout moment that found Our Friend Pat, kind enough to invite The African Queen and I to sit with him tonight in Presidents Club stating: "We are going to win this game."

Yeah, we were. Because the August 2008 Version of Our Washington Nationals shows little resemblance to The July 2008 and earlier versions. Speed, agility, that fighting spirit to not give up displayed over the past two days--exhilarating. The Home Faithful loving every minute. Fans jumping up and down in the aisles, high fiving, hugging and downright whooping it up.

Feeling the pain of the so many losses of late--Our Washington Nationals were winning back their fan support. None more so than in the key bottom of the 7th. A walk to Lastings Milledge leading off the inning, allowed by The Reds Mike Lincoln, led to back to back to back singles by Austin Kearns, Kory Casto (scoring Milledge) and Alberto Gonzalez loading up the bases with Washington now down by one. And Cincinnati Manager Dusty Baker deciding to call on another Former Washington National, Gary Majewski.

"Big Tex" as Gary is known, with the assist from Former Montreal Expos Top Prospect Brandon Phillips--would blow this game wide open--to the assembled masses GREAT DELIGHT.

Pinch Hitter Elijah Dukes would slam a hard hit, but routine possible inning ending double play grounder directly at Phillips. The slick fielding second sacker seeing "Speedy Gonzalez" rushing toward second base directly in front of him--was distracted and bobbled the baseball. The crowd, first moaning the possible end to this Big Washington Threat now stood excited over this change in fortune. Brandon Phillips now had no play at second base. And as it turned out--he had no play at first base too. Our Number 34 hustled all the way down the line and was ruled, JUST SAFE, by First Base Umpire Mike Estabrook.

Austin Kearns scoring the game tying run. The Home Faithful on its feet applauding the efforts. Many on hand now realizing--Yeah, Our Washington Nationals were going to win this ball game. And when Pinch Hitter Pete Orr stood patiently at the plate, waiting for a Majewski pitch to drive--Our Number 4 was rewarded with a lacing liner to left field, scoring Casto with the Go Ahead Run, scoring Gonzalez with an important insurance run. And scoring some serious points for the now SCREAMING CROWD CHEERING ON THIS UNLIKELIEST OF COMEBACKS. An effort, many would say--Our Washington Nationals were incapable of delivering earlier this week. This Game Was Enjoyable--on so many levels. But the sight of so many fans living in the moment--made this night--So Worthwhile.

Milledge would add a NO DOUBT BLAST to the Cincinnati Bullpen in left off Majewski in the eight for his 8th Home Run of 2008. And Austin Kearns would turn a routine single into a three base error when The Reds Jay Bruce misplayed his liner to right. A mistake that found "Bluegrass" trotting home freely on a wild pitch thrown--also by "Big Tex". No this was not a good Homecoming for one of The 2005 Inaugural Season Members of Our Washington Nationals. Looking to impress again, Gary Majewski only faltered--to Washington's benefit.

Final Score from raucous New Nationals Park--Our Washington Nationals 10 and The Cincinnati Reds 6 in one of the most impressive wins of the season. The Bang!! Zoom!! of The Fireworks!! signaling that Fighting Spirit, Fresh Energy goes along way in affecting a teams makeup. Curly "W" Number 40 of 2008 found Our New Look Washington Nationals playing hard, making the effort, not giving up and most importantly--Winning Back Their Fan Support.

August 2nd, 2008 may well be The Most Important Home Date This Season. The Tide is turning--Our Washington Nationals and Their Fans are finally getting onto The Same Page. Nothing better than that.

A GREAT NIGHT AT NEW NATIONALS PARK. That Place Was Hoping--Rightfully so.

Game Notes & Highlights

Jason Bergmann got absolutely tagged by The Reds in the top of the second inning, allowing a two run homer to Jay Bruce and a three run double to Joey Votto--putting Washington down early 5-2. Between innings, MASN showed Our Pitching Coach Randy St.Claire giving our Number 57 the business on the bench. A disconsolate Bergmann listening intently. His words must have worked--as Jason would complete six full innings tonight--although he was not involved with a decision.

Charlie Manning received his first win of his Major League Career. The Pitcher of record in the 7th, when Elijah Dukes pinch hit for him. The game deciding inning that sent the faithful home happy.

Emilio Bonifacio led off the bottom of the first inning with almost a slap bunt swing that lofted a pitch from Josh Fogg just over third base and down the left field line. Our Number 6 so fast--he was nearly on second base STANDING, by the time the ball had hit the ground. Of course--he would score Washington's first run of the night. Later in the 6th--Emilio would lace a liner down the right field line--AND THE RACE WAS ON. His blazing speed had EVERYONE UP ON THEIR FEET ROARING. As The Reds Jay Bruce tracked down the baseball in the corner--Bonifacio whipped around the bases--sliding easily into third with a triple. That was some exciting stuff. Pat stating: "Nothing like speed, changes the game." So true.

Later, in a brief conversation with Our Team President, Stan Kasten mentioned that during batting practice Emilio Bonifacio works on his swinging slap bunt routine displayed in the first inning tonight. It's a part of his offensive arsenal. Impressive that young man has been in two games.

The same for Alberto Gonzalez. You would think he was an All-Star after his first two games. But at least he has shown--Our New Number 12 has the talent to stick around in The Majors. He's got some talent and will be more than just a backup infielder.

Elijah Dukes was pulled from the starting lineup for showing up late at New Nationals Park. Our Manager Manny Acta stated rules are rules and if you don't come on time--you do not start. Later Dukes worried the crowd and Our Team when he pulled up lame running out a grounder to first base in the 8th. As it turned out, Our Number 34 had his bat hit is leg upon leaving the batters box and he cramped. Fortunately, he was OK. You could feel the excitement bubble bursting at New Nationals Park for the briefest of moment--many understanding how ANOTHER INJURY was just not wanted.

"Rookie of The Year" was the movie shown tonight after the game at New Nationals Park. The Saturday Night Movie promotion which will run throughout the remainder of the season after Home Games on South Capitol Street.

Many thanks again to Pat for hosting The African Queen and I tonight. We all had a great watching a wonderful game and sharing baseball--Washington Nationals Style.

Tonight's InGame Photo (AP) Chris Dharapak


Anonymous said...

My sources tell me that the team this week has had additional emphasis on bunting for some selected players. Bunts by Perez on Friday and Saturday with Willie H. were both big plays.

Benching E. Dukes was another good step in the right direction.

Manny seems to be getting his team back........

Other notes, all 3 players that started Saturday night below the Mendoza Line ended up over .200 after their respective at-bats on Saturday raising our team batting average to .243

Jesus Flores has been Mr. Clutch and the team backed up their pitchers with great defense.

Some more late innning power from Belliard certainly rang the Reds bell.

Nice to see some Curly W's!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

What a great weekend to be a Nats fan! I loved the renewed hustle of the team. I loved watching them come back from 6-2 down to win the game! Watching Bonafacio run the bases is similar to watching the Road Runner crank it into high gear when being chased by Wile E. Coyote, just a blur of legs. The balls he nabbed playing second base would surely have been base hits with the lackluster effort of his predecesser. I don't mean to post as anonymous but am still learning about blogging. I am from section 221 but decided to splurge on the Diamond Club for some out of town guests on Saturday night. It is a nice place to visit, great view, but once a season is probably plenty.