Saturday, September 06, 2008

Time To Give Thanks

Joel Hanrahan better thank his lucky charms this evening.

He needs to give thanks for Kelly Johnson's sure to be GAME WINNING BASES LOADED SMASH bouncing over the wall in right centerfield at Turner Field. A Ground Ruled Double that only tied this game with The Atlanta Braves at 5 apiece, instead of giving The Tomahawk Choppers a 6-5 Come From Behind Victory and a sure loss to Hanrahan and Our Washington Nationals.

He better appreciate one terrific fielding play by Cristian Guzman to finally end the bottom of the 9th when "The Guz" charged in and across the 2nd base bag to pick up a chopper and toss out the slow moving Brian McCann for the final out the frame. Even a mediocre runner would normally have been safe. Fortunately, McCann--A Catcher--was not. The Game Winning Run would have scored again.

Our Number 38 better thank Ryan Langerhans for leading off the top of the 10th with a Pinch Hit Home Run off LEFTY throwing Mike Gonzalez. An unusual move by Our Manager Manny Acta that seemed questionable at decision time, but turned out to be pretty shrewed. I don't think Sohna and I had ever seen Our Number 29 smiling so broadly. He hit that ball well in his former Home Park--giving Washington their final lead.

Our Closer better also thank "The Guz" and Ryan Zimmerman for combining to score one more run. Cristian Guzman knocking a triple on a badly played hit to Omar Infante in leftfield and "Z" following with a ground rule double of his own that bounced on the chalk down the right field line and ended up over the wall for an RBI--thanks to Gonzalez not being on top of his game in this decisive 10th frame.

And finally, Joel Hanrahan better give some serious thanks to The Atlanta Braves Manager Bobby Cox for actually going to his bullpen and bringing "MY BOY!!" Jorge Julio into this game to fuel the fire. One Walk, One Hit and Two Wild Pitches later, Our Washington Nationals had scored a third insurance run and even had Charlie & Dave on the radio contemplating the wonders and dramatic failures concerning one Jorge Julio and Our Washington Washington Nationals over the past few seasons.

As Dave Jageler mentioned during Julio's appearance--"He is truly Nuts about The Nationals." Whereupon Charlie Slowes replied: "I think the words need to be reversed--The Nationals MAKE HIM NUTS & CRAZY!" Fittingly, Radio Producer, "The Stinger", Steve Ray took Our Dynamic Duo to commercial break in the middle half of the 10th with the song--"I am crazy about The Nationals!! I am Nuts about The Nats!!" Both Charlie & Dave laughing all the way into the break. Funny, Funny Stuff.

But not so funny for Joel Hanrahan. Yeah, Our Number 38 received The Vulture Win thanks to his teammates fighting back, but Our New Closer needs to throw better pitches in counts when in trouble. Hanrahan had NO REASON to throw Kelly Johnson another slider on the second pitch of this At-Bat. Johnson had already shown he could not catch up with his off speed stuff on the first pitch of this nearly game deciding At-Bat in the bottom of the 9th. Why not throw your heater Joel? Keep Johnson truly off balance. Don't give the hitter a chance to adjust and time your slider. Johnson got the pitch he wanted, not the one you should have thrown.

Better pitch selection should be The Number One Priority for Joel Hanrahan as he continues to grow into his new closer role. Because you can't get lucky every night like Our Number 38 did this evening and Washington certainly is not going pound out 5 Home Runs on a normal night. This offensive explosion was almost wasted and would have left everyone, including Our Fans, with a sour taste tonight. So if this is truly Joel Hanrahan's time to be Our Closer, he better take time to give thanks to his many teammates this evening. They saved him when he blew the save.

Final Score from Turner Field, where sometimes you are more lucky than good--Our Washington Nationals 8 and The Atlanta Braves 5 in 10th Heart Thumping Innings. Curly "W" Number 55 stopped a two game losing streak and featured Washington producing some serious power of their own at the plate. Must be the Hot Humid Air of The South helping to sendoff those five Dingers--two by Elijah Dukes--at the so called Launching Pad.

Game Notes & Highlights

Tim Redding deserved his 11th Win Tonight, blown by Joel Hanrahan in the 9th. Our Number 17 had one of his typical outings. A few hits here, a couple walks there, but stingy on runs allowed. Two Errors by Elijah Dukes on the same play in the bottom of the second set up Atlanta's first two runs. Their only other score came off the bat of Yunell Escobar (SUPERMAN ON THIS NIGHT) in the 4th inning off Redding.

When Escobar dove to his right to catch a drive off the bat of Redding in the top of the 3rd--The P.A. at Turner Field started to play The Superman Theme for what was basically a good but not spectacular catch. Charlie & Dave began a series of comments back and forth: "Faster Than A Speeding Bullet", "Able To Leap Tall Buildings", etc "It's Yunell Escobar!!" And when Steve Ray began to play The Original Superman Theme Song in the background of the broadcast, this conversation became downright hilarious. Charlie stating if you are going listen to them, you better be ready for the humor. Then, they invited listeners to send emails to let them know if those at home were enjoying the broadcast. Within one batter--10 emails had already been sent.

Sohna and I just can't get enough of those guys. Professional with humor that is just off the charts.

Elijah Dukes more than made up for the fielding and throwing error in the bottom of the second, when he connected twice for Solo Home Runs (his 9th & 10 of 2008) and singled home the 8th run of the evening for Washington in the 10th off Jorge Julio. Our Number 34 with four hits total, 3 RBI And 2 Runs Scored.

Willie Harris stroked his 13th homer to right field, just over the wall at Turner Field in the 3rd--at the exact moment Charlie and Dave were questioning Yunell Escobar as Superman. Ironically, when Escobar hit his Homer later in the 4th--The Braves Shortstop was greeted on the radio broadcast with The Superman Theme Song--fittingly so.

And Ryan Zimmerman also unloaded tonight for his 12th Homer. That man is HOT!!--htting the baseball with authority. A no doubter to left in the 3rd inning also, moments after Harris had connected. Zimmerman and Guzman with two hits apiece. "The Guz's" Triple in the 10th proving once again that no one for Our Washington Nationals runs the bases as well as Cristian Guzman. Our Number 15 cuts corners and scoots around the bases like no other. He is a very good base runner--and slides well too.

Finally, Washington scored their 5th run of the evening in the 7th when Emilio Bonifacio laced a hard grounder off of Chipper Jones glove at third base. As the ball dribbled to the outfield grass, slightly toward the line--Bonifacio used all his speed to hustle all the way to 2nd base. Our Number 7 would advance to third on a Wil Nieves sacrifice bunt and score when Anderson Hernandez blooped in a single--pinch hitting for Tim Redding. A 5-3 lead that seemed the difference maker, until Hanrahan's poor outing in the 9th.

PS--Flipping around DirecTV to the other Major League Games tonight, the sight of Alfonso Soriano getting a STANDING OVATION from a partisan Cubs Crowd in Cincinnati was quite remarkable to watch. After powering out his 3rd homer of the game, Our Former Number 12 trotted out to leftfield at The Great American Ballpark for the bottom of the 6th inning and you would have believed The Cubbies were playing at Wrigley Field. Both Chicago's Comcast Sports Net and Cincinnati's Fox Sports Broadcasts BOTH SHOWED THE ADULATION. Reds Broadcaster George Grande said he hadn't seen anything like that for a visiting player to Cincinnati in recent memory. What a sight. Alfonso truly living in the moment. His smile as wide as the nearby Ohio River.

Tonight's InGame Photos--(AP) Gregory Smith
Alfonso Soriano Cincinnati Photo--(AP) Al Behrman


Anonymous said...

No thanks needed. As Don Sutton pointed out, all of the veteran closers had games like this when they were young. Joel will return the favor to the Nats tenfold over his long and healthy career as our closer.

As for tonight, no harm, no foul. I'm excited about all the potentional we saw tonight in so many of our guys. Five homeruns, that's insane!

Go Nats!

Anonymous said...

My friend Doc Walker has some of the greatest lines. Coulda-shoulda-woulda- we all shoulda been born to rich parents!

Shoulda! Our starting pitchers usually deserve a better ending than what has shown up on their W/L ledger. Tim Redding is now still 1 win away from his 11th victory which woulda set a career high for him.

Coulda! Joel Hanrahan learned an important lesson on that 0-2 pitch in so much as his 3rd pitch should have been something slightly out of the strike zone that Francoeur hopefully would have swung at and missed or connected with something weakly that could be turned into an out. Joel's breakers were working so well that he thought he would get him out on "his" pitch.

Woulda! On the bright side an exciting win and lot's of positives with 2 ex-Braves had big HRs for us in Willie "Mays" Harris and Ryan Langerhans.

Speaking of HRs---E.D. WOW and Zim.

Hustle, hustle, hustle. Bonifacio went hitless, but his impact is felt sometimes with the intangibles. He plays into heads of all fielders that they must get on his grounders quickly as he will beat some routine grounders out causing Chipper Jones to boot a routine grounder which turned into EB legging the E5 into a 2 base E!!! Wow. Then our EB showed his range and quickness at 2nd base getting to balls that our previous 2nd baseman woulda not have tried to reach.

8 more wins to stay in double digits L's and just imagine what it coulda been with a healthy cohesive team all season!

Anonymous said...

Re: "Heart Attack Hanrahan" -- he obviously understood that the ground rule double kept the game going, and said as much. I'd guess he also understood that the loss on a regular double would have been on him.

I also wondered about his pitch selection, why we didn't see more of his fastball. But I thought it was a good sign that with the save blown, the game tied and the bases intentionally loaded behind him, Joel didn't panic, lose his command and walk in the game winning run. Ball one to McCann had me worried, but the two next pitches were strikes.