Saturday, May 16, 2009

Billowing Clouds

Ray Knight, sitting directly in front of us, threw up his arms in dismay. The African Queen and I stunned. That New Nats Killer--Raul Ibanez--had just hammered out another home run at Nationals Park. His second of just this game. A three run shot on a 88MPH Fastball off the lefty arm of Scott Olsen that put The Philadelphia Phillies up 5-1 . One of those 1-2 behind in the count fastball pitches?

Right over the middle of the plate?

"What wrong with him?" I said to Knight. Ray looks back: "I don't know, but something is not right."

Sohna and I were visiting The MASN Suite at Nationals Park thanks to an invitation by MASN's Todd Webster. Todd had invited a group of bloggers that cover Our Washington Nationals to the game. A full afternoon of meet and greets with all of MASN's On-Air Personalities and some behind the scenes folks.

An interesting time that was the calm surrounding the whirlwind developments on the field of play. Thanks to an April 15th Rainout in DC against Philadelphia--a Day-Night Doubleheader was in the works. And Game 1 was bursting open another sore wound.

Olsen looked awful on the mound, his pitch speeds dropping dramatically as this game wore on. And as it turned out, Our Number 19 didn't admit to Our Manager Manny Acta--until after he was taken out this afternoon--that his left throwing shoulder was hurting. A held-in outcry for relief that sent yet another disturbance reverberating throughout Our Washington Nationals Team. For five innings Scott got pounded by The Defending Champions. And with Washington's Bullpen already overworked and depleted--Manny stuck with Olsen--hoping to save his relievers. No such luck. Hassles turning to strife when The Phillies took Scott deep three times, twice by Ibanez, once by Jason Werth. Bad pitching that sent Scott Olsen to the showers early. And directly to the Disabled List after the game. Gone for at least 15 days after taking a cortisone shot and told to rest for five more days.

A squall that didn't go away after this first game. The billowing clouds continuing to build for the second affair. Eventually developing into a full fledged rainstorm that didn't stop until Our Washington Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies were literally washed off the field of play. Trailing 7-5 in the top of the 6th, with Philadelphia batting, the bases loaded and Ryan Howard at the plate-- A thick downpour ensued. Thunderclaps and strong winds indicating that even The Baseball Gods had seen enough. No more play today.

Because in this Game Two--Daniel Cabrera was absolutely hammered. He didn't give Washington much of a chance to win. A performance that was even more painful to watch than his last time out. A fifth inning pitched by Cabrera that was remarkable for what he didn't get done--allowing three walks, one single, two doubles, one home run and four runs total. Daniel showed no command on most every pitch and no confidence at all. None. The inability to find the strike zone. And when he gave up Ibanez' third homer of this day--the slumping shoulders on the bodies of our field players standing behind Daniel said it all. No matter how hard they try at the plate, right now--on certain days--Washington has no chance of winning. Ryan Zimmerman standing just off 3rd Base slowly grading his metal cleats into the infield clay--head down--while Raul trotted past him in the top of the 5th inning of Game Two. The Z-Man full well knowing he had no control over the outcome when baseball after baseball flies over the fence or off the wall. Or opposing runners walk around the bases--freely--thanks to Washington's very own pitchers being unable to find home plate.

It didn't matter today that Ryan Zimmerman and Josh Willingham both homered in Game One.

It didn't matter today that Washington produced another fine comeback in Game Two--including a key two run double down the right field line by Willie Harris--scoring The Z-Man and Willingham in the bottom of the 5th. Followed by a terrific hustling triple to right center by Ronnie Belliard to get Washington back within two runs. Three runs scored in the bottom of the 5th of Game Two.

It didn't matter because when that last storm started brewing this evening over Nationals Park, the final disturbance was more than just The Phillies bats stirring their latest tempest. This cloudburst seemingly wishing to wipe the slate clean, freshen up what had already been a bad day of baseball in The Nation's Capital by the home side. The overcast skies even darkening the mood of Our Manager Manny Acta. In the post game press conference--Manny seeing no reason to continue this affair tonight.

He just wanted to move on.

Final Scores from Nationals Park were it appeared Washington had little chance to win this day--The Philadelphia Phillies 8 and Our Washington Nationals 5 in Game One. And The Philadelphia Phillies 7 and Our Washington Nationals 5--over five plus innings--in a rain shortened Game Two. Three straight losses for Washington at home. Defeats that are not only hurting, but even more worrisome as our pitching is not giving The Home Side--legitimate chances to win.

Will it ever stop pouring during a Nationals Home Games in 2009? Or will those dark billowing clouds continuing to build over Nationals Park be a constant reminder of a greater storm approaching. One that threatens to derail the new championship campaign of Our Washington Nationals well before the heat and humidity of Summer takes it's debilitating toll.

Rain, Rain--Please Go Away. Let Our Washington Nationals play a fresh new game this coming day.

Game Notes & Highlights

In five innings of Game One Scott Olsen gave up 9 hits, 2 walks and was charged with 5 of his six runs allowed. Heading to the Disabled List with a 1-4 record and ERA of 7.24. Ross Detwiler, 2007 Number 1 Draft Pick to be recalled to pitched on Monday at Nationals Park against The Pittsburgh Pirates.

In five innings of Game Two Daniel Cabrera allowed 8 hits, 4 walks, 7 earned runs and, oh yeah, one more wild pitch. Cabrera now 0-5 for the season sporting a poor 5.95 ERA.

Of course what would be ANY PHILLIES/NATS Game in 2009 without Ibanez blasting out a home run? For the third time today--Raul flat out scorched yet another homer in the 5th inning of Game Two. Inbanez's 6th Homer of this season in 8 games played against Washington. That's right 6th HOME RUNS IN 8 Games. Incredible. That man's ON FIRE. Pretty much hot like Ryan Howard always is. Again today, The Former National League MVP taking Cabrera deep to dead center in the second inning for a two run shot of his very own.

Despite his Consecutive Games Hitting Streak ending at 30 in San Francisco the other day, Ryan Zimmerman has now reached base via hit, walk or Hit By Pitch in 34 Consecutive Games. His 9th Home Run of 2009 in Game One was stroked the opposite way to right center off Brett Myers. Josh Willingham swinging a very fine bat of late. Over his last 32 At-Bats, 10 hits, 3 doubles, five home runs, 8 rbi, 7 runs scored and a nifty .321 batting average. The man's a player and is rightfully earning his playing time.

15 Bloggers posted up for MASN Blogger Day at Nationals Park. Everyone met around 12 Noon at The Media/Suites Gate off South Capitol Street. From there, everyone headed upstairs to the 7th floor television broadcast booth where TV Broadcasters Bob Carpenter and Rob Dibble greeted and chatted with everyone for about 15 minutes. Carpenter and Dibble saying their work facility at Nationals Park is the best in the business. Soft lights and a large work space allows for comfortable stand up positions and ease in performing their jobs. Both telling a funny story about their recent west coast trip where one visiting broadcast booth was so small, cramped and brightly lit that Dibble's sportcoat actually caught on fire--thanks to the heat and proximity of the studio lights.

From there, the group headed down to MASN's Suite, but on the way past "The Boys of Summer's" Radio Booth, The African Queen and I couldn't resist to step inside and say hello to "The Jack Of All Things". Yeah, Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler were there too--but Jack Hicks!! That's almost better than enjoying a "Come Hungry--Leave Happy" Breakfast from IHOP. $4.99 Right Charlie?

Once inside MASN's Suite on The Jefferson Level at Nationals Park--Todd Webster greeted everyone and thanked them for coming. MASN's Debbi Taylor was there, as well as their Beat Reporter--Pete McElroy. Ben Goessling from The Washington Times, Ray Knight and Johnny Holiday from NatsXtra--even Chartese Burnett and Lisa Pagano from The Communications Department of Our Washington Nationals.

Later--in two shifts--groups ended down into the lower bowels of Nationals Park to head inside MASN's HD Production Truck during the game.

Among those on hand in MASN's Suite:

Mike Harris from Nationals Fan Boy Looser & Chris Needham from Capitol Punishment/NBC Washington

Chris from Nationals Inquirer & Ed from Federal Baseball

Stephanie & Kristen from We've Got Heart

Miss Chatter among The Guys.

Todd Webster, Chris Needham & Brian Oliver (Nationals Farm Authority)

Game Two this afternoon was also the make up game for The Jackie Robinson Tribute washed out on April 15th. Both The Philadelphia Phillies and Our Washington Nationals wore jerseys with Jackie's now retired Number 42. Highlights of his career and commentary from Retired General Collin Powell and Former Georgetown University Basketball Coach John Thompson were played on The HDTV Scoreboard.

The first of two new barbecue offerings has opened at Nationals Park. The Pit at The Red Loft is located on the Scoreboard Walk, near the escalator across from The Kids Zone. $11 for Turkey or Beef Sandwichs. We haven't tried it yet. Also coming soon Teddy's Barbecue--Home of The Roughrider to be located near the centerfield picnic area on the main concourse across from The Kids Zone.

Finally: George took Game 1 of The Presidents Race, even though Teddy used a Segway. Abe took the nightcap when he outraced a "Phillie". A human dressed in a long black wig sporting a Philadelphia Phillies Tee.

InGame Photos--Evan Vucci (AP)
All Other Photos--Nats320--All Rights Reserved


Unknown said...

Is it a rule that to be a male Nats blogger, you have to wear glasses???

Steve Walker said...


Thanks for the updates on the additions and changes to Nats Park. The general consensus, after a year and a quarter: The park is gorgeous, the sightlines as wonderful as any park east of PNC in Pittsburgh (and that includes OPACY!).

Now, we just need a pitching staff worthy of the park! It will not be fixed overnight, but, I'll root for the Nats anyway.