Saturday, May 02, 2009

Graduate School Begins

There is no embarrassment to being beaten by the three best hitters in The St.Louis Cardinals Lineups. Two of whom are All-Stars. One of which really is The Best Hitter In The Game Today. "The Unofficial Mayor Of NatsTown" (Copyrighted by Charlie Slowes & Dave Jageler) was making his third Major League start tonight at Nationals Park. And he challenged every single hitter he faced.

Jordan Zimmermann didn't back down to Chris Duncan. Our Number 27 went right at Ryan Ludwick. And most importantly, JZ tested Albert Pujols to a duel. My Stuff Against Your Stuff, he stated. Let's see what YOU got? Let's see if I need to experience more?

And on this night, Zimmermann got beat, but Jordan didn't back down.

No question--the batter that puts fear in any opposing pitcher--won tonight. Albert Pujols waited for the 14th pitch from Our Starter this evening and JACKED a 3-1 Fastball so deep and so far over the leftfield wall at Nationals Park, there was the briefest of moments that The Cardinals Star would be the very first batter to EVER reach The Centerfield Plaza during a regular season game on South Capitol Street. The majesty of that ball's flight was spectacular. Yet, that whacked pitch landed five rows short of destiny--dropping in Section 107 of the leftfield stands. A mistake pitch Zimmermann probably was looking to waste. Instead Jordan's control, his nemesis tonight, got the better of him and The Cardinals Number 5 took advantage and flat out walloped that 95MPH Heater over the fence for a first inning home run.

Albert Pujols sending Jordan Zimmermann to The School of Higher Learning. Lessons taught all night long by Teacher Pujols plus the added homework instructed by St. Louis Sluggers Chris Duncan and Ryan Ludwick--when they each took Jordan deep for two run shots of their own in the 4th and 6th innings, respectively.

For 5.2 Innings JZ took his tutelage well. In fact, provided a little schooling of his own. Earning respect from a talented Cardinals Lineup instructed, first hand, that Jordan Zimmermann has a powerful heater, solid curve and one wicked slider. And the moxie to stand in there, take some lumps and still walk off the mound holding his head up high.

Having already earned his Bachelor's Degree, Jordan Zimmermann began graduate school this evening at Nationals Park. The Freshman Experience of facing Albert Pujols. A 9th Year Veteran who swings a baseball bat more squarely and consistently than anyone out there. The multiple degree awarded slugger that doesn't back down himself. Each time Pujols stepped to the plate against JZ, Albert lashed a hit each time. After his first inning blast, The Cardinals First Baseman sliced a liner to right for a double in the 4th on an 0-2 count and eventually ripped a grounder under the glove of Cristian Guzman at shortstop in the 6th for his third hit--single. A Three For Three outing against Young Zimmermann that found Pujols scoring all three times on home runs--trotting home on the heels of Duncan's & Ludwick's blasts to right.

No "The Unofficial Mayor Of NatsTown" didn't win his third start of his Major League Career. Instead, JZ was handed his very first loss. A defeat that was more research. A Term Paper written to judge the quality of his makeup against some of the better hitters in baseball--including that one named Albert Pujols--currently on course to arrive in Cooperstown, New York--The Ultimate Post-Graduate School Of Baseball--when his illustrious career eventually ends one day at The Baseball Hall Of Fame..

No, there is no shame in JZ losing tonight. Our Number 27 took his lessons well and then schooled The National Leagues' Best Team on his deserved merits. Scholarship earned from a 22-Year Old Starter for Our Washington Nationals that continues to show promise--while still earning his advanced degrees on the field of play.

JZ didn't go quietly tonight, although Washington's Bats mostly did against St. Louis Starter Todd Wellemeyer and two relievers. Final score from Nationals Park where the very first crowd above 20,000 (20,697) since Opening Day witnessed quite the fireworks extravaganza--The St. Louis Cardinals 6 and Our Washington Nationals 2. On Bang!! Zoom!! Go The Fireworks!! Friday Night--all runs scoring this evening came on Home Runs. Firepower on display well before the post-game pyrotechnics ever took place.

While Professor Pujols had everyone's rapt attention this evening--teaching his respected brand of baseball--that young scholar named Jordan Zimmermann trained and studied to be more perfect another day. Tuition paid for and earned at hands of The St.Louis Cardinals.

Game Notes & Highlights

Jordan Zimmermann completed his 5.2 innings of work allowing 8 hits, zero walks and striking out 6. Until the moment Our Manager Manny Acta came out to relieve him--he was still working hard, testing batters and not giving in. Zimmermann lost control of three pitches, challenging, not wanting to walk hitters and paid for them dearly. Tenacity, which will pay off for this youngster for years to come. His ERA at the conclusion of this game: 4.24.

Logan Kensing relieved JZ and didn't fare well again tonight--allowing a solo home run to Joe Thurston in the 7th. Pitching under no pressure, both Saul Rivera and Joel Hanrahan each pitched a scoreless inning in mop up roles. Hanrahan throwing nothing but strikes in his 10 pitch inning.

Washington had a big chance to get back into this game. After Willie Harris slammed out a two run homer in the bottom of the 7th to get Washington on the scoreboard at 6-2, Nick Johnson hit a routine pop-up to leftfield in the bottom of the 8th with one out. A sure second out of the inning that miraculously fell safely to the field when Cardinals Leftfielder Skip Shumaker and Shortstop Tyler Greene both thought the other was going to catch the ball. Confusion, which resulted in a Johnson double, followed by a Ryan Zimmerman single to left off the glove of Greene. 1st and 3rd now, two outs with Adam Dunn and Elijah Dukes coming to the plate. With the hard throwing Jason Motte on the mound relieving St.Louis starter Todd Wellemeyer--there was hope for a comeback. Rally Time!! which again fell short when Dunn struck out swinging and Dukes softly flied to center, beat on a Motte off-speed pitch. Washington's final opportunity to win this Friday evening game.

Johnson, Zimmerman and Jesus Flores all had two hits apiece. Ryan Zimmerman's hitting streak now at 20 Games--A Washington Nationals Record added to again tonight. Flores, for the second consecutive night, hit a triple. Amazingly, slamming a Wellemeyer pitch just off the top of the centerfield wall padding in the 7th, that Cardinals Centerfielder Rick Ankiel did not make a good play on--allowing the hustling Flores to slide head first into 3rd for the second consecutive night.

For the third consecutive game, Elijah Dukes committed an inexplicable baserunning blunder. After being picked off first base by righthanded pitchers in each of the past two games, this evening while standing on second base with NOBODY OUT--Dukes attempted to run to third base on a ground ball IN FRONT OF HIM off the bat of Jesus Flores. A routine play for Cardinals shortstop Tyler Greene that found the St.Louis infielder simply scooping the baseball up and tossing to his teammate Joe Thurston manning third base for an easy out. A terrible baserunning mistake. Elijah Dukes was standing on second base with zero outs--already in scoring position. There was no excuse for Dukes to run on that play.

In the bottom of the second inning--Dukes lined a rope into right centerfield off Wellemeyer. Converted pitcher and now centerfielder for St. Louis--Rick Ankiel--came charging in and dove to his left, reaching out with his left handed glove and snared the baseball a split second before it hit the ground for The Defensive Play Of This Game.

The 4th Inning GEICO Presidents Race tonight featured The Rushmores running out of the Centerfield Gate Blindfolded. Teddy, of course ran the wrong way--toward leftfield--while his compatriots bumped, stumbled and fell around the usual race course. Tom eventually winning, when his blindfold slipped and he was able to see his way to the checkered finish line flag.

Friday Night was also Miller Lite Party Nite at The Scoreboard Walk. The $20 Ticket & Beverage Special that is available for every single friday night home game. Before the game began Yolanda and Clint hosted a series of events at the popular bar for fans while taking in the band playing for those in attendance. Screech was also there--attempting to play the musical instruments.

Finally, in 2005 there was the Turkey Hill Ice Cream Cup Shuffle played on the scoreboard in right centerfield at RFK Stadium. In 2006-The Capitol Cadillac Capitol Dome Shuffle. In 2007, The Racing President Card Shuffle. And in 2008 at New Nationals Park--The Mattress Discounters Bed Shuffle. The new entry for 2009 made it's debut during this game--The Hard Times Cafe Shuffle involved following three buckets and determining at the end which one contained a little boy hiding inside.

Tonight's InGame Photos--Pablo Martinez Monisvais (AP)
All Other Photos--Nats320--All Rights Reserved

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