Friday, May 08, 2009

Notes From Last Night's Thrilling Victory

Important notes to take from last night's electrifying victory at Dodger Stadium.

Jordan Zimmermann learned that he doesn't have to challenge every single hitter with his 95 MPH Heater. J-Zimm was touched up badly in the first inning for six earned runs (one a direct result of Elijah Dukes and Adam Dunn not calling a routine fly ball). But he didn't give up and for five more inning Jordan more effectively used his off-speed pitches, using his fastball to set up The Dodger Batters. 10 straight hitters retired a one point. Zimmermann did not figure in the final decision, but he may well have figured out how to pitch to quality Major League Batters--who are learning about him. I'll take that as good sign.

Our Washington Nationals can score runs in bunches and fight back from most any deficit. It's just too bad our bullpen has played so poorly. You can't take back any of the losses, but it's reasonable to say Washington could be near .500 if not for the faltering relievers.

Our Bullpen is still killing us. Thankfully, Our Offense appears immune to the relievers plight and keeps plugging away--getting on base, slugging. You gotta like that. 18 hits by Washington last night, 9 from the first four hitters in our lineup--Guzman, Johnson, Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Dunn. Except for Jordan Zimmermann, every other starter had just one hit.

Anderson Hernandez is proving a quality 8th hitter in the batting order--getting on base and scoring runs.

Josh Willingham needs to play more. He proved last night why he is a valuable asset. One home run, one double, two runs scored and an RBI. Josh also made a nice diving catch playing left field.

Nick Johnson is back. NJ looks really good and seems to be getting better and better each passing day. Very proud of a man that can continually fight back from injury, maintain his professionalism and produce on the field--in a very helpful way.

Cristian Guzman made one of the finest plays of his career when he slid to his left on a sharp ground ball off the bat of Xavier Paul in the bottom of the sixth. With Casey Blake running hard from 1st to 2nd, "The Guz"--while still sliding--scooped the ball with his left handed glove, and while still moving past Anderson Hernandez standing on 2nd base, had the wherewithal to backhand flip the baseball directly out of his mitt to Hernandez. Anderson quickly firing a relay toss to Nick Johnson at first base to retire Paul for The Defensive Play of This Game and maybe the best of the year--so far. It was a terrific catch and toss.

And speaking of defense--Washington needs to quit giving away outs. Last night's misplay in the first inning by Elijah Dukes and Adam Dunn of Blake's routine fly was inexcusable. CALL THE BALL!! You can't blame crowd noise or anything else. Our fielders need to take charge of every pop up. Much like Anderson Hernandez who waves his arms violently to let EVERYONE know "I GOT IT!!" Fundamental Baseball Guys.

Finally, The African Queen and I thought Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler on WFED were going to blow fuses if Washington had thrown away the bottom of the 9th inning--leading by four runs heading into the frame. When Charlie mentioned a "Circuit Breaker" no other description was more apt. A Perfect Call. Instead Our Washington Nationals survived their latest ordeal and head to Phoenix with their spirits lifted.

Something that can't be said about The Dodgers. As mentioned previously--I've made my peace with the steroids issues. But it's just shameful that more players feel they can still beat the system. Manny Ramirez has always been enjoyable to watch. We don't feel sorry for Manny today. He gambled and lost and must now pay the price.

Suffering which Bob Melvin must be doing today. Just two years ago National League Manager of The Year, now fired as skipper of The Diamondbacks. In baseball, it's always what have you done for me lately.

InGame Photo--Hector Mota (AP)


NatsGuy said...

As far as the steroids, I believe Jose Canseco should have been listened to. So far he has been dead on right. Maybe he is the only one who has been telling the truth. I believe this whole generation should be ignored by the Hall of Fame (shame). Last nights game was a real roller coaster ride.

SenatorNat said...

The amazing conversion continues from a team which arrived from Montreal with real energy, solid defense, timely hitting, and superb relief staff to the Texas Rangers East:listless; comical defense; hitting, but not always timely (last night excepted, where everything hit went our way); and the worst relief staff in the NL, with the exception of Joe Beimel (and this group includes Houston!). Is there any connection between the fact that Frank Robinson was there and the Nats finally looked like they wanted to win more than give Owen Wilson more fodder for his upcoming comedy? What is the point of having brought in an outfield coach if we cannot get Dukes to control centerfield? In two nights, we have given away at least 3 runs due to his deferral to his counterparts, as Rob Dibble pointed out. This is coaching: Dukes clearly has the range and the talent - he needs the instruction. In two nights in LA, and the suspended game in D.C., the Nats committed a host of "Fielder's Choice's" which had the same effect as errors, compounding a team record for errors which leads the majors. Guz's lack of range in the hole does not help either - I tally 10 errors by Nationals shortstops thus far this year!

The Nationals bullpen is fast becoming the oldest in the majors - guys are arriving like the start of Major League - a movie on HBO at the same time as the game last night, which I repeatedly switched to - making the late evening/early morning viewing quite surreal. Interviews by Debbie Taylor with these codgers should be interesting - they can actually tell her what it was like pitching in the dead ball era...

What in the world is Alex Cintron doing on this roster? He should have been long gone to enable the bullpen to have a Jason Bergmann, for example. At this point, I would release or option Mr. 0-15 pinchhitter to bring Rivera or Bergmann back up. Rivera may still have something left - or are we going to wait 5-6 years and bring him back so his age is consistent with the current group of geysers? Recall that Steve Shell was "fired" so we could get these types off the scrapheap!

Managing, coaching, infield practice, planning, spending, energy, consistency, caring. Frank Robinson was criticized roundly for managing on instincts and emotions and expecting "too much from his players." And, yet, had Guz had that eye surgery in the winter of 2005, he would have taken that ragtag group to the WildCard at least. And, in hindsight, that 2006 Soriano year wasn't halfbad either - at least there was a connection between fans and players.

Manny being Manny is not good enough, unless you are making a sequel to Major League with Owen Wilson - then it is perfect.

Trust in the power of Frank and Frank. And all those gooey arms. (And be thankful that they didn't put up a statue for Robinson...) said...

Re Willingham, isn't it great to have players on the bench who deserve more playing time? It's about time. If that's what it's taken to light a fire under Kearns, than I'll take more of that. He quietly has amassed a higher on-base average than Christian Guzman, a higher slugging percentage than Elijah Dukes, and is the only player on the team to have logged more than 100 innings with no errors.