Thursday, June 11, 2009

Old Fashioned Hardball

Our Washington Nationals couldn't get the clutch hit.

They couldn't keep any rally alive.

Our Offense was struggling once again.

On yet another day decent starting pitching kept them in the game.

Game 58 of the 2009 Schedule was playing out in a familiar style.

As has been the case over much of the past month--Washington commits an error at an inopportune time, allows a key walk or simply doesn't get the job done. DC's team has played just well enough to lose.

And down 2-1 to The Cincinnati Reds with one out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the 8th inning early this evening at Nationals Park, that same scenario was about to play out. At least until a possible inning ending double play grounder hit by Ryan Zimmerman to Alex Gonzalez at shortstop turned this game around.

Anderson Hernandez was on third base. Cristian Guzman on second. Alberto Gonzalez on first. There was one out.

Ryan Zimmerman at the plate.

For first time all day during this 4:30PM start, the crowd of 19,730 was on it's feet.

Bases Loaded.

Game On The Line.

The Z-Man at the plate.

What more could you want?

Well a lot more when Our Number 11 slapped this grounder to Alex Gonzalez at shortstop on a 3-1 count. The cheers were quickly turning to groins. RallyTime!! was certainly about to end. At least until Alberto Gonzalez decided to take matters into his own hands. As Cincinnati Second Baseman Brandon Phillips took the relay toss from Alex across the bag at second base--Alberto was coming in right on top of Phillips. And during the very moment Phillips pivoted to throw--Our Number 12 slid right into Brandon's legs--forcing Phillips to alter his throw and ultimately his toss well into the dirt--short of his first baseman Adam Rosales.

Just like that--a wild toss had scooted past Rosales, all the way to screen near Washington's Dugout--wildly re-lifting the spirits of the home crowd--not believing what they had just witnessed. The African Queen so excited over the turnaround she actually missed by right hand completely on the High Five!! (It was funny) A key error at the most crucial moment of this game--committed by Cincinnati, not Washington--which sent Anderson Hernandez home and "The Guz" right behind him with the tying and eventual game winning runs.

No it wasn't Our Offense that came alive.

It had nothing to do with a clutch hit.

It was just one gritty performance by Alberto Gonzalez playing good OLD FASHIONED HARDBALL!! His hard slide into Brandon Phillips had forced a mistake. The resultant two run error that gave Washington a much needed 3-2 lead. A come from behind in their last At-Bat Victory that was saved by Joe Beimel pitching a 1-2-3 9th.

Final Score from Nationals Park where for the 10th time in 2009, The Bang!! Zoom!! Of The Fireworks!! were happily heard at game end--Our Washington Nationals 3 and The Cincinnati Red 2 in unexpected style. Curly "W" Number 16 had nothing to do with luck and everything to do with just not giving up. The "Attorney General" didn't score a single run today. And didn't drive in one either. But he, more than anyone on the field today was the catalyst in sending the home crowd away happy this evening from South Capitol Street.

Rough and Tumble Baseball was back on display thanks to Alberto Gonzalez. Never giving up, going in hard, giving his all--Our Number 12 had turned around what appeared to be just another sure loss.

Nothing like watching Old Fashioned Baseball--especially when it adds Another Curly "W" In To The Books.

Game Notes & Highlights

John Lannan wasn't as sharp as his complete game last time out, but he lasted six innings and was hurt by a bad throwing error by Ryan Zimmerman to first base in the 2nd inning that cost John an unearned run. The Z-Man had dove to his right to snare a Adam Rosales smash. But then hurried the throw to Adam Dunn at 1st Base and nearly Air Mailed it into the stands. Alex Gonzalez scoring on the play for The Reds. Lannan allowing five hits and two walks and eventually one earned run as well.

"Mr Enthusiasm" actually got some playing time today in a close game. Sort of on the outside looking in, Julian Tavarez hasn't been called on in pressure situations of late. This evening, Our Number 50 pitched two solid innings of relief. And was rewarded with the victory when Washington rallied in the bottom of the 8th to take the lead.

Joe Beimel picked up his first save of 2009 and Washington's first since May 24th against Baltimore.

Nine hits scattered around Nationals Park by Washington today, no extra base hits. Josh Willingham with two hits and one run scored. Zimmerman smoked two liners--right at Cincinnati outfielders. The second one bringing frustration to Ryan as he flipped his bat in disgust. Adam Dunn continuing his mid-season struggles--getting just one hit. Elijah Dukes with three strikeouts today--showing less patience at the plate and swinging at too many first pitches and pitcher's pitches even while ahead in the count.

In the top of the 6th inning, The Reds Ramon Hernandez slapped a hard grounder to the left of "The Guz". Guzman ranged over and--sort of dove/fell--while fielding the ball, eventually landing on his rear end. Without getting up, Our Number 15 used his arm to power the baseball across the diamond and one-hop toss it to Adam Dunn at 1st Base. The Defensive Play of This Game that was funny and well done--all at the same time.

At times, Cincinnati Lefthander Daniel Ray Herrera has the strangest motion while pitching. Mostly it seemed while throwing his off-speed stuff, Herrera would jerk his head back and his upper body as he uncoiled in his windup. You could see both Anderson Hernandez and Alberto Gonzalez first being surprised by this look during their crucial at-bats against him in the bottom of the 8th. Both eventually solved Herrera and singled--but Daniel Ray looked like a contortionist out on the mound--really strange to witness.

The front circle of the home batters box was heavily watered down today--almost muddy. Not sure if water got under the protective tarp last night or not. But the dampended surface sure look rough.

Finally, Abe came from behind today to win The Presidents Race in the middle of the 4th inning.

Today's InGame Photos--Manuel Balce Ceneta (AP)
All Others Photos--Nats320--All Rights Reserved


SenatorNat said...

14 runners left on base, many in scoring position with less than two outs; Lannan and Guz lay down bunts which enable lead runner to be cut down at third; Z-Man commits 9th error; Dukes over-swings three at-bats, when meeting the ball scores a much needed run; Hernandez stops at third on a run-scoring hit to center - yet, finally, a player exhibits old style fundamental spikes-flying baseball, and we win.

It is no accident that Nats fielding is going to be good overall with three regular outfielders, Gonzalez at second, and Nieves behind the plate. For once, Dunn actally played well at first, too.

Lannan is classy guy and savvy pitcher - relievers are doing O.K. Now comes NL East, though...

Boz writes kind column about poor Manny - wouldn't save him me thinks, but maybe it will.

Trust in the kindness of stangers. All good.

jcd said...

Glad to see you are back posting, I've missed reading your summaries!

Anonymous said...

I realize this comment is not related to your post, and I apologize in advance. However, I have to rant somewhere. When are the Nats going to cut ties with Austin Kearns? The guy just cannot hit. He has been in a two year slump. How many times do we have to see him strike out or hit into a double play before the Nats finally get rid of him? They have shown an exorbinant amount of patience with him; the time has come for it to stop. If for whatever reason Manny feels he has to keep Kearns, make him the fifth outfielder. Willingham has to play everyday as does Nick. Every game Kearns plays equals 4 automatic outs for the opponent.