Wednesday, June 24, 2009


They just kept on coming.

When The African Queen and I arrived at Nationals Park at 4:55PM, there must have already been 5,000 ticket holders to tonight's game already inside Center Field Plaza or standing around The Miller Lite Scoreboard Walk--watching Batting Practice, hanging out at The Red Porch, waiting to rush down to the visitors dugout at 5:30PM when remainder of the stadium opened for business.

Red Sox Nation had invaded The Nation's Capital and in doing so provided some serious energy not seen for any baseball game involving Our Washington Nationals in their new ballpark. Minute by minute, BoSox Dressed Fans came pouring into Nationals Park. A Home Game for The AL East Leaders--395 miles south of Fenway Park.

It was an incredible site--no doubt about it. But to their credit, Red Sox Fans were friendly--at least the one's Sohna and I came across. And in fact, except for the four folks sitting to our immediate left in the front row of Section 218 this evening--just about EVERYONE else there was cheering for The Boston Red Sox.

For nearly seven innings, Our Washington Nationals and Our Faithful Fans among the largest crowd in ballpark history (41,517) put up one decent fight. When you are the underdog in your very own stadium, the true home fans are going to do whatever they can to out cheer the rival. Proudly, we did well tonight despite what was certainly--at least--a 65% to 35% Boston Advantage. Of course, a three all tie after six complete had a lot to do with it. Also, some fine defensive plays--including a few more goodies by Willie Harris in centerfield. But when Ryan Zimmerman committed his 9th error of 2009 on a poor throw on a routine grounder hit by Kevin Youkilis with one out in that 7th frame, everything slowly began to unravel.

Of course, Youkilis would score the go ahead run moments later making the score 4 to 3 Boston.

Of course, Red Sox Nation would whoop it up! Again take over South Capitol Street.

And of course, Our Shaky Bullpen-solid of late in attempting to keep games close--would come out in the top of the 8th and completely collapse.

Our Washington Nationals got Sawx'd.

After Ron Villone allowed a leadoff single, Our Manager Manny Acta immediately came out of the dugout and signaled for Kip Wells--who proceeded to walk two of the three batters he faced. The last of whom was also Youkilis--making it really hard to differentiate between Boston Fans calling "YOOOOUK!" and Washington Fans bellowing "BOOOO!"

With the help of Washington's Relief Corp, a fire began to burn with the bases now loaded and just one out for Boston. Manny called for "Bling-Bling" to put out these burning embers--leaving the more reliable Joe Beimel warming up in the bullpen. And by the time Jesus Colome finished his extraordinary six batter appearance, Our Number 43 had not only fueled those flames but had torched it into a ravaging blaze. Throwing nothing but fastballs, Boston Sawx'd Colome all over Nationals Park. Three singles and a triple by Jacoby Ellsbury had quickly put this game out of reach.

As "Let's Go Red Sox!!" cascaded down from throughout all parts of Nationals Park, six runs scored for Boston--swiftly sending many fans up and out of their seats--heading towards the exits. What was an exciting close game had turned quickly into a rout. A disappointing turnaround after a really fine start for Washington. Having battled to a draw for six hard fought innings--Our Washington Nationals had let another possible Curly "W" slip away.

Like good teams always do, Boston capitalized on a Washington error. Then proceeded to hammer the baseball all over South Capitol Street to close this one out going away. Final Score from Nationals Park where 17 hits and six walks allowed usually means you've been beaten--and badly--The Boston Red Sox 11 and Our Washington Nationals 3 in what turned out to be a wipe out.

Sawx'd is the only why to describe it.

But what a great crowd!! It was fun at the ballpark tonight. Even helicopters were flying around taking aerial photos of the turnout. Sohna and I can't wait for the day when Nationals Park is filled to such capacity on a daily basis because the drawing card is Our Washington Nationals--and not The Visiting Team.

Game Notes & Highlights

John Lannan struggled tonight. Yeah, he received the so called "quality start" but he wasn't overly effective. Throwing behind in the count, he got beat repeatedly on the mound. Eventually leaving with 9 hits allowed, two walks and three earned runs scored over 6.1 innings. Boston's Jason Bay taking him deep and into the Red Porch Seats in the top of the 2nd on a full count. A fastball that was crushed. Bay, in fact, turning himself into a nice all-around talent. A worthy successor for Manny Ramirez in left for Boston. Also someone with a long-term future as a Red Sox.

Bay and Jacoby Ellsbury with four hits apiece tonight for Boston. Bay with three runs scored, 3 RBI. Ellsbury with two triples, 3 RBI. Reigning AL MVP Justin Pedroia with three hits and two runs scored. Kevin Youkilis with two hits, two runs scored and two RBI. Those guys can the hit the baseball, there is no question about that. And having never seen Pedroia play in person, it was absolutely stunning how tiny he is. What a player!!

Julian Tavarez was pegged with the loss after Ryan Zimmerman booted Youkilis' grounder in the 7th, then allowed a broken bat single to Jason Bay and intentional walk to Mike Lowell. Jason Varitek then knocked a sacrifice fly to left to score Youkilis with what eventually became the game winning run.

Wells: 0.1 innings pitches--two walks, two runs allowed. Colome:0.2 innings pitched--4 hits, three runs, an ERA now at an atrocious 8.25. Honestly, "The Human Rain Delay" was bad tonight. He was just throwing nothing but fastballs right over the middle of the plate--providing Batting Practice for Boston. Wells & Colome cost Washington the game this evening. Joel Hanrahan, in a mop up role, gave up an additional run in the top of the 9th. All three did not get the job done.

Adam Dunn ripped a double down the right field line--just past a diving Youkilis at 1st base for Boston--in the bottom of the 1st inning scoring Ryan Zimmerman--who he had singled before him. A drive by Dunn that bounced off the front of the right field line bleachers and caromed back into short right field. The ricochet allowing The Z-Man to score easily as J.D. Drew had problems picking up the baseball. Zimmerman would score again in the bottom of the 4th from 3rd on a wild pitch by Boston's Brad Penny. Washington had loaded up the bases on Our Number 11's second consecutive single and two walks with one out, but could only push across that one score. And closed out their scoring for the evening when Josh Bard scored all the way from 1st base (quite an achievement when you realize how slow Bard runs) on a two-out double down the right field line by Willie Harris. Josh Bard looked like he was running in slow motion--but still managed to JUST get home--slapping his left hand down on home plate, seconds before Jason Varitek applied the tag--tying this game at three.

Speaking of Harris, using his speed, he made three very nice running catches in centerfield tonight which minimized or ended Boston rallies. But in bottom of the 3rd inning, Nick Johnson lashed a hard ground ball toward second base--just to the right of the bag. With Cristian Guzman stealing on the play, "The Guz" was nearly on top of the base as the ball headed in the same spot. Boston shortstop Nick Green ranged across second base, reached the ball at the same time as Our Number 15 and collided with Guzman. Yet Green still had the moxie to throw the baseball to first base to double off NJ for The Defensive Play of This Game. It was a very nice play.

You have to love Kevin Youkilis' Batting Stance--feet close together, knees bent, hands up high above his head and his right hand barely gripping the baseball bat. Then, as the pitch is about to be delivered that right hand slips down and grips the bat just above his left fist. A very unique style that works for him.

Tee-Shirt Tuesday featured a very nice white with Red, White & Blue Patriotic Curly "W" Tee-shirt. Even when we arrived near 5PM, there didn't seem to be many left to hand out. The first 10,000 in attendance received them.

Near The Kids Zone in Centerfield Plaza--The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation set up a special Dunk Tank. For $5 any fan could take three throws to knock someone into the water wearing either a New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles or Philadelphia Phillies Shirt. All proceeds going toward The Dream Foundation's charities. Funny actually.

A moment of silence was taken before tonight's game in remembrance of those lost in Metro's tragic accident on Monday evening near the Fort Totten Metro Station.

In the 4th Inning Presidents Race, Teddy came out on a Unicycle--and of course did not win. In fact, Our Lovable Loser did not even complete the race. George and Abe raced hard to the finish before Abe pulled away for his 17th win of the year.

Wherever you looked tonight, people were hanging out--everywhere. This crowd was just huge!!

And provided--by far--the loudest and largest standing ovation EVER since the inception of The Welcome Home Salute to Our Troops recovering at Walter Reed in the middle of the 3rd Inning. The Entire Boston Red Sox Team Standing and Joining Into The Moment. Very Touching.

Finally, funny but true. Before the game even began--we are sitting inside The Stars & Stripes Club eating dinner. Sohna once again choosing the Teddy's Barbecue Short Rib (Now quickly becoming known as the Fred Flintstone Brontosaurus Bone--Yabba!! Dabba!! Do!!) and me the Florida Cuban Sandwich from the "Taste Of The Majors" stand behind Section 117 (The Short Rib is really good--The Cuban Sandwich terrific). These four Red Sox Fans walk past us seated by a window overlooking the South Capitol Street Bridge. One stops and pronounces: "Hey look guys!! There are actually two Nationals Fans here!!"

We actually started laughing in the spirit of it all. And these guys understood the fun as well. Then this one Boston Fan says to us: "I got to tell you. We love Fenway Park, the field, The Green Monster, everything that has to do with the game on the field. But when it comes to amenities--THIS PARK IS FABULOUS!! I wish we had stuff like this in Boston."

And he meant it. "There is so much to do here before the game. We've been here since the gates opened at 4:30PM, and we haven't sat down until now," The Red Sox Fan concluded. He then proceeded to get on his Iphone and call everyone he could think of and tell them about his experience. Nice.

Tonight's InGame Photos--Manuel Balce Ceneta (AP)
All Other Photos--Nats320--All Rights Reserved


janet said...

There was quite a crowd last night. I had several Red Sox sitting around me. They were pretty nice, but they thought the KC and the Sunshine Band (That's the way I like it) was being played in their honor. I thought (again) that it makes no sense to play it at the seventh inning stretch when we don't have a safe lead. Can't we find something else to do?

cheryl said...

How could there be so many Boston fans in DC?? It felt like a Boston stadium on our home turf, I almost didn't want to go or stay for that reason. You captured it all perfectly - hopefully the Nats stadium will pack it in like that for our own team!

Willie Harris continues to do great and Zim needs to step it up. So disappointing to see how well we held it together and to see it all drop in the 7th inning. It felt like it could be such a close win... maybe tonight?

Softball Girl said...

Hi SBF. I have 2 tix to tonight's game which I can't use. I know this is odd, but I want to give them to you to make sure they don't fall into a Sox fan's hands. Any way to do that? Or I'll give them to any of your readers for free provided they're Nats fans.

Anonymous said...

Love the blog, and as a Red Sox fan, enjoyed the DC hospitality last night. Great pics! All best wishes to the Nationals -- starting Friday!

Anonymous said...

The Globe said it best about the difference right now between the Sox and the Nats:

"No one would argue the talent level in either dugout is anything but disparate. But last night’s outcome came about in part because, at each pivotal moment, the Red Sox did small things that help a team win night after summer night and the Nationals did things that help a team lose night after summer night.

The Red Sox took the lead, for the third and final time, in the seventh after a rally that began with the Nationals’ league-high 65th error.... Kevin Youkilis grounded to third base, which, when a team is 20-48, can manage to be the beginning of the end.

Ryan Zimmerman picked up the ball and fired to first, a short hop that Nick Johnson could not handle. The ball trickled away, and Youkilis stood on first base.

Bay rolled a single through the left side. Youkilis dashed to second and watched Adam Dunn lumber toward the ball. There is a difference between a fast base runner and a good base runner, and Youkilis is the dictionary example of the latter.

“You can call Youk athletic,’’ Francona said. “Put your name next to it, not mine.’’ But there was Youkilis, darting around second base and headed toward third. He slid feet first, in time by a couple steps. “Huge,’’ said Bay, who followed behind to second. The Nationals intentionally walked Mike Lowell, and Jason Varitek belted a sacrifice fly to Dunn.

It was obscured an inning later, but consider how the winning run scored: A routine play botched, an intelligent base running maneuver, a plain sacrifice fly. In baseball, the difference between the worst teams and the best teams is often reduced to small things done well."

In fact, Pedroia's double in the 9th also could define the difference between the Sox and the Nats. Pedroia saw the lazy approach to his outfield shot and never hesitated on his way to second. Wham, a single becomes a double. No excuse for that.

Nick Green's superb double play another example of how great teams just seem to make the right plays when needed.

And, of course, it all fell apart for the Nats once the relievers entered the game.

Nice to see a packed house, a festive environment at Nationals Park, and Red Sox fans were loud but respectful.

Nats management has a lot of work to do if it wants to see crowds like that on a regular basis to watch the Nationals.

Screech's Best Friend said...

softball girl: Thanks for the offer. Sohna and I have season tickets and attend every game anyway. But we would be more than happy to give them to a worthy Nats Fan if you like. I will be at the ESPN Zone at 12 Noon today for Wil Nieves and Charley Slowes in Downtown DC--if you can make it there.

Softball Girl said...

Actually I found a needy nats fan near me here in courthouse thru Craigslist. He showed me his Chief bobblehead, clip from the Post from Zims walkoff in the opener last year and a Hondo autographed helmet for proof.

But thanks for the ESPN reminder. Forgot about that.

yazzy1956 said...

As a native New-Englander and life-long Sox fan, but also a 5-year season's ticketholder for our beloved Nats, I felt schizophrenic last night. So I wore my Sox jersey and my Nats hat and cheered for both teams. Like playing with house money in Vegas...I could not lose.

I was in the men's room when 5 Sox fans came in and they thought my outfit was so hilarious that everyone wanted my picture taken with them. And, I agree for us Sox lifers a lot of these bandwagon jumpers are an embarrassment and have no sense of history of the franchise. It is "Just Win Baby" for them.

But mark my words there will be a lot of bandwagon jumpers when the Nats turn it around. Remember how RFK used to rock that first year? All those fair-weather fans will be back in droves.

Those who complain about all the Sox fans at the games this week need to understand for a lot of these folks the only way they can go to a game, without paying ridiculous prices to scalpers, is to see them on the road. Fenway has had 505 consecutive sellouts and they have the most expensive seats in MLB.

We may not realize how lucky we are to have such a beautiful ballpark. This is a quote from the Providence, RI Journal, "As far as the ballpark goes, David Ortiz stood near the cage during batting practice and said "Boston needs a place like this."

I told my wife while I soaked in how beautiful our ballpark looked filled with people and energy that someday it will look really nice during a World Series game!

Anonymous said...

So, you got to see what RED SOX Nation is all about last night. Is it not great to hear in the visiting ballpark "LET'S GO RED SOX"



Anonymous said...

So, you got to see RED SOX nation last night. Is it not great to hear in the visiting ballpark

By the way great interview with Hondo, and I like the Arlington Chargers Photo.



SenatorNat said...

Chris Behrman (sp?) refers to Nationals derisively as the "Washington Generals" with the connotation that we are the stooges playing patsy to the Harlem Globetrotters night in and night out - in this case, to the "true" major league teams like the Boston Red Sox.

Growing up, the Red Sox, KC Athletics, and the Washington Senators were the bottom feeders of the American League - this changed, of course, with Yaz and Lonborg and the 1967 pennant, brought to Boston in part by the Mob breaking Tigers' Denny McClain's foot with weeks to go in the regular season. Red Sox can point to 1967 as the turning point when their Nation began to form. Prior to that, they booed Ted Williams, etc., and had a miserable team. They have a fantastic team ethic and the best fans outside of the Bronx in the U.S. The Patriots, deserving of such rabid loyalty, do not get it - so it is unique even within the Grasshopper City...

Nationals started Josh Bard, who cannot catch or throw, Adam Dunn, who cannot catch or throw, and Josh Williamham, starting in right for only a handfull of games in his life prior to last evening.

Mr. Yipps showed up for the eighth time last evening at 3rd base, unfortunately. Red Sox are the best dirtbag, Ty Cobbesque, take advantage of every opportunity, cut-throat bunch - timeless, wonderful baseball players.

When Colume came in, they indeed most have grinned in unison to themselves - he is a cancer like Cabrera and must go for the good of the Nationals' spirit. Wells tries, but... And Hanrahan will have a revival in his career, hopefully, but I suspect that he feels like a veritable Dan Quayle in a public debate inside...

I am for Manny for the duration; for Stan; for Mike; for the Nationals. I am concerned that the purse stings are still tied too tightly; and very concerned that the CFO may feel that the Washington Generals is not a bad moniker for a tacit business plan which benefits from an abundance of "Harlem Globetrotters'" fans generating the ROI.

Trust in First in War, First in Peace, and First Stop in D.C. for Expatriates. (Not ex-Patriots!) All Perplexing.
(Opinions expressed herein are simply the musings of a middle-aged man, and can be copied, dismissed, and ridiculed by any and all interested parties)

Edward J. Cunningham said...

SenatorNat, at least "Washington Generals" is not as bad as "Nubinals."

I wish I could say I had a good time last night, but it made me sick to my stomach to see Nationals Park turned into Fenway South. The crowd actually tricked me into cheering for a Nationals strikeout at one point.

The worst of it is this---if the Nationals ever become a playoff contender, we are unlikely to become as big a draw on the road. The Toronto Blue Jays were the worst drawing road team in MLB when they started playing as an expansion franchise. Incredibly, they were STILL the worst drawing road team after they not only became a contender, but won the World Series two consecutive years.

Think that's an aberration because they are a Canadian team? I saw a powerful Detroit Tigers team come to RFK Stadium that was hitting home runs into the upper deck. It was a much better team than the Yankees (whom they beat in the playoffs) and I think even this Red Sox team. However, the crowd was sparse because they had the wrong name written across their jerseys.
I honestly think that if the 1927 Yankees were to come back in a time machine and play today, nobody would watch them on TV or travel to see them on the road if they wore the uniforms of the Chicago White Sox.

Enough babbling. My feelings can be summed up in a text message I sent last night---"My sympathy for Yankee fans is growing expodentially."