Friday, July 31, 2009

On Thompson & Tucker

Photo--Aaron Thompson

Chatting with Interim GM Mike Rizzo tonight, I asked him about Aaron Thompson, acquired today from The Florida Marlins for Nick Johnson.

Paraphrasing Mr. Rizzo's comments: We like him a lot. Our scouts have been watching him closely over the past few weeks and they were very impressed with what he offers. We feel he is definitely a middle of the rotation starter with a good upside. And as I have come to realize--you trust your scouts always.

He's a better choice than Ross Tucker? (SBF)

(Paraphrasing) Mr. Rizzo: The Marlins kept on offering us Tucker, never did they mention Thompson into the discussion. Our Scouts saw Tucker pitch a few days ago and he couldn't even reach 88MPH on his fastball. This is a guy that others claim can reach 95MPH on his fastball. Somethings not right there. We were not seeing that. And like I said--you trust your scouts. Only at the end (of the trading deadline) was Aaron brought into serious discussion. We are happy with the deal.

Straight from The Interim GM himself.


Sohna and I have been traveling all day and just arrived at our final destination. Upon hearing the news of the trade deadline maneuvers--our first reaction to hearing Nick Johnson being traded was sadness. The fact that Chico Harlan reports NJ held back tears upon being told of the news--even harder to take. The African Queen's biggest enjoyment that she gets from rooting for Our Washington Nationals is when those she cheers for are good people--both on--and off the field.

"Nicky", as Sohna always calls him, was one of her favorite players. And unquestionably a really nice man as well. NJ always stopped to chat with The African Queen. She will miss that--the hardest part of being a fan--when YOUR players are traded.

We have no idea who Aaron Thompson is--the player whom Washington received in return from The Florida Marlins. Hopefully, this southpaw 22 Year-Old will pan out in The Nation's Capital as a solid contributor. If "Pitching, Pitching and More Pitching" really is the end all to building a contender--we are all for it.

But The African Queen and I hope that Our Washington Nationals are sincere when Interim GM Mike Rizzo stated after the today's swap went down that DC's Team was interested in extending Nick Johnson on a contract before this trade was made. Something, "Nicky" was equally interested in. Time certainly ran out, but only for this season--2009. 2010 is a different story. Our Now Former Number 24 is a free agent come October. If a deal can be made and NJ truly wants to return to the organization where he had the most impact--and the most respect--we really hope that deal will happen.

Nick Johnson--best of luck to you in South Florida. And when you return to Nationals Park next Tuesday, August 4th--rest assured--many will be giving you your due accolades. Most unquestionably--The African Queen. She is already missing you, badly.

PS: We also fear many throws to first base will get away now for errors--picks that Nick Johnson would nab on a regular basis.

PPS: As for Joe Beimel, we really have no reaction other than the fact that-- one of the two pitchers acquired from The Colorado Rockies just recently went under arm surgery. But Beimel was certainly not a part of Our Washington Nationals future, and if either Ryan Mattheus or Robinson Fabian become contributors in DC--it's a win. Beimel would have NEVER returned to DC for 2010--no question about that. Take what you can get--when you can.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Frustration Factor

Home Plate Umpire Joe West did not cost Our Washington Nationals this afternoon's baseball game in Milwaukee. Poor execution on two defensive plays in the bottom of the 7th inning was the difference maker.

Not the ball and strike calls.

Not The Umpire.

Not The Milwaukee Brewers.

Not even The Brew Crew's Starter, Yovani Gallardo, who struck out eleven Nats today facing him in the batter's box.

The Frustration Factor did the damage.

Our Washington Nationals beat themselves at Miller Park when Wil Nieves couldn't properly place down a tag on Mike Cameron at the plate and then, moments later, when Anderson Hernandez couldn't relay a perfectly played inning ending double play grounder slapped by Craig Counsell to Alberto Gonzalez at shortstop.

Two basic plays, each misplayed, plated the go ahead and insurance runs that changed the entire nature of this game around.

Washington had battled all day long, letting Joe West get under their skin. Watched as Interim Manager, Jim Riggleman, got himself tossed for arguing a debatable called swinging strikeout of Anderson Hernandez (replays showed the ball was fouled off). But DC's Team was still in this game thanks to some decent starting pitching from J.D. Martin, and a key three-run homer, laser beam shot, out of Miller Park by Ryan Zimmerman in the 4th off Gallardo.

The score was tied at three apiece in that bottom of the 7th with J.D. Martin facing his biggest challenge EVER in his young Major League Career. Cameron had led off for Milwaukee with a double. Casey McGehee followed with a single. Brewers now with runners on 1st & 3rd with nobody out. And Pat Corrales (managing after Riggleman's ejection) decided to trust his rookie pitcher throwing in his 3rd Major League Start--not Jason Bergmann nor anyone else warming up in our bullpen.

Sohna and I can applaud that decision--because it's how you learn to compete on the game's highest stage. And Martin responded well by inducing a soft grounder hit by Jason Kendall to The Z-Man charging in from 3rd. Our Number 11 scooped the baseball and sidearmed a perfect toss around the sliding Cameron. Mike was out by a good five feet, at least until Wil Nieves spread his legs across home plate, not blocking it, and proceeded to catch Zimmerman's relay low, but for some reason, Our Number 23 raised his arms and attempted to reach for Mike Cameron's upper body.

All Wil Nieves had to do was allow The Brewers' centerfielder to slide directly into his glove for out number one. A huge mistake--Cameron called safe--and rightly so--by Home Plate Umpire West.

Frustration shown by Nieves and then taken to another level when Sean Burnett replaced J.D Martin and Milwaukee loaded up the bases when J.J. Hardy sacrificed McGehee and Kendall to second and third and FLop was intentionally walked so the lefty throwing Burnett could face the lefty swinging Counsell.

Our Number 17 got the exact result HE wanted too--a perfect double play grounder to Alberto Gonzalez, who fielded the baseball, tossed to Anderson Hernandez at 2nd for out number two. Who then proceeded to throw his relay so far off the bag that Nick Johnson had to block the wild throw as it sailed to his right--well off first base. The inning ending double play lost when Anderson was not really pressured by Felipe Lopez sliding into second base before him. McGehee scoring Milwaukee's 2nd run of the 7th--thanks to poor execution on the part of Our Washington Nationals.

No errors were charged, these two mistakes were of the mental variety. But clearly, Washington was frustrated by much that had happened earlier in this game and they had let that emotional tie get to them--to their detriment. Mike MacDougal trotting out to pitch the bottom of the 8th, not pitching well and letting this game finally get out of hand by allowing two runs, on two hits, one walk and two--yes--Two Wild Pitches!!

The very site of an emotionally charged Anderson Hernandez being removed from the game BEFORE the start of the last half of the 8th by Ronnie Belliard but AFTER heading out to man 2nd Base--not a pretty sight. Anderson throwing his glove hard against the back wall of the visiting dugout as he came off the field while screaming something, loudly, as he placed himself on the protective railing in front.

The Frustration Factor had truly taken over.

Final Score from Miller Park where DC's Team blew a good opportunity to win their third series over the past 11 days--The Milwaukee Brewers 7 and Our Washington Nationals 3. Loss Number 70 in 102 games played this season was difficult to watch because Our Team that calls The Nation's Capital it's very home, let their disappointments get to them. Annoyance led to misfortune. Upsetting themselves--led to mishap.

Yovani Gallardo, Milwaukee's top young pitcher, was impressive, but he did not defeat his opponent this afternoon at Miller Park. Washington did that all by themselves--frustratingly so.

Today's InGame Photos--Darren Hauck (AP)

Falling Asleep

After three long and exhaustive days at work, I literally fell asleep within moments of the conclusion of last night's game from Miller Park, much like how Our Washington Nationals slumbered through the last half of a very winnable game.

Four to nothing lead.

Four to two lead.

Four to three lead.

Eventually, four to five disadvantage.

Garrett Mock did not pitch well again. He couldn't hold a lead. Tyler Clippard, he of the fabulous four inning relief stint during last Saturday night's 13-1 victory over The San Diego Padres, looked like nothing comparable last tonight.

Mock couldn't command his pitches. Clippard was all over the place and eventually gave up the go-ahead two run homer to Pinch Hitter Casey McGehee. Our Washington Nationals gave one away tonight at Miller Park. The Milwaukee Brewers took advantage of young pitchers not having the confidence to finish innings. Garrett Mock still doesn't trust his stuff. Talent that wavers when the slightest disadvantage goes against them. Clippard's bad outing was surprising considering how well he had pitched of late--especially after inducing a nice double play grounder upon inheriting Garrett's runners on 1st & 3rd with nobody out in the bottom of the 6th.

Washington's top of their batting order played well--the first five hitters--Nyjer Morgan, Cristian Guzman, Josh Willingham, Ryan Zimmerman and Nick Johnson all combined for nine hits, three runs and all five runs batted in last night. Nyjer made a beautiful scamper from 1st to 3rd on a wild pitch in the top of the 8th with one out--yet DC's Team still couldn't get him home with what at that time would have been the game tying 6th score.

Our Washington Nationals slumbered through the last half of this affair. Their effort wasn't enough especially when Ronnie Belliard struggled mightily going 0-5 while leaving six runners left on base in his At-Bats.

No, Our Washington Nationals didn't play the sharp baseball seen over the past nine days--instead they sort of reverted to a team seen earlier this season--the one that is unable to close out an opponent. They fell asleep, just like I did.

Final Score from Miller Park where DC's Team still has the chance to take their third series of the past eight days this afternoon in Wisconsin--The Milwaukee Brewers 7 and Our Washington Nationals 5 in nine frustrating innings. The Brewers' Manny Parra had "ZERO" reasons to expect to get an personal victory tonight. Parra was terrible and yet Washington couldn't take advantage of his poor pitch selection and execution tonight and close this one out early.

Mock really didn't help himself. Expecting to win five in a row, instead Our Washington Nationals were defeated for the 69th time in 101 Games played this season.

PS--Nice effort by Nyjer Morgan on the video replay home run ruled triple by the umpiring crew in the bottom of the third. Morgan almost made a spectacular catch on Ryan Braun's drive. He thought he should have caught it and was pissed at himself for not keeping the baseball in his glove. That's an attitude we can appreciate. Morgan doesn't give in on anything seen so far.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Smiling Faces

The most important aspect of tonight's game at Miller Park.

Better than Nyjer Morgan's Leadoff Homer.

Better than Adam Dunn's TITANIC blast that bounced out of The Milwaukee Brewers' Ballpark.

Better than Josh Willingham's bat staying hot.

Better than Washington moving runners along with simple base hits and sacrifice bunts.

Better than Morgan knocking home two more runs later in this affair.

Better than Collin Balester bending but not breaking on the mound against The Brew Crew.

Better play thanks to improved defensive glove work by Our Washington Nationals.

And better than "The Guz" sealing this deal tonight with a three run homer in the top of the 8th.

All those aspects were not better than watching Our Washington Nationals having fun playing baseball again.

Washington's Players displaying smiles all around in the dugout and on the field.

Teammates enjoying the game and the camaraderie that comes with it.

Winning on a consistent basis--now four in a row--can certainly help take away some of the sting experienced most of this season.

A lot of smiling faces representing DC Baseball at Miller Park Tonight. Ones representing joy, happiness--the very reasons to look ahead because Washington is playing some mighty fine ball right now--winners of six out of their last eight.

Final Score from Miller Park where for the second consecutive night--a ball game was really never in doubt for the team that calls The Nation's Capital its home--Our Washington Nationals 8 and The Milwaukee Brewers 3. Curly "W" Number 32 perfectly represented what winning always does--in any sport.

Success always breeds confidence.

Triumph provides comfort.

And being able to overcome and prevail after so much travail this season--can only bring Smiling Faces to Our Washington Nationals, as well as, The African Queen and I tonight. Sure, Washington is going to have their bad days again--it's bound to happen. But over the past week, more times than not--DC's Team has come prepared to play.

Another good win. Another well played game.

Tonight's InGame Photos--Morry Gash (AP)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Well Dave--There's Your Extra Point

Working late this evening, The African Queen and I didn't start watching tonight's game against The Milwaukee Brewers until Adam Dunn shook and rattled The Miller Park left field stands with his finest defensive play of the year. Chasing FLop's foul fly Our Number 44 ran smack dab into the railing--Felipe Lopez was out. Miller Park had begun to feel the pain.

For from that moment on Our Washington Nationals laid it all out on the line--delivering blow after blow to The Brew Crew. Down 2-0 heading to the bottom of the 5th, Josh Willingham unloaded--for not just one--but two GRAND SLAMS in consecutive innings. 13 runs over two innings--the first 10 scores all at the mercy of The Brewers Jeff Suppan. It's not often a starting pitcher lasts long enough in any game, while getting pounded, to allow 10 earned runs.

Better yet, Willingham's second grand slam in the 6th would not have happened if with Alberto Gonzalez on first base, Jason Bergmann had not basically blown another sacrifice bunt by bouncing the baseball down on home plate with his bat. Called fair by Home Plate Umpire Ed Rapuano--Milwaukee's Catcher Jason Kendall tagged out Our Number 57 first BEFORE throwing to his shortstop J.J. Hardy. Gonzalez stopped running, Hardy tagged second and threw to first base. Alberto was safe because Hardy did not realize the force play was off.

A mental mistake that directly led to Willingham's Second Grand Slam with two outs in the bottom of the 6th. And getting Dave Jageler to bemoan on WFED that Washington had missed the "EXTRA POINT" with that first of two touchdown scores in the 5th frame. Taken care of in the top of the 8th when Ryan Zimmerman slammed out his 18th Round Tripper of 2009.

"Well Dave--There's Your Extra Point!!" smirked Charlie Slowes. The Boys Of Summer just started laughing--at not only their sense of humor but another laugher of a ball game. A romp over The Milwaukee Brewers. A blowout just like Saturday Night's 13-1 crush of The San Diego Padres.

This game getting so out of hand, The Brew Crew Faithful at Miller Park were BOOING.

Final Score from The City Of Suds (Beer), Our Washington Nationals 14 and The Milwaukee Brewers 6 thanks to two incredible offensive outbursts in the top of the 5th and 6th innings tonight. Curly "W" Number 31 witnessed Josh Willingham becoming just the 13th player in Major League History to hit grand slams in consecutive innings. As Dave Jageler mentioned on the radio--that feat is "rarer than a perfect game".

Incidentally, Frank Robinson is one of those 13 to also accomplish the feat. On June 26th, 1970 at RFK Stadium, "Frank Robby" hit consecutive grand slams off first Washington's Joe Coleman and then Joe Grzneda. And just like Willingham's tonight, Frank Robinson hit his in the 5th and 6th frames. The only two grand slams of The Hall Of Famer's illustrious career (Amazing Actually). Funny story--Frank Robinson--to this day--says he never forgave his teammate, Paul Blair, for making the last out with the bases loaded that June, 1970 day in the top of the 9th. The bases were loaded again at that time and the man who later became Our Washington Nationals First Manager--wanted to make HISTORY with his third grand slam hit in one Major League Game--never accomplished. Not once. Ever. In Major League Baseball. To This Day.

Having to both be at work at 4AM tomorrow--Tuesday morning--that will pretty much do it for The African Queen and I tonight. Five wins in our last six games played in "The Riggleman Era".

What a night. Sohna said when I screamed out "WOW!!" after Josh Willingham's Second Grand Slam--she is sure EVERYBODY within a one mile circumference of our home in Alexandria, Virginia--Heard Me. Too Bad.

PS--Nyjer Morgan, runs everything out, watches the game play out in front of him, takes extra bases, gets himself in scoring position and throws out Jody Gerut at the plate. The more you watch him, the better he becomes before your eyes. Really, he is exciting to watch. And he leads The National League in Outfield Assists (11).

Tonight's InGame Photo--Morry Gash (AP)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Cat & Mouse Game

As Nyjer Morgan began to dust the dirt off his uniform for the third time in less than 90 seconds, he picked up a hand full of infield clay and tossed it back toward San Diego Padres Reliever Greg Burke. The announcement stating The Cat & Mouse Game had officially begun in the bottom of the 10th inning at Nationals Park. Morgan knew he was getting into Burke's head--forcing San Diego to consider his presence at first base a threat.

A fear few opponents were confronted with while playing Our Washington Nationals in the past.

Electrifying at times since his arrival from The Pittsburgh Pirates last month, Morgan as been a menace with his glove in the field; his bat at the plate and, especially, each and every time Our New Number 1 reaches base safely. Nyjer is the game changer that has transformed Washington's Lineup. A pest on the base paths that needs to be watched--closely. His God Given personal speed forcing each and every opposing pitcher to respect him and his new team as well.

Nyjer Morgan has provided Our Washington Nationals new life with a skills set missing badly from our everyday lineup. This Sunday afternoon, Morgan displayed all his newly acquired importance--by simply bothering the heck out of Greg Burke of The San Diego Padres.

Resetting the scene.

Already this sunny afternoon, John Lannan had pitched eight wonderful innings of baseball for DC's Team, allowing just one run and leaving with a slim 2-1 lead after The Friar's 2nd Baseman Luis Rodriguez muffed a routine relay throw from his shortstop Everth Cabrera in the bottom of the 8th. A dropped toss on a sure inning ending double play ball hit by Nick Johnson--that gave Washington new life--and the unexpected advantage when Adam Dunn followed moments later with a single up the middle scoring Willie Harris with the go ahead run off Luke Gregerson.

Fortuitous joy turned to sorrow moments later when--with that Curly "W" so close at hand--Washington stunningly lost that lead when San Diego's Kyle Blank slammed out one of the deepest home runs yet hit down the left field line with two outs in the top of the 9th on South Capitol Street--on a first pitch fastball served up by Our Closer--Mike MacDougal. The game tying score eventually sending this affair into extra frames depressing those in the announced crowd of 20,747 standing, clapping and cheering for victory--lost--if only momentarily.

Which brings us back to the bottom of the 10th frame.

Scratched from today's starting lineup after tweaking a hamstring last night/early this morning during the 3 hour 11 minute rain delay and eventual 13-1 win over The Padres, Nyjer Morgan was a late inning pinch hitter for Lannan and subsequent defensive replacement in centerfield. Extra duty now called on in extra frames. And not looking injured at all--Our Number 1 laid down a beautiful leadoff bunt down the 3rd base line that San Diego's 3rd Baseman--Kevin Kouzmanoff--had no play on. Running hard all the way, Morgan instilled some fear into The Padres reliever now on the mound. Greg Burke didn't know what to do about Nyjer's presence. For another pest--Willie Harris--was standing at the plate to follow. Morgan can fly, Harris is a good contact hitter. Everyone realizing--if Morgan steals second--this game may well have been all but over.

Knowing this, Burke threw over to first to send Nyjer back--trying to keep him close. And on each of the subsequently four pick off tosses Greg threw to Adrian Gonzalez--Morgan inched a little farther, and farther, off the base while deking he was going to run. Like Wile. E. Coyote against The Road Runner--Burke had no chance. Just like Tom against Jerry.

After The Cat & Mouse Games at 1st base--Willie Harris laid down another beautiful bunt--this one of the sacrifice kind that sent Morgan on his merry way to 2nd base and getting the home crowd up on their feet with thunderous applause. Washington had moved a runner into scoring position by playing small ball--could they now manufacture the game winning run?

Nick Johnson was not given that opportunity to be a hero. The Padres intentionally walked him to set up the double play and face Ryan Zimmerman. But this was not to be Our Number 11's day either. The Z-Man flied out to centerfield--bringing up one of the unlikeliest leading men of them all.

Austin Kearns has struggled mightily since late April--having driven in just one run since May 15th. Buried on the bench as Josh Willingham has emerged the starer, Our Number 25 was only in this game as a defensive replacement in the 9th when Washington blew the lead with two outs on Kyle Blanks home run. Now--Austin found himself at the plate--with the game on the line and the very speedy Nyjer Morgan standing on second.

Still concerned that Our Number 1 was going to beat him, Greg Burke continued to look back over his shoulder--glancing to see if Nyjer would take off for 3rd. Even his shortstop, Everth Cabrera, and 2nd baseman, Luis Rodriguez, kept faking movements toward the bag to hold Morgan close. Setting the trap that Nyjer did not fall for. Presence again that played well into Washington's hand when finally Burke decided to pitch to Kearns. And Austin slammed the second offering thrown his way to right centerfield for a clean single--sending the scurrying Nyjer Morgan home with the game winning run. Lifting all those Washington Fans still on site up and out of their seats in great joy. And setting off a celebration of Nationals Players running on the field, featuring Willingham attempting to tackle Kearns. A pile of players so happy for their teammate who had delivered in the clutch--sending Our Washington Nationals home in victory. A win set up by Nyjer Morgan's leadership.

Final Score from Nationals Park where daring speed sent fear into The Friars--Our Washington Nationals 3 and The San Diego Padres 2 in 10 very lively innings. Curly "W" Number 30 was Washington's 4th in their past five games, their second victory in a row, second consecutive series win as well. While good starting pitching ruled most of this sunny Sunday afternoon, The Bang!! Zoom!! Of The Fireworks!! signaled a new game was now on display in The Nation's Capital. No longer are Our Washington Nationals one dimensional on the base paths. Nyjer Morgan provides a daring mix of bat control, speed and skill well needed in our every day lineup. No longer can an opposing pitcher expect to pounce down on and restrict all of our runners. The Cat no longer controls The Mouse. The San Diego Padres, like The New York Mets before them this weekend, have come to realize Nyjer Morgan has transformed Our Washington Nationals.

And he didn't even start this game. Our Number 1 was the most compelling player on the field. Lannan was great, Kearns came up clutch, but Nyjer Morgan was the catalyst that propelled Our Washington Nationals to victory. The throwing of a handful of dirt back toward Greg Burke after that third pick off toss set the tone. The Cat & Mouse Game terrific to watch.

Some Good Baseball Today. An Even Better Curly "W".

Game Notes & Highlights

The only down part of today's affair for John Lannan was that he didn't get the deserved victory. Washed out by MacDougal's home run allowed to Blanks, Our Number 31 was outstanding for eight full innings. He only struck out two Padre hitters, but he again kept his pitches down, stayed ahead in the count, walked just one. His only mistake among five hits allowed was a two out, two strike double to Kevin Kouzmanoff in the top of the 6th which plated San Diego's Will Venable with their first run of the day. Otherwise, John Lannan pitched some very good baseball.

MacDougal's game tying homer allowed was his first blown save for Washington. Joe Beimel received his first personal victory of 2009, against five previous losses, when Austin Kearns slammed his game winning single--scoring Morgan--in the bottom of the 10th inning.

San Diego's Chad Gaudin pitched equally as impressive baseball from the get-go this afternoon. Josh Willingham touched him for Washington's game tying score on a home run just over the left field wall in the bottom of the 7th frame. Other than that--Gaudin kept Washington's hitters under wraps. Surprisingly, only John Lannan the other DC Batter to solve him--stroking two of the five hits Chad allowed in seven complete innings.

After walking Everth Cabrera with one out in the top of the 8th inning, John Lannan picked off The Padres shortstop at first base--fooling the leaning Cabrera with a beautiful move and toss to Nick Johnson--who quickly slapped the tag as Everth tried to wiggle his diving hand back into the base around NJ's glove. First Base Umpire John Hirschbeck with the out call for The Defensive Play Of This Game. Padres Manager Bud Black and First Base Coach Rich Renteria argued the call to no avail.

Before Austin Kearns hit his game winner, maybe the loudest cheers heard all afternoon at Nationals Park was when TEDDY WON! Yes, Our Lovable Loser won today's 4th Inning Presidents Race, but was disqualified by Screech for illegally using a motor scooter to pass the finish line first. Abe, Tom & George protesting immediately. Abe declared the winner. But even when everyone watching KNEW TEDDY WAS CHEATING--the roar and anticipation that went up all over the ballpark was undeniably exciting. Was it ever loud!! People were standing and into the unexpected moment. Making you wonder what the decibel level from the crowd will be when Teddy actually does win--fair and square? Hopefully, before a fuller house.

Up on terrace level during a portion of the game taking beauty shots on a nice afternoon, I came across some new picnic tables placed at the top of the ramp down the left field line--near the foul pole--Section 301. The new picnic tables situated to allow folks to sit, eat, chat and still watch the game. A nice addition providing another venue to take in the action.

Finally--love this photo--Our Young Guns. Garrett Mock, John Lannan, Jordan Zimmermann, Collin Balester & J.D. Martin all sitting together on Washington's Bench in the top of the 9th inning. The future still all in front of us--while we watch them from behind.

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

Well Worth The Wait


That is the only way to describe it.

From Ryan Zimmerman's two run homer in the bottom of the very first inning; to the 3 Hours & 11 Minute rain delay that occurred nearly directly after; to the absolutely wonderful time The African Queen and I had spending the evening with Bob & Don; to Adam Dunn's Grand Slam once play commenced again at 10:40PM in the second inning; to Tyler Clippard's OUTSTANDING four inning performance after the long wet night ended; to an absolute wipe out of The San Diego Padres at Nationals Park--this evening was the most enjoyable night ALL SEASON on South Capitol Street.

No doubt about it.

Our Washington Nationals controlled a ball game from start, to delay, to finish. There was no uncertainty in this match up.
To bad so few were on site at the end--because this victory was well deserved and enjoyable to watch.

It's 2AM in the morning as I write this, and we still can't get over the bliss watching this one.

16 total hits by Our Washington Nationals--three apiece by Zimmerman and Cristian Guzman. Four hits by Nyjer Morgan. Two by Adam Dunn--including his 2nd Grand Slam this season and five total RBI. Two hits by Josh Willingham with one RBi and one sliced liner to right plating two runs by Nick Johnson.

Combined with Clippard's REMARKABLE appearance on the mound after the original rain delay concluded--Washington played it's most complete game all season. One well worth the wait.

Final Score from Nationals Park where only a few hundred braved the elements to last until the end--Our Washington Nationals 13 and The San Diego Padres 1. Really, this was an outstanding game from start to finish. And as our friend Bob noted during this affair--from the one spot to the sixth spot in Our Batting Lineup--DC's Team is competitive. Tonight showed they can dominate when everything goes right in their direction.

Sohna and I didn't care that this evening's affair lasted well past midnight. This One AM ending time didn't bother us at all. We didn't care that the rain delay lasted over three hours. What mattered was that Curly "W" number 29 was a wipeout. One of those easy victories that come from total domination over an opponent--something that had yet to occur in 2009.

At least until this night--and early morning.

Time to go to bed so we can return to Nationals Park on Sunday for the 1:35PM start--Fresh.

So--How About That Tyler Clippard? Just Outstanding Work--Dominant!

There was no Bang!! Zoom!! Of The Fireworks!! tonight at Nationals Park due to the lateness of the hour, but this walkover win was Well Worth The Wait. Our Washington Nationals CRUSHED The San Diego Padres in a most entertaining style--just like the company we enjoyed with Bob & Don.

OK--having to be up early tomorrow for work before the final game of this three game series against The Friars--it's time to get some rest. But we want to emphasize--this 13 to 1 win was thrilling to watch. There is nothing like taking over a game from start to finish while watching with friends. A tact which Our Washington Nationals need to perform more often.

PS--Thanks to Florence for the hospitality tonight--first class. And we loved the Harris Teeter Eco-Friendly Tote Bag, nicely done and usable.

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

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Same Old Song

Single, passed ball, throwing error, sacrifice fly. One unearned run allowed--one out into the top of the very first inning. A familiar verse was heard this evening.

Yeah, it was that type of night again for Our Washington Nationals, Version 5.0. Poor starting pitching, worse fielding and given the opportunity to get back into this game in the bottom of the 7th with the bases loaded and an opposing San Diego Padres Pitcher in trouble--"The Guz" decided to swing at everything thrown his way and struck out on three consecutive pitches--killing a potential game tying rally.

You can't win baseball games when you commit four errors. Your chances of victory are slim when your starting pitcher only goes 5.1 innings while allowing 5 runs (three earned) and looks nothing like the dominant hurler he was at AAA Syracuse. You can't come from behind when your hitters don't deliver in the clutch.

Like an old worn out record--that's a black disk, by the way, made of petroleum that provided music for millions before the digital age came about for you more modern folks--Our Washington Nationals played the same old song tonight on South Capitol Street. They beat themselves in another game in which the final score was not as close as the outcome.

Washington let The San Diego Padres take advantage of them. The Worst Hitting Team in The National League (San Diego), controlled The Worst Pitching Team (Washington)--or so the statistics say. All thanks to some very poor play defensively and the inability to retire Padres hitters with runners in scoring position.

Josh Bard with a passed ball and throwing error. Two pitchers--Garrett Mock and Jason Bergmann--both fielded grounders back to them and then proceeded to throw wild to first base. The super slow San Diego Catcher--Eliezer Alfonzo ripped a grounder down the left field line only to see the equally slow footed Adam Dunn misplay the ball's carom in the corner--letting Alfonzo chug over to 3rd for what was ruled a double and error on Our Number 44.

Sure, both Cristian Guzman and Ryan Zimmerman both slammed out home runs, their 4th and 16h of 2009, respectively, but those solo shots was nowhere near enough as Our Washington Nationals were left mostly singing to themselves about lost opportunity. And even when San Diego's reliever Luke Gregerson got into some serious trouble in the bottom of the 7th--DC's Team couldn't cut a new tune. Down by four runs at the time, Bard singled, Austin Kearns pinch hit and walked, followed by Willie Harris being hit by pitch. With The Padres pitcher straining--Our Number 15 stepped to the plate and swung mightily at all three Gregerson offerings--and didn't come close to hitting anything. A melody heard many times this season at Nationals Park.

Potential rally over. This game over. A Oldie, but not Goodie--recorded as defeat number 68 of 2009.

Final Score from Nationals Park where the two teams with the worst records in The National League faced off tonight to a familar hymn--The San Diego Padres 6 and Our Washington Nationals 2. A lullaby where Washington found ways to make mistakes on the simple plays. Refrain which resulted in extra bases, more hitters stepping to the plate and ultimately uncontested free runs for The Padres.

Yes, that is right--The Same Old Song on South Capitol Street this evening--sadly.

Game Notes & Highlights

Garrett Mock really hasn't looked good in either of his starts since returning from AAA Syracuse. He did pick San Diego Shortstop, Everth Cabrera, off 1st base to end the top of the 5th, but that was just about his only high point. Nine hits, one walk and one throwing error resulted in five runs allowed (three earned) in just 5.1 innings. Mock didn't seem to be fooling many Padre hitters tonight.

With two scores already in, Jason Bergmann replaced Mock in that 6th frame and shut down a one out, 1st and 3rd potential huge rally by San Diego. But Our Number 57 got himself into similar trouble in the top of the 7th, when he fielded a slow grounder right back to him hit by Tony Gwynn, Jr. and then--with all the time in the world--threw the ball away to Nick Johnson. Of course, Gwynn, Jr. would eventually come around and score The Padres final run of this game.

Speaking of Gwynn Jr.--why is he referred to on the scoreboard and when he comes to the plate at Nationals Park as "Tony Gwynn" and not "Tony Gwynn, Jr." Big difference. It would be like referring to Ken Griffey, Jr or Cal Ripken, Jr as simply Ken Griffey or Cal Ripken. Without Jr. added, the names represent their fathers--just like Tony Gwynn is the father of Tony Gwynn, Jr. and that reference should be made clear.

Some of San Diego's lineup I had never heard of--Everth Cabrera, Kyle Blanks, Luis Rodriguez (who slammed a solo homer and added a two run double tonight) and starter Mat Latos (apparently born in Alexandria, Virginia--but raised in Florida). With shortstop Rick Eckstein, outfielder Brian Giles and pitchers Jake Peavy & Chris Young all on The Disabled List--this just wasn't that enticing of a lineup placed on the field by San Diego Manager Bud Black. But it was good enough to defeat Our Washington Nationals.

Back in 2006, The Padres Eliezer Alfonzo played for The San Francisco Giants. Visiting RFK Stadium to take on Washington--Eliezer slammed out three home runs that weekend in two games. A difference maker during in his rookie season--Alfonzo has yet to develop into the emerging star some thought three seasons ago.

Whenever a team visits Nationals Park for the first time each season, it is always interesting to see the reaction to the salute given each night to returning and recovering wounded soldiers and veterans. Some visiting teams show a great interest and join the clapping, others not so much. The New York Mets have even visited Walter Reed Army Hospital. So have The Baltimore Orioles. This evening when the nightly tribute took place at a slightly different time--before the top of the 4th inning--the entire San Diego Padres team stopped what they were doing. Every single player and coach in their dugout jumped to the top of the steps, turned toward where the vets were situated in Presidents Club and robustly cheered them on. San Diego's Chase Headley, the next scheduled hitter, stopped swinging his bat and turned and joined in as well. With San Diego the home to a very large military contingent--The Padres response was not a surprise. One of the first teams to salute military personnel at both their original home--Jack Murphy Stadium (Qualcomm) and now Petco Park, The Marines of Camp Pendleton and The Naval Base San Diego regularly are saluted at Padres baseball games in Southern California. Like Our Washington Nationals Patriotic "DC" Jerseys, The San Diego Padres have worn "Camo" style military uniform tops in the past.

Sort of a strange Presidents Race tonight--George and Abe came rushing out of the center field gate quickly tonight, followed by Tom and Teddy--who immediately collided and fell to the warning track--never to get up again. Meanwhile, as GW & Abe headed toward the rightfield corner--George tumbled, face planting himself--leaving Abe alone with a free path to the finish line for his 23rd Victory of 2009.

Speaking of Abe--like where was he? Down on the main concourse near right centerfield in the 5th inning, I decided to head over to The Rushmore's Photo Opportunity Spot near The Exxon Kid's Zone. Few fans and kids were there taking pictures actually--but neither was Abe? So, like why wasn't he there? That's the second time this year that I personally headed over to take a photo with Our Racing Presidents and he has not been around. Sure, I will have many more opportunities--so will The African Queen, but there might be someone attending any given night wanting a photo--that may not be back to Nationals Park soon. Just saying. So Abe--you have got to be there. You really do.

Of course tonight was a Bang!! Zoom!! Go The Fireworks!! Friday evening at Nationals Park. A staple event on South Capitol Street during the baseball season.

And fnally--how ironic. You may recall how last weekend when The Chicago Cubs were in town--their 3rd Base Coach Mike Quade was the one-time 3rd Baseman for The 1982 Alexandria Dukes. Well, manning the 1st Base Coaching Box tonight for The San Diego Padres was that very same Carolina League Championship Team's Starting 2nd Baseman--Rich Renteria. The African Queen just looking at me stunned when I told her that Quade to Renteria to Nick Castanada was Alexandria's 5-4-3 Double Play Combination that fabulous one season at Four Mile Run Park. No, I am not going to forget them. They provided suburban Washington and Northern Virginia with Our Only Professional Team for a few seasons after The Washington Senators moved to Arlington, Texas following the 1971 Major League Campaign.

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