Sunday, August 09, 2009

All The Right Answers

What was important to understand and take from this afternoon's final game of what became a tremendous six game home stand at Nationals Park--is that every single time Our Washington Nationals were challenged--they found all the right answers. Right from the very beginning-- just three pitches into the start of this balmy and hot Sunday afternoon affair--The Arizona Diamondbacks had sent their first dare when their leadoff hitter, Trent Oeltjen, blasted out a solo homer into Washington's Bullpen off J.D. Martin.

The early strike against a rookie Washington pitcher (J.D. Martin) needing a confidence boost. Provided by Adam Dunn, just seven batters later for DC's Team, when he hammered out his 30th Home of 2009. A high arcing two run shot into the first rows of the scoreboard walk seats in right centerfield plating Ryan Zimmerman before him. Snake threat nullified--The Bang!! Zoom!! Of The Fireworks!! scaring off the the sharp fanged predators. While the BROAD smile witnessed on Zimmy's face greeting Our Number 44 telling--of a DC team now understanding they can not be put down easily.

No, not anymore. No, not even with snakes in the house.

Incredibly, there were to be no snakebites on the premises this day. Just some nuisance sightings. Every time The Diamondbacks attempted to swing their unruly heads, they were set back.

Cases in point.

When Oeltjen again attempted to brew trouble by singling with two outs in the top of the 2nd--Josh Bard cut him down on a attempted steal of 2nd base. Immediately, this inning ending out was followed by Washington doubling their advantage when The Z-Man drilled a leadoff double into the left centerfield gap, moved to 3rd on a wild pitch from Yusmeiro Petit and scored (after Josh Willingham was picked off 1st base) when Elijah Dukes began his fine day at the plate with a scorching liner just to the right of Arizona's Mark Reynolds that caromed off his glove and into left field.

Yes, Pest Control was containing any possible damage today. And The Snakes didn't really have a chance. They never wiggled freely.

Even when J.D. Martin got into trouble allowing a two out single and walk in the top of the 4th--Our Number 60 didn't let loose of his concentration. Was reminded of just that by Pitching Coach Steve McCatty--who visited him on the mound. And Martin didn't give in to the powerful Chad Tracy. Eventually retiring the Arizona Slugger on a routine fly to Nyjer Morgan in centerfield.

Mini-crisis averted, Diamondbacks scurrying and then truly taken advantage of when SPEED manufactured a run--all with two outs. Nyjer Morgan has transformed the top of our batting lineup since being acquired from The Pittsburgh Pirates. And this one particular romp around the bases in the bottom of the 4th--perfectly explained his importance. Our Number 1 looped a single to left with two outs--then proceeded to steal his 35th stolen base off Petit. Then, knowing he was going to get a steady diet of fastballs from Yusmeiro because of the very real belief Nyjer would scamper to 3rd--"The Guz" waited for just that and RIPPED a hard smash directly at Reynolds--again manning 3rd base. Reflex action only by The Snake's fielder--and Mark did pick up the baseball--but Cristian runs just as hard, maybe not as fast as Morgan, yet quickly enough for Our Number 15 to hustle down the line to first base--causing worry. Now pressed, Mark Reynolds hurred his throw and it scooted high and wide of the Arizona 1st Baseman Tracy and down the first base line for a run scoring error.

Our Washington Nationals had answered again with two players--both using their god gifted running abilities--to scamper through and around The Snakes Nest for tally number four. Answering again, DC's Team had defied the challenge and beat the odds ON A HARD HIT BUT ROUTINE GROUNDER. Hustle had increased the score to 4-1.

A three run advantage, sort of in doubt, when Martin got into a most serious predicament. Snakes on 2nd and 3rd with nobody out in the top of the 5th and yet J.D. found the gumption, that fighting spirit to turn a bad situation into something good. In fact, these next three outs to easily become the finest he has ever pitched in his short Major League Career. First, getting a foul pop up from Pinch Hitter Josh Whitesell to Ryan Zimmerman near third base for out number one. Then, Oeltjen, who had owned Martin in his first two at-bats, hit a pitch right back to Our Number 60 for out number two. And finally, J.D. Martin receiving a standing ovation from the majority of the 19,938 on hand on South Capitol Street, when he induced Ryan Roberts to ground out to Alberto Gonzalez at second base to end the latest Arizona threat.

With different pest control experts warming up in Our Washington Nationals Bullpen, J.D. Martin realized he needed to answer the call himself. He wanted his first Major League Win. Giving in to The Snakes would have ruined his day. Career Victory Number One which was again in trouble in the top of the 6th--when the sometimes overpowering and electric Tyler Clippard replaced Martin, and immediately ran out of his "no nonsense" pesticides--probably from overwork these past two weeks. Because after walking the first two hitters faced that frame, Manager Jim Riggleman had seen enough and called on a new exterminator. One named Jason Bergmann.

He of the tremendous stuff. The ability to challenge, stifle and retire most any hitter in the game. As it turned out--Snake Removal now a part of his resume. As quickly as Tyler Clippard got into trouble--Our Number 57 ran The Arizona Diamondbacks right out of Our House. Tracy retired on a fly ball and Bergmann getting the perfect inning ending double play grounder when Chris Snyder hit a smash to Zimmy's left. Ryan Zimmerman retrieved the ball--underhand scooped to Alberto Gonzalez at 2nd Base. And with Mark Reynolds barrelling down on him--Our Number 12 executed The Perfect two legged leap into the air--avoiding the take out--and firing to Adam Dunn for that all important third out and The Defensive Play Of This Game!!

Bergmann fist pumping--thanking The Z-Man. The Crowd standing and roaring in delight. Against all odds--The Snakes latest provocation had been eliminated--yet again.

Whatever The Arizona Diamondbacks spewed at Our Washington Nationals this afternoon--it didn't paralyze. Their fangs never really sinking in. And just about everyone was trying to get into the act for Our Nationals. Washington Rookie Jorge Padilla struck for his very first Major League Hit today keeping a rally going and leading to Washington's 5th run when "The Guz"--Yes Cristian Guzman--walked with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 6th off Leo Rosales scoring Josh Bard. Even when rubber armed Ron Villone got into trouble--Jorge Sosa got the call. Lead Pest Control Expert Riggleman showing from the very first days of his full-time management, that if one of our guys can not perform effectively--he's not going to stick with them.

There is always someone else.

Playing no favorites--Our Number 5 just keeps on interchanging his given parts--until he finds the combination which works for that particular day. Maneuvering which has benefited Washington's play on the field these past 25 games. Not even Arizona's Mark Reynolds' 35th Home of 2009 off "Jesus Colome, Jr." in the top of the 8th would change today's outcome. For Our Washington Nationals answered back yet again by placing four more tallies on the board--all but extinguishing any Snake possibility of gaining ground.

Any further chance of taking over Our House.

Final Score from Nationals Park where, and let's be honest, the unthinkable happened this week--Our Washington Nationals 9 and The Arizona Diamondbacks 2. No one in their right mind expected eight consecutive wins. Nor, for DC's Team to rip off eight straight victories on South Capitol Street. But Curly "W" Number 40 against 72 Losses sent The African Queen and I home as happy as we have been all season. There is nothing like winning. And The Bang!! Zoom!! Of The Fireworks!! signaling how Washington really came prepared today. With Our House Full Of Snakes--Nationals Park was cleaned out of any infestation. Our Washington Nationals made all the right moves this Sunday Afternoon. In fact, all weekend, they had All The Right Answers.

A second consecutive three game sweep--first of The Fish, now The Snakes. 14 & 11 under Interim Manager Jim Riggleman. 14 & 6 since losing their first five games after Our Former Manager Manny Acta was relieved of duty as The All-Star Break commenced. Really this past week, and really these past two weeks, have been quite remarkable for DC Baseball. The Hottest Team in Major League Baseball represents The Nation's Capital. They are not going to win anything this year, but for the first time, in a long time, you can actually see the emergence of what talent is actually on The 25-Man Roster. And what needs to be tweaked, added, or reduced--to give Washington a winning team in the near future.

No question about it--in the past two weeks--NatsTown is a HappyTown.

Game Notes & Highlights

J.D. Martin pitched out of an important jam in the 5th inning. He got stung by Trent Oeltjen's leadoff homer in the 1st and he was saved mightily by Jason Bergmann. But overall, Our Number 60 was deserved of receiving the Shaving Cream Pie in the face from John Lannan after locking up his very first Major League Victory. For five frames--he did well--allowing five hits and one walk and just that one earned run. J.D. Martin doesn't throw hard, but at least today, he was spotting his pitches around the plate--effectively so. He better be treating Bergmann to a drink or dinner for his thankful support, this coming road trip to Atlanta.

Jorge Sosa with his second save in as many days. Haven't quite figure out whether he's a keeper or not. But after his shaky start in Pittsburgh on August 2nd, Sosa had pitched shutout ball in each of his next four appearances until allowing Reynolds solo home run in the top of the 8th frame.

16 base hits today by Washington. Every starter getting at least one. Not only did Padilla slap his first Major League hit, but so did J.D. Martin with a single in the 2nd inning. Look at these numbers:

Nyjer Morgan--two hits, two stolen bases, two runs, one rbi. "The Guz"--two hits, one run, one rbi. Ryan Zimmerman--three hits, three runs scored. Adam Dunn--Home Run Number 30, RBI Numbers 83 & 84. Elijah Dukes--two hits, three rbi. Even Alberto Gonzalez with two hits and one run scored. Another Complete Team Effort in the field and at the plate. Three double plays turned by Washington.

Tom came out of Centerfield Gate storming this afternoon. Well ahead of the pack, Tom seemed destined for victory--only to pull a leg muscle and collapse on the warning track near the rightfield line. Sensing opportunity--Teddy took advantage, sprinted into the lead, but alas, failed again--when Abe turned on The AfterBurners to win going away.

And finally--as The African Queen and I entered Nationals Park this afternoon--we ran straight into the debut of "The NatMobile". A specially converted Panel Truck which will head out into the surrounding area for various concerts, football tailgates, festivals, school functions, community events, little league games, malls, street fairs--you name it--"The NatMobile" is coming to your part of the Greater Washington D.C. area soon. The Curly "W" and NatsTown painted Vehicle will also be involved in Nationals players signing events, as well as, Meet & Greets with My Best Friend!! Screech and Our Racing Presidents.

Ray, one of The NatMobile's Tour Guides took Sohna and I on a personal tour--which so happened to coincide with Principal Owner Mark Lerner taking his first peek at the new Get Around Vehicle. We have to tell you--it's pretty cool!! Very well done.

For questions or requests for "The NatMobile" to visit your venue--email: Tell them--The African Queen sent you. Or, call Ray personally on The NatPhone: 202-640-7670. Tell him--SBF told you to call. Ray's awaiting your inquiries. He's pretty excited about this project too!!

Just don't request "The NatMobile" to go to Philadelphia or anywhere near Citizens Bank Park. It might not last one day in that venue. (Just having fun with The Phillies & their Fans)

Today's InGame Photos--Luis M. Alvarez (AP)
All Other Photos--Nats320--All Rights Reserved


SenatorNat said...

Nats quietly working on unloading payroll for 2010 in anticipation of signing Strasburg. D.Young; Kearns; Cabrera; Belliard; N.Johnson; and in all likelihood Guzman, would total about $24 million, which is what I have been predicting will be Strasburg's signing bonus.

Then, Rizzo becomes GM, and Riggleman manager, with two year deals, both relatively inexpensive, team draws 1.85 million or so, and they plan on 2 million for 2010 for budgeting, setting total payroll at $60 million tops for 2010. This would permit signing a shortstop like Jack Wilson, one veteran starter, one reliever, and one utility guy. Team will be geared to have Lannan, Zimmermann (please Dr. Andrews!), Olsen, veteran, and a fifth from among Mock, Ballester, Stammen, J.D. Marten, and Detwiler. Team anxious to have Drew Storen here in 2010 to set up Mac, probably.

Current line-up with Jack Wilson batting second, and Flores seventh, looks good going into 2010. But, consider that Z, Dunn, Willingham all healthy and having career years. Tough to repeat that a second year, but not impossible.

Pitching, as always, still key, and team has a ways to go yet to get those five super arms pitching together to fulfill The Plan.

Stan takes vacation, and team gets red hot. All relaxed.

John R. said...

Trading or giving away .317 hitting shortstops and replacing them with .266 hitting shortstops doesn't impress me. I don't even think the Lerners save any money with a Jack Wilson-type, at least according to salaries published at BaseballReference,com

An Briosca Mor said...

Stan takes vacation, and team gets red hot. All relaxed.

Stan's not on vacation. He's on the west coast meeting with Boras, according to reports. Either that, or working with designers to produce SenatorNat's iconic baseball out of papier mache, so as not to bust the player budget.