Monday, August 24, 2009

Hernan Iribarren

When Our Racing Presidents officially called out and challenged The Milwaukee Racing Sausages for not posting up for official competition at Nationals Park again at the end of the mid-4th inning race, Our Washington Nationals held a slim 1-0 lead against The Brewers. Collin Balester was pitching well, having thrown shutout ball, allowing just two hits to that point.

Then, shortly after Our Racing Presidents finished posing for pictures at the end of the 5th frame with any fan desiring at The Exxon Kids Zone, Collin Balester was left wondering what exactly hit him, as did Jason Bergmann and finally--Ron Villone? No home game this season had gone from nail biter to romp so quickly--in the opposite direction.

Just like that, it was all over. Done.

Did The Brew Crew ever unload to get things started in the top of the 6th and whittle away before one single out was recorded by Washington. Six total runs plated by Milwaukee. A turnaround game winning rally that was started by--Ryan Braun. Yes, The Power Hitter, maybe looking for redemption after being ejected yesterday for arguing and throwing his helmet at the feet of Umpire Mike Muchlinski. Ryan absolutely BLASTED OFF a two run homer DEEP INTO SECTION 104--five rows from the Center Field Plaza Walkway. A tremendous tee shot (he does have the prettiest looping swing) off his powerful bat that scored Frank Catalonatto in front of Braun and set in motion one of the worst innings of the year for Our Washington Nationals.

Our Pitching just fell apart and no matter who Interim Manager Jim Riggleman brought to the mound, it didn't help. No Brewer this frame again crushed the baseball like Ryan Braun--but three singles, two walks (one intentionally) and a force out scored the distancing runs that made this one time entertaining game--just an quick afterthought. From then on out, this affair had the true feeling of a getaway game. Yeah, get it over with--pack the bags--get on the next flight. Because when Jorge Sosa allowed YET ANOTHER home run (his 5th in 17.1 innings pitched--pretty amazing actually), what was left of the 17,805 headed for the exits in droves.

All which left The African Queen and I just chatting, talking about things, and hoping for that miracle comeback. No, sorry, not to be, but became far more entertaining when The Brewers' Manager--Ken Macha--sent Hernan Iribarren to the plate. Now there is your household name. This Venezuelan had pinch hit in the previous three games of this four game set. And the lefty swinging batter was now being given a fourth chance late this afternoon.

Great for us because WE LOVE HIS NAME. Hernan Iribarren!! What a moniker. That Pen Name right up there with our other favorite baseball player name of ALL TIME--Jarrod Saltalamacchia. One time Atlanta Brave and now Texas Ranger. Famous in Our Hearts for showing up at RFK Stadium for The Brav-Os in 2007 with a jersey that displayed his last name from halfway down the leftside of the uniform back and looped above the numbers to halfway down the rightside of that very same jersey.

The longest last name in Major League History that was so big the small video board on East Capitol Street COULD NOT complete his entire given family name. The same which held true in 2008 at Nationals Park when Saltalamacchia played for The Texas Rangers.

Yes, this afternoon and early evening came down to the simple things. Enjoying a young man named Hernan Iribarren that now plays baseball for The Milwaukee Brewers. The very team that just defeated DC's team in three out of four games.

Love That Name!!

Final Score from Nationals Park after one the most exhausting weeks in franchise history--Strasburg, Rizzo, Introductory Press Conferences, Picnic In The Park, Blogger Day & Seven Home Games--The Milwaukee Brewers 7 and Our Washington Nationals 1. The 81st defeat of 2009 confirmed what so many had realized already. Yeah, we are not going to finish near .500 this season. But at least all was not lost this past week. Progress was made and Hernan Iribarren showed up on South Capitol Street helping to make a rather mundane loss far more entertaining.

Let's see now if Washington can re-group on the upcoming western swing to Chicago, St. Louis and Beautiful San Diego (Our Other Favorite City) and return home Labor Day weekend with some more Curly "W's" In The Book. What are the chances of avoiding 100 losses for a second straight year?

Game Notes & Highlights

Collin Balester really looked solid through five complete. He had faced just four above the minimum, but just as quickly as Catalonatto doubled leading off the 6th and Braun homered to left, our Number 40 just lost steam and command. The harbinger of things to come when neither Bergmann nor Villone could stop the Milwaukee rally before it was too late. The top of the 6th was the ball game and Our Washington Nationals let it get out of hand.

Jorge Sosa must throw one of the flatest fastballs in the game. How else can so many be teeing off on him?

Throwing in the low-90's, The Brewers Yovani Gallardo was all over the place. He walked four Nats Batters but gave up just four hits in five innings complete. But when a hard thrower tosses 108 pitches of which only 62 were strikes--it was a good sign that Our Washington Nationals were getting themselves out this day.

None probably did that more than Alberto Gonzalez.

Our Number 12, removed in a double switch during the pivotal 6th frame, did not help himself by striking out looking with the bases loaded to end the bottom of the 3rd (swinging at the very first two pitches thrown his way after Gallardo had just loaded the bases) and flying out to right to end the 5th--stranding Ryan Zimmerman at third base. Despite five free passes allowed by Milwaukee pitching and six base hits, not a lot of offense from Washington this day. In fact, DC's only run scored on a fielder's choice. A botched double play by The Brewers in the bottom of the second inning that plated Willie Harris. Wil Nieves hustling to first to break up the possible DP and getting his 18th RBI on the year.

The Fake Milwaukee Sausages came out running again early this evening but were eventually run down by Our Racing Presidents as all eight participants turned for the home stretch at the rightfield foul pole. Tom winning again going away before all four Rushmores displayed their challenge sign to The Real Milwaukee Sausages.

And finally, when Our Washington Nationals return in September for the final 15 Home Games of 2009, what in world should The African Queen and I do after the schedule is complete? It just all of sudden hit us today. The season is nearly over. We are not into The Washington Redskins or The Washington Wizards, although The Washington Capitals are usually entertaining for us two to three times per season.

Maybe, we will take a real vacation this fall? Something we haven't done since Our Washington Nationals arrived in Washington, D.C. in 2005. All our travel over these past years has been business or baseball related. In fact, the last time we really got away was Fall, 2004. And we were in Santa Barbara, California the very day Major League Baseball announced The Montreal Expos were moving to The Nation's Capital. The morning after in which I bought The USA Today & Washington Post Newspapers out west and paraded around the main streets of Santa Barbara--on the water there--and showed everybody that would listen to me that MY HOMETOWN WAS AGAIN A MAJOR LEAGUE TOWN!!

Californians thought I was crazy. Sohna knew better.

True story. Just ask The African Queen. We still have the newspapers with Mayor Anthony Williams and Council Chair Jack Evans sporting red Curly "W" Caps. One of the best Redemption Days Of My Life!!

Tonight's InGame Photos--Charles Dharapak (AP)
All Other Photos--Nats320--All Rights Reserved


An Briosca Mor said...

I really liked the 4:35 start time yesterday. I come in from Fairfax County so I did have to take off work early, but it was nice not to have to deal with rush hour traffic either on the way in or on the way out. Of course the lovely pre-fall weather helped a lot too, as maybe it wouldn't have felt quite so nice had it been 95 and humid. But The Nats ought to think about playing more games with a late afternoon start. Happy Hour Games! Seems like it would be especially convenient for those who work in the city. I'm surprised more people didn't come out for it yesterday.

SenatorNat said...

Nats on track to win 55 games or so. I do not think that Riggles will win the necessary 60 needed to guarantee his job. Anything less than 55 and he will not return. At 59, equal to Manny in 2008, the injury season, he has slighty better than 50-50 chance of returning. Close to 55 or below, do not bet on it. Over 60, and he will get a two year contract almost certainly.

Nats' Dunn and Zimmerman, barring injury, on track for career years, and most will view the tandem as the reason: thus, Rizzo should offer extension to Dunn, since he has manned first base surprisingly well.

Nats stockpiled pitching since Lerner bought team, and before: Mock, Chico, Balester, Detwiler, Lannan, Zimmermann, Clippard, Bergmann, Stammen, Martin, Martis. Of this group, it appears that Lannan is a solid Number 3 or 4 on excellent staff, Zimmermann a Number 2 or 3 when healthy; Stammen has potential to be solid middle reliever to go with Clippard. Detwiler perhaps could be a Number 4 or 5 on excellent staff. The rest are disposable. Thus, stockpiling works ONLY if the scouting is superb as it was for Zimmermann. Truth is: Nats have made precious little progress this year beyond Zimmermann - the year has been a giant bust in terms of young pitchers breaking onto the scene - the last 37 games v. teams like Dodgers, Phillies, Marlins, Cardinals should make it even more clear how little brass can rely on going into 2010 in terms of pitching.

Were we to know that Olsen could return to his prime form, then you could pencil him in for 2010, along with Lannan, and go after two expensive free agents, and hope that Stammen and/or Detwiler would come through until Strasburg is ready. But, should Olsen be shot, and there is virtually no mention of him by Nats, then team has a hole in the rotation even after signing up two good starters for big money, relatively speaking. They still need a top-notch reliever or two as well to be competitive.

I would save some free agency money by moving Guz to second and having Gonzo play short and bat 8th - go after Matt Holiday, making him a premium offer instead. Then, you could bat him 5th and move Willingham to 6th - very solid line-up overall, with Flores returning.

With four pitchers and Holiday, team payroll of $75 million (tops) would mean a team which could play .500, translating into 2.25 million fans, some half a million more than this season - self sustaining. Recall that by dropping Cabrera, Young, Kearns, Belliard, Johnson from payroll, team saves $23.5 million - add Stasburg's $9 million total for 2010, still nets out to $14.5 million for Holiday plus one pitcher. Then, spend up to $20 million more for three more pitchers and a utility infielder.

Fast Eddie: "yeah - spend our $20 million net annual return - no way!" Answer - you had better, since these young pitchers ain't going to deliver just because the numbers say they should.

Trust in casting some bread on the water. All Necessary.

Unknown said...

I think the best part about this game is that Zimmerman and Nieves both stole a base.