Saturday, September 05, 2009

The Tortoise & The Hare

With The Hare--Nyjer Morgan--at the top of the lineup--Our Washington Nationals were aggressive, jumping out to early leads--being the jackrabbit and pacesetter in most every game since he was acquired from The Pittsburgh Pirates. Now, out for the season with a broken hand, Our Number 1's loss has transformed DC's Team into a tortoise. The slow moving base to base team that struggled earlier this season to score runs.

One that needs to slug it out with an opponent in order to win. A nightly chore which The Florida Marlins have always taken to heart.

No, Aesop's Fable this is not--because Our Washington Nationals have been unable to win any games since Nyjer went down. And while slow and steady may well be the moral of that famous fantasy, slow and unable to deliver in the clutch was the lesson taught this evening.

Yeah--The Florida Marlins jumped out to that early four run lead playing hare themselves while Garrett Mock had nothing in the tank for Washington--seemingly left behind at the starting gate. And despite the very fact that his teammates from Our Washington Nationals played tortoise by slowly but surely fighting their way back into the game--never could they push across the tying and go ahead runs--even when they loaded up the bases twice in the 5th and 7th. Washington, on the cusp of making fantasy come true many times, could not plate the necessary runs at any moment--including the 8th with runners on 1st and 3rd and just one out.

Elijah Dukes striking out on three pitches with the bases jammed and one out in the 5th. Josh Bard following and grounding out to 1st base to end the big threat. Bard again--striking out in the 7th with two outs and Nationals standing on every base. Adam Dunn finishing off Washington's last and final attempt to win this race--striking out to end that 8th frame.

Switching roles, the hare, know as The Florida Marlins tonight never relinquished that early lead. But like the famous Fable, The Fish did mock and ridicule DC's Team all night--just like they have in dominating and winning 22 of the past 28 meetings between these two N.L. East Rivals. Teasing Our Nats into believing their hard fought challenge from behind could actually be overcome and won. Yet at the end of this very long 3 Hour & 45 Minute marathon, that tortoise now known as Our Washington Nationals learned a fresh lesson from another well known adage: You reap what you sow--everything that happens to you is the result of your very own actions.

Fantasy those words are not. Neither would luck rule the evening. The realities of the moment leading to loss number 89 in 135 games played.

Final Score from Nationals Park were Aesop's Fable--The Tortoise & The Hare played out to an alternate ending: The Florida Marlins 9 and Our Washington Nationals 6. Losers of seven straight games, Washington just could not put it all together this evening. The middle of Washington's Lineup combining for nine hits, five runs and four rbi but Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Dunn, Josh Willingham and Elijah Dukes found out their combined strength could not provide the necessary power to post that Curly "W" In The Books. Because the top of our lineup no longer has the necessary tablesetter. Baseball is a total team game and The Hare which makes that Tortoise known as Our Washington Nationals move in a positive direction was not in the ballpark.

Game Notes & Highlights

After a handful of promising starts in August by Garrett Mock, he reverted this evening to what he had shown in late July upon his latest call up from AAA--hittable and unable to get decisive outs. When you only last three innings and allow six runs on seven hits (two home runs allowed to Jorge Cantu & John Baker) and one walk over 81 pitches--you are not throwing well. And Interim Manager Jim Riggleman realized that and immediately went to his bullpen when Our Washington Nationals swatted themselves back into this game over the second and third frames. But unfortunately Saul Rivera wasn't the stabilizer tonight either--allowing three runs over 2.2 innings before Jason Bergmann was called on in the bottom of the 5th to shut the down The Marlins latest rally. Effort which Jorge Sosa, Tyler Clippard and Mike MacDougal followed and combined to pitch shutout and no hit baseball for the remainder of this game.

Starting pitching was not strong for either team tonight. Florida's Sean West was equally as ineffective. Also lasting just three innings, giving up five runs on seven hits and one walk. But his bullpen was more effective when Washington was mounting their potential tying or go ahead rallies. Burke Badenhop pitching out of one serious bases loaded one out jam in the 5th and Kiko Calero doing the same in the 7th. Leo Nunez picking up his 18th save for The Florida Marlins this year.

The Florida Marlins shot out to the 1st inning three run lead--thanks to Nats Killer, Hanley Ramirez's RBI single followed by Jorge Cantu's two run homer to left. An early three run lead, upped to four in the 2nd when Nick Johnson--yes Our Former Nicky--blooping a single to left scoring Cameron Maybin--who had tripled off the Out Of Town Scoreboard in right. The Fish adding extra runs all evening just after Washington would fail to plate the tying or go ahead runs.

Alberto Gonzalez drove a triple to left center off the green padded wall in the bottom of the 2nd off West that scored Washington's first two runs by Adam Dunn and Elijah Dukes. Ryan Zimmerman then JUST MISSED a home run with a serious drive to right center in the bottom of the 3rd off West. Another resultant triple and two out rally meaningful when Adam Dunn singled off Nick Johnson's glove to score Our Number 11 and Josh Willingham followed with a no doubt blast to left field for his 22nd Home Run and 58th & 59th RBI's of the season. Washington, despite all their chances in the 5th, 7th and 8th could only muster one more tally when The Z-Man singled to right plating Gonzalez with what turned out to be Washington's final score of the evening in the 8th.

Although no defensive gems, Adam Dunn did make two fine efforts to dive to his right tonight, stop hard hit baseballs and throw over to the pitcher covering first base to record outs. Our Number 44 may never be a slick fielder or Gold Glove Winner as an infielder, but he's getting better at making more than the routine play. That's a good sign. Dunn with three hits tonight, all singles with two runs scored and one RBI (his 92nd--one in front of Zimmerman for the team lead).

Josh Bard was 0-5 and left 10 runners on base. Twice he came to the plate with the bases loaded and did not get a hit. Striking out three times, Bard didn't help the cause this evening. And makes you wish Jesus Flores was 100% healthy. If Our Number 3 was ready to go--the outcome of this game might have been a completely different story. Flores activated today back to the active roster. Not expected to catch at all this September, Jesus will be given selective pinch hit assignments to slowly work his way back into game shape for 2010.

And as much as Washington misses Nyjer Morgan, September is the time for ball clubs not in the pennant chase to find out if some of their youngsters down on the farm have the necessary stuff to be Major Leaguers. Skill which Justin Maxwell must take advantage of these next three weeks if playing in a Nationals Uniform for a prolonged portion of his career will continue in 2010.

After the game this evening, Our Washington Nationals announced Craig Stammen and Collin Balester are done for the season. Stammen to have surgery on a bone spur in his right pitching elbow. A diganosis, procedure and recovery that will take six weeks to heel. Ending Craig's Season, but setting himself up to be 100% for Spring Training 2010. Balester has a rib strain on his left side that takes two weeks to heel, basically ending his season as well. Expect Ross Detwiler and Shairon Martis to be recalled once the AAA Season concludes.

Tonight was Military Appreciation Night at Nationals Park. The United States Marine Corp was honored during Pre-Game Ceremonies and nine Marines took the field as The Starting Lineup with Our Washington Nationals wearing their "DC" Patriotic Blue Uniforms. The USMC Recruiters were on hand passing out information and attempting to get fans to do chin-ups on a bar placed in Center Field Plaza.

Being Roberto Clemente Night at Nationals Park, various videos were shown throughout the game to describe the person that The Pittsburgh Pirate Great was--both on the field and off. And Washington's John Lannan was honored before the game as DC's Nominee for The Roberto Clemente Award--given to one Major League Player each year who best represents Roberto's dreams of excellence--on the field, off the field, and in the community.

The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation is selling their $5 Shirts Off Their Back Raffle Tickets for the Sunday, September 27th Giveaway of at least 32 Game Worn Jerseys. You need not be present to win the raffle. Tickets can be bought at The Dream Foundation Kiosk in Center Field Plaza or at a specially set up table just under the overhang of the main concourse behind Section 108. Additionally, for Saturday September 5th when Washington takes on The Marlins--The Dream Foundation's Auctions will include a signed Frank Robinson Jersey, a Stephen Strasburg signed ball, home plate signed by Jesus Flores, Wil Nieves & Josh Bard, as well as, a 2006 Baseball Bat signed by Our Washington Nationals Team--which means autographs by Frank Robinson, Alfonso Soriano, Ryan Zimmerman, Nick Johnson & Chad Cordero--among many others. Many, many more items included--the list is very long. But if you are attending, please stop by the kiosk and check out the items up for bidding.

Teddy came out running hard in tonight's Presidents Race, but was overtaken by George and Tom who raced to the wire. George stumbled and fell OVER the finish line and Screech ruled Tom had won. A few innings later--AFTER OFFICIAL VIDEO REVIEW--My Best Friends!! decision was overturned and George won for the 18th time in 2009.

Have you noticed the Speed Pitch indicator on the HDTV Scoreboard now stays on longer than just a few seconds? We counted 10 seconds passing tonight before the sign blanked out before the next pitch. A big improvement over what seemed like just the split second the pitch speed was shown on the scoreboard in the past.

On a Get Your Red On evening--these two guys were dressed for the occasion. Later, we noticed the guy on the right was wearing blue shorts--seems security told him to put a little more clothing on.

And finally--since Our Washington Nationals didn't have a 70's Night Promotion planned for 2009, we decided to get into the spirit of things ourselves with our very own tie-dyed Nationals Tee-Shirts. We've actually had them for some time, but had never worn them before. They were quite popular with many folks this evening. Many seemed to like them. Hopefully, 70's Night will return in 2010. We really liked the one held in 2008 at Nationals Park.

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

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