Tuesday, May 04, 2010


While The African Queen and I were a little under the weather recovering from colds, Our Washington Nationals put on a feverish display of baseball tonight at Nationals Park.

Like when Livan Hernandez needed 41 pitches to retire The Atlanta Braves in the top of the very 1st inning. Not only did this half frame take nearly 30 minutes to play, but when Ole Number 61 left the mound after the final out was recorded-- he threw his arms up in the air--and probably was wondering how in the world did he NOT allow more than one run?

Certainly everyone watching in the stands was wondering too.

Because that was sick--almost unbelievable--how Livan Hernandez never ceases to amaze.

Sick would also be the proper definition of a spectacular Roger Bernadina catch in the top of the 3rd inning that saved Livo from further damage. With Washington up 2-1 and Chipper Jones on 3rd Base with two outs--Troy Glaus HAMMERS a liner into right centerfield. One of those screaming baseballs that could burn a hole into a fielder's glove. No one in the park could have possibly believed what was to come. As the all but certain tying run was set to score, Bernadina set sail across the outfield--moving from his left to right attempting to cut off the angle of the ball. And it appeared as if he had no shot at the baseball.

Yet, Roger did not give up on it and with the crowd watching intently--Our Number 2 dove head first across the grass with a leaping last second dive. And after that split second decision, it really looked like Bernadina was going to miss the baseball after all. Not that he hadn't gone the proper distance--but because the fast moving baseball was already almost past him. With Roger Bernadina spread out prone flying through the air--he somehow lifted his glove hand--on his right hand--above his head--and while crashing to the ground--snared the baseball for The Defensive Play Of This Game!!

That catch was sick too!! One that probably put The Braves under the weather themselves, as few catches have been prettier this season.

A deafening roar erupted among the 17,098 in attendance. Appreciation for a defensive job well done. Livan Hernandez clapping profusely and pointing to his teammate while walking off the field. Ryan Zimmerman stopping at the top of the home dugout and slamming gloves with Roger Bernadina. Our Man With Golden Glove knows a little about defensive gems. And Our Number 11 well knew--he had just witnessed a Gold Glove Caliber Catch!!

Of course, only a sick Livan Hernandez could also toss a total of 123 pitches over 5.1 innings--allow just two runs--and leave with the lead to a standing ovation while still believing he had enough left in his rather large tank to go the distance. That's Livo and that's why he's beloved so much.

Adam Dunn can also make an opposing pitcher sick by standing at the plate and hammering a delivered pitch so deep into night--the ill effects might make the thrower hurl. This evening, his intimidating stance got the best of Atlanta Reliever Eric O'Flaherty--who served up a off-speed pitch to Our Number 44 in the bottom of the 6th that Dunn flat out CRUSHED into the Scoreboard Walk Seats below the HDTV Scoreboard. If The Braves were queasy before with Bernadina's catch, they had to be downright nauseated after watching Adam's 5th home run of the season. Atlanta Manager Bobby Cox had called for just what the doctor ordered--a lefty on lefty matchup. The written by the book prescription that had no ill effects on Adam's potent swing.

A lights out blast in the 6th inning which co-insided with The HDTV Screen and Ribbon Boards throughout Nationals Park getting sick themselves. A complete electronic blackout that had everyone wondering from the top of the 6th frame--what's the count? How many are out? And also proved--many fans don't know how to cheer--unless prompted. Outside of Dunn's homer, South Capitol Street was mostly quiet until the HDTV Screen & Ribbons Boards re-appeared during the 7th inning stretch. The P.A. started announcing balls/strikes and outs in the 7th. But whatever illness was affecting the electronics tonight--reappeared again in the 8th and lasted for most of remaining portions of this game.

That lingering effect which Tyler Clippard and Matt Capps have had over opposing batters in 2010. Clippard and Capps with their continuing lights out work this evening. The Atlanta Braves getting their first taste why every team that has played Washington so far this year is getting sick and tired of seeing "No Nonsense" Clippard and "Cardiac" Capps.

Especially when The Z-Man makes one sick short hop scoop of a sharply hit ground ball by Troy Glaus in the top of the 9th and swiftly begins the game ending double play--Alberto Gonzalez to Adam Kennedy--and curtails Atlanta's final rally. That's enough fine plays in one evening to make anyone's opponent not just ill--but sick.

Final Score from Nationals Park where The African Queen and I posted up not feeling the best, but left feeling a whole lot better: Our Washington Nationals 6 and The Atlanta Braves 3. Curly "W" Number 14 will be remembered for Washington not only remaining above .500 at 14-12, but for D.C.'s Team making every big play when they needed it the most. And The Bang!! Zoom!! Of The Fireworks!! signaling there is nothing better than in beating your competition while taking away all of their advantages.

If not feeling well is the definition of being sick, there is no way The Atlanta Braves left Nationals Park this evening in anything less than a debilitated state because Our Washington Nationals played a type of baseball game that was nothing short of excellent. And in slang terms that's described as SICK.

Game Notes & Highlights

After throwing 41 pitches in the very first inning, few probably thought Livan Hernandez would make it to the 6th inning, in the lead, and still on the mound. Twice The Braves loaded the bases against him during that initial frame. And Roger Bernadina made a key error when he dropped a liner off the bat of Martin Prado. Yet still--Livan Hernandez sauntered to the dugout having only allowed one run on a sacrifice fly by Troy Glaus (unearned). And later an absolute blast of a home run off the bat of Jason Heyward--Atlanta's fast rising rookie sensation in the 4th. Other than that--typical numbers for Ole Number 61: five hits, five walks, one strikeout. Livo now sporting a 4-1 personal record and 0.99 ERA.

When Livan was walking from the bullpen after pre-game warmups, he stopped to give a baseball to a fan. And he took in the applause as many along the first base side stood and cheered as he walked passed.

Having not seen a tremendous amount of action as Tyler Clippard ascended to the set-up role, Sean Burnett relieved Hernandez and pitched one full inning of solid baseball. Burnett struck out two and was pretty sharp, eventually handing the ball over to Clippard--who was again in control for 1.2 innings. Matt Capps had to relieve a struggling Miguel Batista in the 9th to earn his 11th save of 2010 in as many opportunities.

Speaking of Clippard, the new edition of Nationals Inside Pitch--the free program and scorecard given out at each entry gate--features a terrific picture of Our Number 36 on the cover. In fact, The Inside Pitch front covers for all three homestands so far in 2010--far outdistance the $5 Game Program sold by the vendors with Jason Marquis on the cover. Hands down--no comparison.

Josh Willingham, Ian Desmond & Adam Dunn each hit solo home runs. Willingham (2nd inning) & Desmond (5th inning) off Kenshin Kawakami & Dunn's (6th inning) off Flaherty. Desmond knocked in Pudge Rodriguez in the 2nd on a rbi single. Cristian Guzman singled home Justin Maxwell (who had singled and advanced to 2nd) in the 7th. And Washington scored their 6th and final run when Roger Bernadina grounded a fast rolling dribbler between the pitcher's mound and 1st base. Atlanta's Troy Glaus picked up the ball, but no one covered first and Willy Taveras (pinch running for Adam Dunn who had walked) scored easily from third. Taveras had moved up on another Rodriguez single.

Washington's 6th, 7th & 8th hitters (Pudge, Bernadina & Desmond) all had two hits apiece. So did "The Guz".

When Livan was in trouble in the 1st inning with the bases loaded, Troy Glaus slammed his deep fly to dead centerfield that Nyjer Morgan appeared at first to have all the way. Atlanta was going to score easily on a sacrifice fly. But as Our Number 1 ran and ran and ran even farther--the stroked baseball still kept sailing. With the ball just about to fly over Nyjer's head, he leaped up and outward--toward the centerfield wall and caught the baseball just as it was about to get past him. The Defensive Play Of This Game on any night that Roger Bernadina doesn't work his defensive magic in the 3rd.

Atlanta's Jason Heyward--incidentally--has a batting stance and style very similar to The Phillies Ryan Howard. Knees bent, holds bat out to get set. And both have tremendous power.

Before tonight's game, it was revealed that John Lannan has felt discomfort in his left throwing elbow since April 21st. And as a precaution, Our Washington Nationals will skip him in their starting rotation and give him a cortisone shot. This is a development worth watching closely over the next few weeks.

Before the start of tonight's game, Sohna and I had dinner at The Red Porch while watching batting practice. The first time this season we've been to the popular In-Stadium Restaurant. Salads were our choices from the menu. The African Queen's Southwest Steak Salad was pretty good (a little spicy and a decent amount of steak). My Turkey Cobb salad was OK--nothing special. Both were decent sized meals for $13 & $11 respectively. The service could be a little faster though.

While at The Red Porch, we ran into a fellow season ticket holder we haven't seen all year--Madonna McGovern. Madonna also displaying Tuesday's giveaway: a gray NatsTown tee-shirt.

Teddy & George tackled Abe nearing the finish line during the 4th inning Presidents Race. Tom then took the honors for his 5th victory of 2010.

When the HDTV Scoreboard was working tonight--there was a new twist to videos highlighting Washington players when they come to bat. Now, the video is displayed inside the seams of a baseball. And facsimile autographs are included during the brief presentation as the batter steps to the plate. Very nice actually.

And finally, Sohna and I were saddened to hear that Hall Of Famer and long time Detroit Tigers Broadcaster Ernie Harwell had succumbed to cancer and passed away at 92 years of age. If you happened to watch Frank Deford's heart wrenching and loving interview with Mr. Harwell on HBO's Real Sports last fall--you would come to realize that Ernie was not only a great man--but a brave man as well.

Tonight's InGame Photos--Cliff Owen (AP)
All Other Photos--Nats320--All Rights Reserved

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