Thursday, May 20, 2010

That Knack Was Lost

They somehow have a knack for hanging in there.

The fact that Adam Dunn actually stepped to the plate in the bottom of the 8th inning with the opportunity to tie up this game was a remarkable achievement by Our Washington Nationals. Down 10-1 in the top of the 6th to The New York Mets, Jim Riggleman started emptying his bench--giving some of his regulars a breather for the remainder of the night. Our Manager then witnessing Wil Nieves, Willie Harris, Mike Morse, Alberto Gonzalez and Cristian Guzman fueling a comeback--cutting the once nine run deficit to four after Ryan Zimmerman walked to force in Washington's 6th run in that 8th frame.

What was left of 23,612 cheering for D.C.'s Team, stood, pretty stunned that Our Number 44 now was at the plate--only a grand slam away from bringing this rally all the way back. Really, how was this possible after Our Washington Nationals had played one of their worst games of 2010 through the first nearly six innings of play? Poor starting pitching by Luis Atilano; a series of almost comical errors in the field--three official--two not. And a base running blunder by, of all people, Pudge Rodriguez--who got caught between 2nd and 3rd base with nobody out in the bottom of the 6th after Willie Harris had knocked in Dunn and Josh Willingham to begin Washington's Rally.

D.C.'s team was doing little right.

Yet baseball can be a strange game sometimes--and this unexpected Rally Time!! proved the point well. Our Washington Nationals, seemingly, had no right to be banging down the door of The New York Mets in the 8th after their performance over the first two/thirds of this game. Yet there Adam Dunn stood--tall in the batters box--facing Lefty Pedro Feliciano with the game back on the line. And everyone cheering for Washington was loving it.

Who wouldn't be thrilled after having witnessed what came beforehand?

"Can you imagine what this place will sound like if he hits it out of the park?--stated The African Queen. She was right, there might well have been pandemonium. And it would have been one of the greatest comebacks in team history.

Only that Yankees game at RFK in 2006, probably could rival this.

But it was not to be.

As most everyone stood and watched--Adam Dunn worked the count. Down early 0-2, he got even on Feliciano two balls later. But eventually, didn't get the pitch he needed to drive out the park. Dunn swung hard, but the result was not of the desired kind--a simple fly ball to left field taken in by The Mets Jason Bay. The rally killer that ended any more thoughts of a miracle comeback on South Capitol Street by Washington.

Final Score from Nationals Park where the home side put on a display of baseball during the first six innings which let this game get out of hand early: The New York Mets 10 and Our Washington Nationals 7. Washington get's credit for nearly getting themselves back into this game, but well before that happened, D.C.'s Team didn't get their heads into this game soon enough. Complete details coming in the Game Notes & Highlights, but there were some miscues tonight on South Capitol Street that just had your heading spinning in disbelief. Washington has played well defensively most all year. Those skill sets have kept them in most every game--until this evening. That knack was lost--at least for tonight and with it--so was this game.

Game Notes & Highlights

For really the very first time since being called up, Luis Atilano didn't have it tonight from the start. He also got no help in the top of the 1st when Ian Desmond dropped a routine fielder's choice toss to second base thrown by Adam Dunn on a ground ball hit by Ike Davis. The subsequent error loaded the bases and that proved harmful when David Wright stepped to the plate and doubled to deep right--scoring three New York runs. In the 5th, Nyjer Morgan allowed an Ike Davis drive over his head to get past him as it caromed off the wall. And Ryan Zimmerman seemed to trip over himself while attempting to field a soft blooper off the bat of Jose Reyes in the same frame. The eventual game deciding inning that resulted in The New York Mets scoring the five game distancing runs.

Atilano leaving after 4.1 innings--giving up 9 hits, three walks, seven runs, six earned. His ERA balloned to 5.06 by the time he walked to the clubhouse for the final time tonight. Tyler Walker relieved him--made a fielding error of his own and proceeded to get whacked pretty good by New York too. 1.2 innings pitched, four hits, three runs-two of which were earned. To his credit, Sean Burnett looked mighty sharp again in his top of the 9th performance. He appears to be coming around after some early season troubles.

As poorly as Washington pitched early, The Mets got a gift horse when their starter John Maine went down with an injury after just five pitches in the first inning. A walk to Nyjer Morgan. Raul Valdes replaced Maine in what became basically an emergency starting assignment and proceeded to pitch five innings of pretty solid baseball. He kept The Mets in the game when D.C.'s pitching did not. Interestingly, Valdes faced Adam Kennedy first. And when Kennedy lined a rocket right at New York Second Baseman Alex Cora--Morgan found himself way to far off base again--and was doubled off 1st base. Another base running error.

Adam Dunn, Pudge Rodriguez and Ian Desmond all had two hits apiece for Washington. Of course, this was a night of strange sightings--Pudge popped what appeared to be a routine out to right field in the bottom of the 4th--only to see New York's Jeff Francouer completely lose sight of the high flying baseball--and watch it land a good 30 feet behind him. Pudge hustling all the way to 3rd base for a triple. Yeah, it was that type of evening. One in which Willie Harris entered late and proceeded to knock in three runs in three official At-Bats.

Tonight was Force 3 Military Appreciation Night at Nationals Park. For the first time in 2010, Our Washington Nationals wore their patriotic Blue Jerseys with matching Stars & Bars "DC" logos on their uniform and caps. Camouflage Curly "W" Caps were handed out to the first 15,000 in attendance. The Air Force Honor Guard performed before the game in Center Field. And Military Salutes were given throughout the evening to the men and women of our armed forces.

Tom led from basically start to finish to win the 4th Inning Presidents Race--his 8th of the season. Teddy finished second. The Rushmores just raced tonight--no gimmicks.

And finally--isn't The Red Porch sign usually lit up during night games? It wasn't this evening. Just wondering.

Tonight's In-Game Photos--Haraz N. Ghanbari (AP)
All Other Photos Copyrighted--Nats320--All Rights Reserved

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