Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Sky Is The Limit

If you are not familiar with some of the poker terms used below--here is a glossary.

Again, the attention this afternoon was sky high.

Progressive Field the sight for Stephen Strasburg's second Major League start drawing over 32,000 to Cleveland to see D.C.'s Team take on The Indians. Baseball fans again flocking to see The Pied Piper Of Our Washington Nationals. Seemingly, no matter where this 21-Year Old young man goes to pitch off a mound these days--thousands will show up to watch him throw his well documented and hyped arsenal of pitches--including those few reaching 100 miles per hour.

Unquestionably, Stephen Strasburg was the drawing card and those fans will remember that he lasted nearly six innings, gave up a rocket liner of a homer to Travis Hafner in the 2nd inning, then showed some emotion when the mound he was working off at Progressive Field was soft--allowing for his plant foot to slide. A discomfort that directly led to five walks, put Strasburg in trouble, and resulted in a Wild Card being drawn by Jim Riggleman to save the day.

Our Manager having to play a hand of poker, checking on the difficultly dealt by The Cleveland Indians, and then raising the bet by putting another highly touted rookie into the game. Jokers are always wild and Riggleman decided to trust a trump card dealt him--Drew Storen--recently called up from AAA Syracuse.

Yeah we know, Adam Dunn powered out his 14th home run of 2010, Pudge Rodriguez provided a key rbi double--Ian Desmond the bases clearing triple--giving Washington what seemed like a commanding 6-1 lead heading to that all important bottom of the 6th frame. But Washington's 2009 1A Draft Pick (10th Overall) became the difference maker this afternoon in keeping D.C.'s Team from being swept by The Tribe. He became the key hand put into play with a full house of Indians loading the bases in that 6th frame.

Manager Jim felt compelled to remove Strasburg from this game after 5.1 innings thrown. He knew the payoff wasn't there because for the second time during the afternoon, the grounds crew had been summoned to fix the faulty mound. Just a few pitches previously, Our Number 37's left front plant leg had slid down the mound upon impact. The slow motion video on MASN showing Strasburg's left knee nearly buckling as his left ankle rolled over.

Why chance the straight victory, when you have a second ace up your sleeve? The insurance needed to take the jackpot.

Showing emotion for the very first time, Stephen Strasburg was visibly upset with this ongoing mound distraction. And when The San Diego State University Product subsequently walked Cleveland's Austin Kearns to load those bases, Riggleman knew that was enough. No reason to put Washington's biggest prospect ever into harms way any longer. The limits on Stephen's talents may be sky high, but you can't play yourself to the top of the game acting recklessly. Leading 6-1 at the time, winning the game was certainly still important. So was saving The Future Of Our Washington Nationals to battle for another day.

With Jim Riggleman having laid down his cards now, showing Storen, for all to see--would The Cleveland Indians be able to trump Washington with a move of their own?

As Stephen Strasburg was replaced by Drew Storen, the boo birds actually came out at Progressive Field. Really, they did. Maybe, the Cleveland audience just wanting to get more out of their money and see Washington's Phenom pitch longer? Or maybe, they were upset at his kicking the dirt in disappointment over the condition of the mound. That's fine--that's their prerogative. But what no one in the announced crowd of 32,876 probably expected was another Number 1 Pick in the 2009 Draft trotting out in what was now a pressure situation--and closing the door on Strasburg's second Big League Start.

Our Poker Playing Manager had played his Wild Card. Looking to cash out, Riggleman's "Pocket Rocket" was put into play. The key decision resulting in Drew's finest outing of his short Major League Career.

With the always powerful Russell Branyan standing at the plate, Our Number 58 forced this fearful home run hitter to pop out to second base. Cristian Guzman handling the infield fly rule. And then followed that key out with a swinging strikeout of Jhonny Peralta to end the 6th frame. Drew going on to complete two outs in the 7th frame as well--again scoreless. With Storen dealing pay off pitch after pay off pitch, Jim Riggleman's leveraged bet had officially paid off.

Our Manager had not only won a most difficult played hand, but also, eventually this game.

No question, Stephen Strasburg this evening will get all the accolades for garnering his second personal victory in as many starts. But the Pied Piper's resultant personal win and subsequent 2.57 ERA might not be in the record book tonight, if not for his pitching pal from Stanford. While everyone at Progressive Field came to watch The Number 1 Overall Pick in the 2009 Draft this afternoon, they learned that another Washington first round pick, Number 10 overall from the 2009 Draft, was pretty exciting to watch as well. Pretty poker faced too.

Drew Storen is one aggressive pitcher. Today against The Cleveland Indians the Pac-10 Product showed why his talents are the perfect compliment to his more publicized teammate. Storen provides a different look. Where Strasburg powers his way through most hitters faced and has them swinging from their heels--Storen challenges every single batter that steps to the plate to just beat him. He's like a bold card player pushing the chips toward any serious challenger and saying: 'take them if you can?'

Drew & Stephen are both unafraid to face adversity. That confidence goes a long way toward winning any poker hand, as well as, recording key outs in any Major League Game. Storen and Strasburg can compete on the highest level because they have the resolve to stick with it--through all the tough times out on the mound.

That's gumption you can't teach.

Final Score from Progressive Field where everyone came to see Stephen Strasburg, but should have left wondering about that Drew Storen guy: Our Washington Nationals 9 and The Cleveland Indians 4. Curly "W" Number 31 will be remembered for Our Number 58 shutting the door on The Tribe when Jim Riggleman selected another card from his ever improving hand and found another ace up his sleeve. Storen saving his buddy, Stephen Strasburg's day, after Stephen was dealt a difficult hand himself, for the very first time in his Big League career.

Remember, every super hero usually has a sidekick and Our Number 37 may have found his today.

Batman had Robin.

The Lone Ranger had Tonto.

And The Green Hornet had Kato.

Certainly, there are more.

In Cleveland this Sunday afternoon, the baseball world found out that Stephen Strasburg has Drew Storen.

One quiet (Strasburg), the other talkative (Storen). Together, forming a new dynamic duo of their own that will hopefully be around for years to come wearing uniform numbers of Our Washington Nationals. Jim Riggleman played a mighty keen hand today against The Cleveland Indians and turned up two aces to decide this game. If you enjoy good pitching and great gamesmanship--The Nation's Capital got a glimpse this afternoon at Progressive Field of what's possible--of what so many have only dreamed about.

The Sky Is The Limit when two exciting young pitchers have each other's backs.

Today's In-Game Photos, Jared Wickerham (Getty Images)


The Herndon Kid said...

How long until Storen moves into the closer role? I know Riggleman backed Capps today, but if he keeps gagging games it may be time.

Screech's Best Friend said...

I don't think you will see Storen in the closer role for some time. Riggleman is going to use Drew as his guy to help out in all situations, not just the end of the game. Capps was signed to be the closer for 2010 and he's going to remain there barring a total blow up. The team has also said they will not use Storen on multiple days too often in order to save his young arm. Much like they are doing with Strasburg in total innings pitched this season.

Pete said...

Nice Job!!! PP