Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Only The Phan(n)tom Knows

Ryan Zimmerman slapped down the first phantom tag of the night in the bottom of the 2nd inning on Gabby Sanchez. The Defensive Play Of This Game that occurred when The Florida Marlins' Chad Tracy laced a fly ball to deep left field at "Whatever They Call It Now" Ballpark in South Florida. Out Number 1 that quickly became out number two, when Our Washington Nationals Roger Bernadina caught the ball, stopped dead in his tracks, and threw a tremendous toss, right on the money to The Z-Man at 3rd Base. Sanchez, attempting to move up one base on the play, was called out by 3rd Base Umpire Mike Estabrook--even though Sanchez's right hand clearly beat the great throw from Bernadina on the video replay.

Phantom tag number two happened an inning later--in the bottom of the 3rd. Florida's Cameron Maybin hit what appeared to be a routine ground ball to Adam Dunn standing just off 1st base. Dunn couldn't handle the baseball cleanly as it bounced off his chest and down in front of his large body. As Jordan Zimmermann ran toward first to cover the bag and Dunn picked up the baseball, Maybin turned on the afterburners and JUST beat the throw to J-Z at the base. No question, Cameron was safe. Well, safe to everyone except the one man in the ballpark that this moment mattered the most--1st Base Umpire Marvin Hudson.

Two separate plays, two phantom outs, setting the stage for the return of a vision in South Florida only dreamed about by Washington fans for the past 54 weeks. On the very night seeing was not always what was believed, Jordan Zimmermann had The Florida Marlins hallucinating at the plate. His pitches must have appeared like a mirage from a distance. There, but not really. How else can you explain 18 batters faced, and 18 outs, the minimum possible in six complete innings thrown? The first player since baseball returned to D.C. to achieve such a feat.

In his second Major League start since Tommy John Surgery, "The Phan(n)tom" returned tonight on the mound for Our Washington Nationals in the name of Jordan Zimmermann. The Zimm with Two NN's was cagey, subtle, a little bit tricky. But most of all, he was totally in control--pitching with confidence.

Was he ever painting the black.

Like a shadow lurking in the night, Our Number 27 was a nightmare for The Florida Marlins' lineup this evening. They couldn't recognize what was coming at the plate. And by the time they did, most were heading back to their home dugout, bat in hand, shaking their heads in wonder. Astonished, maybe even admiring the ghostly aspect of Zimmermann's performance. J-Z striking out a career high nine batters on the night.

Yeah, Anibel Sanchez was nearly as good pitching for The Fish. No team scored a single run until Florida pushed across the winning tally in the bottom of the 10th inning. It was a well played game by both sides. But the final score: The Florida Marlins 1 and Our Washington Nationals Zero was not the story--the marveling over Jordan Zimmermann was.

Two phantom out calls earlier in this game might have been a figment of someone else's imagination, but the starting performance by J-Zimm was no such illusion. "Only The Phan(n)tom Knows" how really good and crafty he can be. Proven tonight--If Jordan Zimmermann consistently equals anything close to this evening's effort in South Florida throughout his still young career--Our Washington Nationals will have an All-Star for years to come.

And that's a vision, not a fantasy, for Washington fans to dream about tonight.

PS--Nyjer Morgan attempting to barrel over The Florida Marlins Catcher, Brett Hayes, in the top of the 10 inning was the wrong decision. He should have slid to the outside corner of the plate--away from the tag and the ball. Morgan was attempting to score from second base on a slow ground ball hit to Florida's Emilio Bonifacio between 1st and 2nd with one out by Adam Kennedy. Alberto Gonzalez was running from 1st base. As Bonifacio flipped the baseball to Hanley Ramirez coming across the 2nd base bag to record the 2nd out of the frame on "The Attorney General", Ramirez realized Morgan wasn't stopping and heading home. Figuring he had a better shot at home on Morgan than turning two on Kennedy racing to 1st base--Hanley threw a high toss to Hayes standing on top of home plate.

Hayes had to reach out and slightly to his right to retrieve the toss. Nyjer never stopped running, never attempted to slide and should have hooked his foot down and away from Hayes to score. Instead, he ran right over Brett Hayes, hitting Hayes hard and hurting him, and was called out at the plate by Home Plate Umpire Jim Wolf. No phantom tag there, Hayes clearly held onto the ball. Attempting to score on that play was a good decision, but the execution by Morgan was not--especially when Nyjer could have avoided the collision--easily. There was no reason to barrel over Brett Hayes.

Ironically, the winning run scored for The Fish when Chad Tracy stroked a single to left field in the bottom of the 10th off Drew Storen that found Roger Bernadina picking up the baseball and throwing a near perfect strike of his own home to Pudge Rodriguez. As the throw came slightly up the 1st base line and Pudge stood on home plate--Hanley Ramirez made the perfect hook slide down and away to score the game winning run. Pudge's phantom tag was exactly that--an illusion. Home Plate Umpire Jim Wolf made the correct call and Hanley Ramirez made the right decision by not attempting to run over the catcher.

Maybe, Nyjer can learn a thing, or two, from that.

Tonight's InGame Photos--Wilfredo Lee (AP)

Monday, August 30, 2010

2010 INOVA Blood Drive At Nationals Park

"There is a need for blood every day. We need to collect at least 200 units of blood every day to meet the needs of the patients in our community," stated Terri Craddock, Director of INOVA Blood Services. "And when we can come down here and do a blood drive like this and get 200, 300 units of blood that’s great. It’s great for our patients."

Saturday, August 28th was the second and final INOVA Blood Drive of 2010 scheduled for Nationals Park. In partnership with Our Washington Nationals, INOVA Blood Services teamed up with D.C.'s Major League Baseball Team to get the word out that the need for blood for patients is always necessary--as is the willingness of individuals to donate.

470 people signed up to donate for this past weekend's event, many using the opportunity to combine volunteerism with their love of baseball. Washington's Baseball Team sent information out to all season ticket holders and fans encouraging them to attend. Many that participated in this latest blood drive attended that night's game with The St.Louis Cardinals on South Capitol Street as well.

"Our sports partnerships are vital because sports fans are already loyal," believes Melanie Allen, Marketing Manager for INOVA Blood Services. "They are pretty loyal to their teams. So when their teams ask them to do something--normally--they will come out and do it for their team. And we need loyal blood donors. So it’s kind of synonymous. The loyal sports fan and the loyal blood donor. We hope to keep them. A couple of blood donors we’ve talked to today have gone to our Washington Capitals events. We have a partnership with them as well as The Nationals. We schedule the Caps in the spring, two drives during the summer with The Nationals and one more in the fall with The Capitals. And one of our donors has been to all of our blood drives so far. That's how loyal fans can be."

On a yearly basis, INOVA Blood Services hopes to draw 94,000 units of blood which is distributed to their 15 local hospitals and life-saving partners. 65% of all donated blood comes from events similar to the one held at Nationals Park on August 28th. Each month, INOVA Blood Services conducts approximately 100 blood drives in the local community. Those mobile events help enhance INOVA's four permanent blood donation centers located in Northern Virginia in Sterling, Annandale, Centreville and Mt. Vernon. According to INOVA Blood Services, only 5% of the eligible population donates blood and that's because many have never been asked, while some--might be hesitant to participate.

Terri Craddock: "Most of the time it’s because they have never been asked. Some are afraid. Some have just never been asked or don’t even think about it. But once you ask them and do a one-on-one ask, people are usually pretty willing to donate. I think there is a lot of apprehension about donating for the first time. Usually once you do it, you usually get the fear out of the way and most people come back and do it again. But I think the fear of the unknown bothers some people and keeps them from giving it a try. But those that do--find the process to be very simple."

Nationals Fan Phil Goldman has been donating blood for over 40 years and can't understand the hesitancy of others: "It’s nothing. It’s nothing. You will feel much better because you gave and are helping someone else in the long run. When I heard this was coming (to Nationals Park), I knew I was going to come. In fact, I wanted to come."

There are two types of donations taken at any INOVA Blood Drive. A person can donate a full blood donation or they can do what is called a "double red cell" donation in which they give two units of just red cells. INOVA can also take a unit of plasma as well then. This "double red cell" donation skips the component process of breaking the blood down into three different components--red cells, plasma and platelets--which in the long run--gets the units out to INOVA's patients faster. O-Negative blood is the most widely collected units desired and gathered. O-Negative blood is found in only 7% of the population, but it is the universal donor blood. Anybody can receive O-Negative blood, which is what INOVA uses most with their patients in their hospitals and on board their emergency helicopters transferring patients to trauma units. Medical personal can transfuse O-Negative blood to any patient without fear of a cross-match.

As an incentive for those participants at Nationals Park on Saturday, each donor was given two tickets to a future Nationals game, and a special Curly "W" themed Build-A-Bear Bloodhound. Those fortunate enough to donate between the hours of 1PM and 2PM were also greeted by Nationals Pitcher Tyler Clippard, who worked the room, took pictures, signed autographs for anyone wishing and came away impressed by what he witnessed:

Tyler Clippard: "This sheds a new light that what we are doing out there (on the field) as baseball players is not really that important--you know what I mean. There are many more things in this city and this world, in general, of people contributing and helping out--that’s a lot more important than what we do as baseball players. So, it’s nice to see that and be here as part of it too."

Not only are INOVA's sports partnerships huge to their blood drive success, but so are the promotional goodies given to donors as a thanks for coming. While Our Washington Nationals provided tickets and the Bloodhound, The Washington Capitals, through INOVA Blood Services--presents donors with a limited-edition bobblehead of one of their players. Believe or not, the goodie handed out is the clincher to getting some to participate.

"Some donors are truly altruistic and don’t want anything," stated Melanie Allen. "They will come out no matter what. But some will never donate again if you don’t give them anything. So, we have a wide spectrum of donors. We really do. And it doesn’t matter. If they want to come out and be a blood donor--we hope they will get to a point where they realize they are doing something for someone else. So they might not need something every time. But if we can thank them in one way or another with the Bloodhound, the tickets, the bobblehead, or the tee-shirt--then that’s what we need to do. They are taking their time to come out and see us. They are spending their gas money and their time away from their family and friends to come donate blood. So, we will take them in, in anyway that we can."

After every single unit of blood is checked through the 13 steps mandated by the FDA for infectious diseases and cleared to be used, INOVA Blood Services places the hundreds of donations gathered from Saturday's drive in their facilities in just a few short days.

"There is always a need for blood no matter the time of the year, or the situation," concluded Terri Craddock. "So please keep coming out to donate. We love our partnership with The Nationals. It’s really been successful for us. The fans are great and they (The Nationals) have a great ability to drive their fans to this donation location. And that's why we really like working with them."

Dates and public locations for any INOVA Blood Drive can be found at inovablood.org/donateblood. At that website, donors can also schedule a time and place to participate at their convenience.

All Photos Copyrighted--Nats320--All Rights Reserved

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Lannan's Cannons & Friends

As John Lannan slowly walked from the mound to the home dugout for the final time this afternoon, a large standing ovation from the announced crowd of 24,782 took place. The sign of appreciation for a young man that seemingly has transformed his Big League career in the month of August, 2010. For nearly eight full innings, Lannan's left armed cannon had mostly shut down The St. Louis Cardinals in order while John's teammate & friend, Michael Morse, had fired off his cannon of a bat, in support, with a laser beam two run homer in the bottom of the 3rd.

At the time of John Lannan's removal from this game, Our Washington Nationals led 4-1 over The Cards. D.C.'s team was in the lead thanks to the lanky lefthander returning to form. This Sunday Our Number 31 put on a vintage performance. He kept the ball down in the strike zone. His infielders working behind him turned two double plays. John forced 13 ground ball outs. And even though Matt Holliday reached on a leadoff double in the top of the 7th for St. Louis--the biggest of 8 hits scattered off Lannan all afternoon--Holliday's eventual scoring of The Cardinals first run on a ground out by Jon Jay did little to damage a Washington starting assignment well done.

Looking for stability in their starting rotation, D.C.'s team needs hurlers to step up and produce these days--those that can convince they belong. John Lannan did exactly that this afternoon at Nationals Park. He showed the confidence, the guts and the guile necessary to pitch again on the big stage--against a good opponent. Savvy not seen from Washington's Opening Day Starter from this past April through June when John struggled so badly--Mike Rizzo reassigned him to AA Harrisburg. Our GM deciding Lannan at that time needed to work out his control issues in the minor leagues--not in the major leagues.

On this beautiful late summer day, John Lannan reassured his bosses and Washington's fans that his early season control issues are now behind him. He did not walk a single St.Louis batter. He even struck out Albert Pujols to end the sixth frame. And when Our Number 31 completed his longest outing of the season (7.2 innings), John left knowing full well, he was deserving of all the accolades that were shortly to come.

Lannan's Cannon had ruled this day. And with it, so did Our Washington Nationals.

Drew Storen recording the four out save, although not without a little bit of drama. Pedro Feliz taking Drew deep with one out in the 9th while St.Louis pinch hitter Colby Rasmus stepped to the plate with two outs representing the tying run. A little bit of a scare finished off when Storen showed off his young cannon of arm by whiffing Rasmus on a wicked slider that fooled Colby so badly--he might well have had the opportunity to swing at it twice.

Final Score From Nationals Park where John Lannan fired the first salvo, Michael Morse provided the cannon fire and Drew Storen eventually cleaned things up: Our Washington Nationals 4 and The St.Louis Cardinals 2. Curly "W" Number 56 represented Washington's first series victory over The Cards since August, 2007. And became the first time since July 31st, D.C.'s team has won back-to-back ball games. A span of 27 games--incredibly. The Bang!! Zoom!! Of The Fireworks!! proving, once again, how important starting pitching really is to most any game's outcome. John Lannan went deep into today's game. His left armed cannon kept the score down and he gave his teammates plenty of opportunities to push across the few runs necessary against a solid St.Louis starter in Adam Wainwright to gather a much needed win.

If you can excuse Ian Desmond's two out error in the 9th inning this afternoon that extended this game briefly and brought Colby Rasmus to the plate as the game tying run against Drew Storen, today's game was everything last night's game was not--well played and clean. The type of game The Baseball Gods will always look down on in appreciation. Lannan's Cannons & Friends played a beautiful game this Sunday at Nationals Park. And in doing so, provided little cannon fodder for their critics.

Game Notes & Highlights

John Lannan was the story this day. In his 6th appearance since returning from AA Harrisburg, Washington's 2010 Opening Day Starter continued to transform his season. Only a leadoff double by Matt Holliday in the top of the 7th inning which led to The Cardinals' first run ruined his day. After winning his 6th game of 2010 this afternoon, John Lannan went to the home clubhouse confident in the knowledge that since returning to the Major League Roster on August 1st--he's won four games, lost just one while sporting a solid ERA of 3.25. Maybe it's his longer hair. Maybe it's the pants being worn longer. Maybe, it's his newly modified windup. Or maybe, it's just the fact that Lannan is healthy again. For 7.2 innings today, John was exactly what everyone has seen from him in his past and expected from him in 2010. He pitched a great game and even knocked in two runs with a single to right in the 2nd inning. More than enough to be proclaimed "The Player Of The Game."

Drew Storen hammered out the 4 out save. The third save in his young career, but it wasn't without controversy. Drew whizzed the first pitch he threw in the 9th inning--BEHIND Matt Holliday. The St.Louis Slugger immediately started jawing and walking toward the mound--where Nationals Catcher Wil Nieves stopped him and so did Home Plate Umpire Rob Drake. But that wasn't enough to keep Cardinals Manager Tony LaRussa from coming out and arguing. Nor did it keep the remainder of the umpires--Joe West, Angel Hernandez and Dan Bellino from involving themselves as well. LaRussa wouldn't calm down. Nor did Jim Riggleman when it was determined to warn both sides (meaning another inside pitch thrown might end in an ejection).

Eventually, after what seemed like an eternity, the game continued. Matt Holliday grounded out after breaking his bat (to nearly a standing ovation from D.C. Fans), but that didn't keep The Cardinals' left fielder from running right by the mound to speak to Storen. He didn't have much of a chance to say anything because Rob Drake rushed out and got between both players and clearly told Holliday to high tail it--to the visiting dugout.

Storen allowed the solo home run to Pedro Feliz moments later. Thankfully, that was it for the day's scoring when Drew struck out both Jon Jay and Colby Rasmus between a two out fielding error by Ian Desmond--to end this game.

Lannan surprised just about every single person in the park when he lofted a Adam Wainwright pitch down the left field line in the bottom of the 2nd inning. He clearly stunned The Cardinals as the two-out clutch hit plated both Adam Dunn and Michael Morse thanks to Matt Holliday misplaying the spinning baseball in left and running over the ball before finally retrieving it.

"Mikey Mo's" home run was a thing of beauty. Sitting dead red, Michael Morse rocket launched a Wainwright fastball in the bottom of the 3rd inning JUST OVER the left field wall. With Adam Dunn on base with a walk--Morse's home run proved to be the game winning scores plated this day. Slumping early in August, Michael has again been hot of late and finished this day with a batting average of .294 along with 10 home runs and 27 RBI. Looking to play on a more regular basis--he's getting his chance and making it hard for Our Washington Nationals to leave him out of their daily lineups.

Morse, Dunn and Roger Bernadina all had two hits today off St. Louis pitching. And Bernadina raced back to the left centerfield wall in the top of the 5th inning to take what looked like a sure double away from The Cardinals' Yadier Molina. The Defensive Play Of This Game that featured Roger using all of his speed to track down the fast falling baseball--reaching out with his right gloved hand to snare the ball near the warning track. Nice play.

Again, The Cardinals' shortstop made another fine defensive effort this day. Brendan Ryan proved again today that he can pick up the hot shots. Roger Bernadina smoked a grounder up the middle--on the 3rd base side of 2nd--where Ryan ranged over and short hopped the baseball into his mitt and cleanly threw out the fast moving Bernadina. Roger kept staring at Ryan the entire time he was heading back to the dugout.

Except for a 1st inning single. Washington shut down the Greatest Slugger In The Game. Albert Pujols was not a factor this afternoon. Lannan handled him well from the mound. And Drew Storen stuck him out to end the top of the 8th on a wicked slider.

Josh Willingham sighting. Recovering from knee surgery earlier this week, Washington's starting left fielder was back on the bench in uniform watching--but not eligible to play for the remainder of the season.

Abe won the 4th inning Presidents Race. Then all four Rushmore's got together to display signs reading "It's a double rainbow"--whatever that is supposed to mean.

Sunday was also the 2nd and last Pups In The Park promotion this year. 100 or so dogs and their owners enjoyed the game while sitting in the leftfield mezzanine seats and the upper left field terrace seats at Nationals Park. Throughout the game, many dogs and their owners were shown watching, dancing and playing on the HDTV Screen.

This afternoon was probably the clearest sharpest weather day of the year on South Capitol Street. Not a cloud in the sky and that meant a good opportunity to walk around the ballpark and take beauty shots.

Shortly after the conclusion of the game, Our Washington Nationals announced that Livan Hernandez's contract has been extended through the 2011 season. Ole Number 61, the very man that threw the first pitch in Nationals History and to this day is beloved by the fan base--will return next season after anchoring and mentoring Washington's young staff all season. Livo has taken the ball for each and every starting assignment this season--without fail. In doing so, Livan Hernandez has given D.C.'s team a solid chance at victory every fifth day this year.

And finally, The Patron Saint of Nationals Park celebrated his 90th birthday today. Lorenzo Crow, who attends most every home game, was honored on the HDTV Scoreboard in the 5th inning, The Former Negro League player was given Presidents Club Seats and a cake from his many fans. One of nicest people around that's a true fan of Our Washington Nationals.

Today's InGame Photos--Nick Wass (AP)
All Other Photos Copyrighted--Nats320--All Rights Reserved

The Furor

An offensive explosion, a large crowd against a good opponent, controversial calls, the furor of it all. Last night's game between Our Washington Nationals and The St. Louis Cardinals was only missing the announcement afterwards of a much anticipated scheduled shouting rematch between Umpire Joe West and Nationals First Base Coach Dan Radison.

Have you ever seen the usually mild-mannered Radison so pissed?

"Shorty" (Sohna's nickname for Dan) was incensed off over a terrible interference call ruled against Ian Desmond in the bottom of the 3rd inning. With Livan Hernandez on second base and Adam Kennedy standing on first base with no outs, Desmond laid down a nice bunt between the pitchers mound and 3rd base. As Our Number 6 raced to 1st, Cardinals pitcher Kyle Lohse picked up the rolling baseball, turned and threw an awful throw toward Albert Pujols standing on the bag. Lohse's throw was off line, in front of Pujols and behind Desmond's back. The swift moving Ian was running JUST inside the white baseline as the ball neared the base.

Albert Pujols realized if he extended his glove out into the baseline--he might get his left hand broken. So he pulled back in safety and the baseball flew past him and down the right field line--scoring Livo easily and sending Kennedy to 3rd base. But out of nowhere, replacement AAA Umpire Dan Bellino (again inserting himself into controversy surrounding a Nationals game this year), ruled Desmond had interfered with Pujols' catch by running INSIDE the baseline. A terrible decision that credited Lohse for a TERRIBLE THROW.

The ruling was silly because it excused Kyle Lohse's poor defensive play. Ian Desmond hadn't interfered with the play and that set Dan Radison into a fit as he went ballistic on First Base Umpire Rob Drake--who tossed him. Now if Radison was going to get ejected, he was also going to get in his two cents worth and proceeded to continue with a near knockdown, drag out, shouting match with Joe West--the Crew Chief. Dan was nose to nose giving it to West. And West was giving it right back. Only Our Manager Jim Riggleman forcing himself between the two combatants simmered the feud.

That was some good stuff.

Bellino's ruling had set off a furor. The volatility of the moment actually igniting the announced crowd of 30,688 on South Capitol Street and lighting a fuse under Our Washington Nationals. Believe it or not, this one controversial play set the tone for the remainder of the evening. An interference call that completely changed around the momentum of this game. Down 3-1 to St. Louis at the time, those fighing words from Dan Radison sparked a huge rally by the home side and with it one of the largest offensive breakthroughs since Baseball Returned In 2005.

16 hits were accumulated by Our Washington Nationals. 14 runs scored--the highest total in any game played in D.C. in six seasons. And saved Livan Hernandez from being forced out early when The Cardinals were smacking him all over Nationals Park. Of course a smackdown like this would not have been complete without another controversy. And that came after this affair got well out of hand. Former Nationals Closer, Mike MacDougal, was being put through the ringer by Manager Jim's batting order. Six earned runs spotted against his already balloning ERA of 8.74 in the bottom of the 8th. But what everyone watching will remember is the 7th run that supposedly scored, but was called an out by 3rd Base Umpire Angel Hernandez.

At the time, MacDougal wasn't helping himself on the mound. It's just too bad Pudge Rodriguez physically helped Nyjer Morgan touch the plate while trying to score. Otherwise D.C.'s Team would have plated 15 runs this evening. The furor over this last dispute of the night almost as good as the first one that got everything started.

The explanation: One run was already in for Washington in the bottom of the 8th (the score 9-5 Washington), when Nyjer Morgan laid down a simple sacrifice bunt attempting to move Pudge Rodriguez and Michael Morse to 2nd and 3rd. MacDougal cleanly fielded the baseball and threw a lollipop throw to Pujols at 1st Base. So softly, the ball flew OVER Albert's head. An incredibly silly error that loaded up the bases with nobody out. Willie Harris pinch hit next for reliever Sean Burnett and laced a double down the right field line--sure to score all three runners. With Pudge and Morse already across the plate and the crowd all on their feet roaring, Nyjer came hustling around third base--racing for home. Defensively, The Cardinals had no play on him and never even attempted to throw him out.

But that didn't stop another controversy from brewing.

With St. Louis catcher Bryan Anderson standing nearly on top of the plate looking at the ball being thrown into the infield, Morgan for some reason, ran into Anderson. He really didn't have to. Our Number 1 could have slid or just touched the outside corner of home. When Nyjer tripped past The Cardinals Catcher--Home Plate Umpire Dan Bellino didn't say anything. As Morgan ran into Rodriguez standing just beyond the batters circle on the grass to the right of home plate--Pudge physically pushed him back toward home to touch the plate. Nyjer Morgan slid back, face first for the apparent score.

Dan Bellino did not dispute the play in any way. But 3rd Base Umpire Angel Hernandez did. As Hernandez called Morgan out, Nationals Park erupted in another fury rarely heard. Fans were upset, pissed again over what they assumed was another bad umpiring decision. Jim Riggleman rushed out to argue. Morgan so mad, he ripped whatever he was chewing in his mouth out and tossed it violently against the backstop in front of The Presidents Club Seats.

As the ruckus continued and fans booed and booed and booed, Riggleman went back to Washington's dugout where Joe West then proceeded to continue the debate with Our Manager. Eventually the ruling stood, and as it turned, this decision was the proper one. No player, or coach, is allowed to physically assist or touch any baserunner--in any way. That's interference. And that's another automatic out.

But no announcement was ever mentioned to the crowd. The ruling was never explained. And that alone continued the volatile atmosphere and venom against the Men In Blue. The furor incensing the fan base and recharging Our Washington Nationals in a manner not seen in some time. Maybe D.C.'s Team needs to be infuriated in such a way more often--three more runs were scored in the bottom of the 8th after the ball was put back in play giving them a total of 14 for the night.

The result? Two interference calls, two odd outs, that went against the home side--but in long run had physically changed this game for the better.

How often can you say that?

Final Score from Nationals Park where commotion ruled the night: Our Washington Nationals 14 and The St. Louis Cardinals 5. Curly "W" Number 55 will be remembered for Adam Dunn breaking out of his August slump with a huge night at the plate (a two run double and three run homer to center). It will be recalled for "Mikey Mo" ripping the cover off the baseball by going 4-4. (Does anybody swing the bat harder than Michael Morse?). And for Roger Bernadina slugging out his 2nd home run of the week, and 10th of the season, on South Capitol Street. But The Bang!! Zoom!! Of The Fireworks!! celebrated a necessary rage needed in D.C. Baseball. With so many, so down, over the loss of Stephen Strasburg for the next 12-18 months, last evening's triumph over The St. Louis Cardinals and The Umpires injected a team and their fan base in need of a pick-me up.

Sometimes when things are tough and little appears to be going right--a moment, an instant, a juncture comes that gives hope. The Furor on display last night on South Capitol Street was tantalizing. If you left Nationals Park not excited over what you just witnessed--you never will. Controversy led to fury, hullabaloo led to rage, and agitation led to sheer madness.

Just ask" Shorty"?

Dan Radison's argument with Joe West meant everything this evening. His furor was the scene setter that altered the mood at the ballpark and helped bond Our Washington Nationals and their Fans back together again after a tough week. This was a good game, thrilling for all the right reasons.

And thankful for having two controversial umpiring calls.

Game Notes & Highlights

Livan Hernandez recorded his 9th win of the season--tying Tyler Clippard for a team high. It didn't appear Ole Number 61 would make it out of the 3rd inning. He wasn't sharp early. But after Washington's rally, Livo settled down and lasted into the 7th. Favorite Livan moment of the night. Down 3-1 and in the on-deck circle as the 2nd inning ended--Hernandez is swinging his bat and chatting with folks sitting in the 1st few rows of Presidents Club. That man's hilarious, nothing bothers him.

Adam Kennedy, Roger Bernadina, Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Dunn and Pudge Rodriguez had two hits apiece last night. Dunn knocked in five runs--Pudge and Bernadina each two.

Last night's victory was Washington's 100th in the history of Nationals Park.

George won the 4th inning Presidents Race.

And finally, after Willie Harris scored Washington's 12th run of the evening--moments after the Nyjer Morgan controversy at the plate in the bottom of the 8th--Willie couldn't help himself. He had slid across and was already declared safe. But he got up, turned around and re-touched home plate with his right hand. In fact, he slapped his palm down to drive the point home. Home Plate Umpire Dan Bellino was not impressed and stared at Harris as Willie trotted to The Nationals Dugout.

Last Night's InGame Photos--Susan Walsh (AP)
All Other Photos Copyrighted--Nats320--All Rights Reserved