Saturday, August 07, 2010

The Three-Run Homer

From 1966 through 1983 The Baltimore Orioles were one of baseball's best franchises. They played in five Fall Classics and seven American League Championship Series (beginning in 1969) during that 18-year stretch--winning three World Series Championships. Baltimore won with solid starting pitching. They excelled on the field defensively. And thanks to a series of powering hitting lineups, The Orioles defeated their opponents with the three-run homer. Rarely, did "The Oriole Way" include small ball, playing for one run--their Hall of Fame Manager didn't believe in it. Earl Weaver trusted the big inning. The frames in which his team threw the knockout punch at an opponent.

Baltimore being mentioned here this morning because last night at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, Our Washington Nationals played a brand of baseball reminiscent of Earl Weaver's Baltimore Orioles of yesteryear. During his 15 years at the helm of Baltimore's franchise, the combative Weaver always felt the best way to win any game was to blow the opposition away. When you have Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson, Boog Powell, Don Baylor, Bobby Grich, Lee May, Reggie Jackson, Eddie Murray, Ken Singleton, Doug Decinces and Cal Ripken, Jr. at your disposal, you can think and believe along those lines.

Most every year he managed The Baltimore Orioles, Weaver had three power hitters in his lineups--players that could knock out anywhere from 25 to 40 homers per season, consistently. In 2010, Washington has three such sluggers written down on Jim Riggleman's scorecards most every day in Adam Dunn, Ryan Zimmerman and Josh Willingham. One of whom, Dunn, put on a show last evening proving, once again, how important the big inning can be in a baseball game. Dunn knocked out two three-run homers against The Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw in consecutive at-bats in the 1st and 3rd innings. A six run lead distanced by Adam which allowed his teammate, John Lannan, to settle in and pitch six complete at Dodger Stadium while giving Our Washington Nationals every chance to claim their latest victory.

Yeah, Lannan served up a two-run homer of his own to Andre Either in a three run 4th by Los Angeles, but that wasn't enough because one big inning by the home side wasn't enough to overcome two big innings by the visitors. Two powerful swings of the bat by Adam Dunn providing the knockout punches. The big lead never relinquished after John Lannan combined with Tyler Clippard, Sean Burnett and Drew Storen to finish this game off on the mound. Storen recording the first save of his Major League Career. The quality pitching necessary to round out any solid win.

Small ball has its moments, but nothing beats knocking the cover off the baseball and demoralizing the opposition with the three-run blast. Earl Weaver swore by it and won by it for years. The Los Angeles Dodgers felt the impact last night. Our Manager Jim Riggleman's lineups are equally capable. Zimmerman, Dunn and Willingham can sock a baseball out of any ballpark--missing though is the consistent team play. Baltimore's Teams of the late 60's, 70's & early 80's had the power. They also had the pitching and the defense to back it up. The upgrades necessary for a D.C. team in 2010 and beyond to be considered a contender. But at least for one night--last Saturday evening in Southern California--Washington evoked memories of some great lineups from years' past. The three-run homer won for The Baltimore Orioles back then and it won, as well, for Our Washington Nationals last night.

Final Score from Dodger Stadium where Adam Dunn provided all the firepower with his 29th & 30th home runs to lead his team to another win: Our Washington Nationals 6 and The Los Angeles Dodgers 3. Curly "W" Number 49 proved how important power hitters are in the middle of a lineup. Even when a team is not hitting the baseball well, one swing of the bat can be a big difference. A three-run homer can get any team back into most every game. A three-run homer can also put you ahead in most every game as well. And last night in L.A., two three-run homers gave D.C.'s Team the necessary distance to claim their latest victory. The assurance needed and confidence gained that small ball does not always provide.

Last Night's In-Game Photos, Danny Moloshok (AP)


Edward J. Cunningham said...

Slightly off-topic question---is there any reason to believe Austin Kearns was deliberately playing badly to force the Nats to get rid of him like Felipe Lopez? I simply find it incredible that the same Kearns who played for us the past few years is now good enough to be picked up by the Yankees for a run at the pennant.

Screech's Best Friend said...

Kearns did have a right thumb injury while in Washington that never healed and didn't allow him to grip the bat well. I am sure he didn't tank it.

Edward J. Cunningham said...

OK. There's some residual bitterness on the Nats MLB board about why Kearns couldn't play that well when he was wearing a curly W.

Incidentally, if Nick Johnson ends up wearing a World Series ring, I'll be happy for him, because he played with the Yankees and had playoff experience before coming here. Yet not ONCE did he complain about playing in Washington or for the Nationals. That means a lot in my book.