Thursday, September 23, 2010

Not All The Usual Suspects

With the opening and sitting of the United Nations General Assembly this week, Sohna and I haven't had a lot of free time outside of the ball games. But here's a few notes from last night's come from behind victory over The Houston Astros.

When Our Washington Nationals won last night much of their 26th come from behind victory of 2010 had mostly to do without the usual suspects. Ryan Zimmerman, Pudge Rodriguez and Adam Dunn did not lead the way last night, Ian Desmond, Danny Espinosa, Michael Morse, Jason Marquis, Sean Burnett, and, especially, Joel Peralta all did. If Washington is going to make any strides forward, they need to win more often when their three star players are not contributing offensively. That happened last evening at Nationals Park in actually one of the better played games all season on South Capitol Street.

Despite his 33 errors in the field in 2010, Ian Desmond has proven to be a solid contributor at the plate. He's going to finish this year with double figures in home runs, over 60 rbi's and a batting average in the .270 to .285 range. If anyone told you Desmond would accomplish that in 2010 during spring training, we'd bet you'd take that. Last night, Ian with an rbi single among his two hits--raising his average to .280. He's going to get better.

Does anybody play harder than Danny Espinosa? He never gives up on anything hit near him in the field and again proved he's clutch at the plate with the game-winning two run homer off Jeff Fulchino in the bottom of the 8th yesterday. Espinosa also tripled off the right centerfield wall and scored earlier in the game. The young man's got five home runs, four doubles and 13 rbi in just 19 games. The Southern California Native is still prone to striking out, but he's going to be a good player for years to come. Danny Espinosa has some nice tools.

"Mikey Mo" power drove a line shot home run to dead centerfield again last night for his 12th home run of the season. The more Michael Morse plays, the better he's become. His bat speed through the strike zone can be mighty impressive. Everything Morse does hit, is hit hard.

If Washington's starting rotation is going to stabilize in 2011 in the wake of Stephen Strasburg going down to Tommy John Surgery, Jason Marquis has to pitch more like he did last night--not like he's thrown most all season long. Marquis doesn't strike many hitters out, but he kept the ball down last night, giving up two earned runs and putting himself in the position to get a personal win--which did not happen.

As the season has progressed, Sean Burnett has pitched with more and more confidence on the mound. Never considered a closer type pitcher before Matt Capps was traded to Minnesota for Wilson Ramos, Washington's southpaw is becoming more than just a situational lefty out of the pen. The question now is whether Burnett can develop the mindset to become a closer?

And finally--does any player currently on Our Washington Nationals roster play with more passion than Joel Peralta? The journeyman reliever is completing a career season in the Big Leagues in 2010. Each and every time he's been handed the ball to pitch by Our Manager Jim Riggleman--it's like watching a mini-drama series unfolding on the mound. Last night was the perfect case in point. After warming up, there is the taking off of the cap and a brief prayer. There is the looking up and slightly pointing to the sky, briefly, after each out. And then there is the walk-off the mound at the end of each inning, or appearance, with a repeat of the entire performance.

Oh yeah, there is also the slamming of the baseball into his mitt after every out is made as well. That's great stuff, entertaining too.

Every pitch Joel Peralta throws is a production, and quite frankly, it's very fun to watch. Did you see the dance and jig he preformed with the BatBoy last night after he was removed in the top of the 9th inning during a standing ovation from the crowd? Classic!!

Numbers don't lie and Our Number 62's WHIP (Walks Per Innings Pitched) is quite outstanding--0.80. In 45 total innings thrown, Peralta has given up just 27 hits and 9 walks. At times, he's been susceptible to the long ball (five home runs), but at 34 years of age, Joel might be one of those late bloomers that finally figured out how to use his fastball, curve and changeup to his best advantage. Good teams win with guys like that.

And one final point about defense. Last night's game was cleanly played. Zimmerman, Roger Bernadina and Justin Maxwell all made some really nice defensive plays in the field. Up the middle (catcher, 2nd base, shortstop, centerfield), Washington is developing some pretty solid "D". All over the field, this team is much better defensively. So much so, re-signing Adam Dunn is looking more and more like a better option. Espinosa has such exceptional range he could make up for some of Dunn's defensive shortcomings. And besides, Washington could still use Dunn's power in the middle of their lineup.

Bottom line--Our Washington Nationals need Zimmerman, Dunn and Rodriguez but they can't depend of all the usual suspects to win each and every night. Last evening at Nationals Park, Curly "W" Number 64 was garnered thanks to some young bloods and a few veterans (needing to prove themselves again), showing what they are capable of when they have their acts together.

PS: What was going on with Marquis & Pudge last night? Early in the game, they had an extended conversation on the mound that made home plate umpire Tony Randazzo head out and break up. Then later, in the fifth inning, Marquis sort of stormed off the mound after a pitch which brought Ian Demond toward him and Pudge, Pitching Coach Steve McCatty and Randazzo eventually to the mound too. Sort of strange, but pretty interesting.

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

No comments: