Monday, September 20, 2010

You Can't Win That Way

Now Updated With The Game Notes & Highlights

"Only Our Washington Nationals could play one of their worst defensive innings of the season tonight," stated SenatorNat. "Then turn around in the very next frame and play one of their best defensive innings of the year. You can't win that way."

No you can't and Our Washington Nationals didn't come close this evening before the smallest crowd to attend a Major League Game in The Nation's Capital since baseball returned to D.C. in 2005. Three errors committed by Washington in the top of the 5th inning directly led to seven runs being scored by The Houston Astros--five of them coming on two home runs knocked out of the ballpark off Livan Hernandez by Humberto Quintero and Geoff Blum.

The three miscues coming on a botched toss from Adam Dunn to Livo covering 1st base--that went off Ole Number 61's glove when he didn't cover 1st base quick enough on a grounder. The second followed shortly after when Willie Harris simply dropped a fly ball off his fielder's mitt. The third when Roger Bernadina bobbled a single to center which allowed another run to score.

Contrast that to the top of the 6th inning when Ryan Zimmerman backhanded a Brian Busgusivec grounder down the line--and overarm tossed a perfect strike to Adam Dunn covering 1st. Only to be topped by The Defensive Play Of This Game when Danny Espinosa didn't give up, didn't give up, didn't give up at all on a softly lofted baseball stroked from the bat of Quintero that found Washington's new middle infielder hustling with all his giddy-up a good 30-yards into the grass to slide and make a gorgeous catch for out number two.

That play was a thing of beauty, just like The Z-Man's diving stop to his right that finished this remarkable frame on a hot smash by Houston's Pitcher Bud Norris. Zimmy slid toward the line, one-hopped the baseball, turned and fired a second strike across the infield to Dunn at 1st to finish this trio of Defensive Gems.

And all that wizardry just left you wondering--what's going on out there?

No team is going to win any ball game playing one good inning after bad. And that was the case this evening on South Capitol Street as Our Washington Nationals lost their 4th in a row and 10th out of their last 12. Limping to the finish line with just 12 games remaining in the 2010 Season is not what many expected to see this September. In fact, Sohna and I had a conversation tonight about how when Stephen Strasburg officially went down for this season in August--and possibly for much of next year too with Tommy John Surgery on his elbow--all the air just seemed to go out of the ballon that was Washington's Season.

And they have never really recovered, sadly.

The June 8th, Stephen Strasburg Debut with all the Frenzy--seems so long ago. Especially after tonight sitting in a ballpark barely a quarter filled for a late season game between two teams well out of the running that was over rather early thanks to too many defensive miscues. So many (and the official scorer was generous in not awarding a couple more), not even a wonderfully played top of the 6th defensively could save D.C's team tonight.

Final Score from Nationals Park where you can't win playing that way in The Major Leagues: The Houston Astros 8 and Our Washington Nationals 2. Loss number 88 of 2010 got so out of hand during that 5th frame the crowd nearly reached "Friends & Family" status by the 7th Inning Stretch. Washington's only real chance to get back into this game came moments later with two outs and bases loaded in the bottom of the 7th. But with Adam Dunn standing at the plate, Houston's Tim Byrdak struck "Lone Star" out.

Rally over. Inning Over. This game over as well.

Game Notes & Highlights

Last night was one of those nights when Livan Hernandez got hit, he got hit hard. He allowed eight hits, two home runs while his ERA remained relatively low thanks to the three errors behind him directly leading to four unearned runs scored by The Houston Astros.

Again Washington's bullpen attempted to salvage the game by throwing four shutout innings. Craig Stammen, Collin Balester and Joe Bisensus giving up three hits, two walks and zero runs.

Adam Dunn got Washington on the board in the bottom of the very 1st inning when he looped a two run double down the right field line off Houston's Bud Norris--scoring Adam Kennedy (who had walked) and Ryan Zimmerman (who had singled) before him.

Up until the time earlier this season when Our Washington Nationals played The Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park, The Astros had one of the worst records in baseball (17-34). After recovering and righting their year--Houston now has 73 wins and 77 loss and may well finish near the .500 mark. An impressive accomplishment especially when you looked at their starting lineup last night that contained so many unfamiliar faces--young guys with the last names of Bourgeois, Johnson, Bogusevic and Norris. Only Hunter Pence and Carlos Lee were truly recognizable faces, but clearly The Astros are doing something right.

Speaking of Bourgeois, he made a spectacular play of his own rushing in on a looping liner off the bat of Roger Bernadina in the bottom of the 3rd. Using good speed and athleticism, Bourgeois made a diving face first grab of the hit baseball, a split second before it hit the grass. A very nice defensive play only outdone by Espinosa's circus catch in the 6th inning.

Before the game, Our Washington Nationals started selling "Shirts Off Their Backs" Raffle Tickets. Not only were sales being taken at The Washington National Dream Foundation Kiosk in Center Field Plaza, but volunteers were stationed throughout the ballpark selling tickets as well. Additionally, The Dream Foundation is selling off bats, baseballs and some jerseys (all autographed by former players)--with prices ranging from $5 to $30.

Tonight was Military Appreciation Night. Servicemen and women were honored before and during the game. And the Starting Nine featured those who had just recently returned from service in Iraq.

George won the 4th inning Presidents Race on a bicycle. He and his fellow Rushmores pedaled their way from centerfield to the 1st base finish line to complete the competition.

And finally, there were two spectacular foul ball catches in Section 218 by fans. Each by guys sitting in their seats, hardly moving but just reaching out with one hand and snaring the baseball. Considering both baseballs were hit rather hard, the catches were impressive. Especially the first one because the man that retrieved that baseball never lost his beer cup he held tightly in his left hand. He never spilled a drop.

Tonight's In-Game Photos, Evan Vucci (AP)
All Other Photos Copyrighted--Nats320--All Rights Reserved


An Briosca Mor said...

"too many defensive miscues. So many (and the official scorer was generous in not awarding a couple more"

Just hang on a while and he may yet award a few more errors. It's a minor point among the many vexations of this season, but could the official scorer at Nationals Park be any more indecisive? I would hate to be behind him in the grocery line when the cashier asks "paper or plastic?" It's not rocket science, dude. Just make a call. Hit or error. It's bad enough that his inability to make a call messes up people like me in the ballpark who are trying to keep score, but I discovered last night that the effects are more wide-ranging than that. Frustrated with the delay in posting the scoring decision on the scoreboard, I turned to the MLB AtBat app on my iPhone to see what had just happened on the field in front of me, only to find that the app was two plays behind because they were apparently waiting on the scorer to rule. I had often wondered why there were so many delays between plays when I would be following along on a game via the iPhone while on the Metro or somewhere else where it wasn't feasible to watch or listen to it live. Now I know.

Screech's Best Friend said...

There are actually at least four different official scorers at Nationals Park. They work on a rotating schedule. So it's not the same person for every single game.

An Briosca Mor said...

Then the slow scorer must be working Teddy's Partial Season Ticket Plan D, because he's there for every game I'm at.