Saturday, April 16, 2011

Questions Then Answers

Alex Brandon (AP)

Question: Raise your hand if you thought Our Washington Nationals could score four runs without getting a hit last evening?

Answer: Yes, they did--on two bases loaded walks, one sacrifice fly and a fielder's choice.

Question: Did you hope Tony Vega and his Band were heard over the P.A.--just for old time sakes--during Wil Nieves very first at-bat for the visiting Milwaukee Brewers. The man that never stops smiling returned to Nationals Park in a visiting uniform for the first time and received a very nice ovation from those in attendance.

Answer: Just out of appreciation for the fun many had dancing to his batting music and his friendliness toward every Nationals Fan--hearing that latino tune one last time would have been classy and stylish.

Question: How hard was it to watch Sean Burnett, down to his last out twice, and final strike to Carlos Gomez in the top of the 9th--Save Number 4 of 2011 surely in the books--only to see Gomez drill a single to left center scoring Rickie Weeks with the game tying score and sitting some already FREEZING fans back down in their seats for extras innings on this cold night?

Answer: Washington starter Tom Gorzelanny deserved the victory but was denied when Burnett couldn't get that final out before the tying run scored. And did Nationals Park ever empty out after The Brewers tied the game in the top of the 9th. The temperature had dipped so low--it was quite funny to see many in the announced crowd of 17,217 actually wearing shorts and flip flops--unprepared for the far from balmy weather.
Question: What was Brew Crew Manager Ron Roenicke thinking in the bottom of the 10th when--after Jayson Werth reached on a throwing error by Milwaukee shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt and advanced to second before stealing third moments later with one out?

Answer: What good does it do to bring that extra outfielder to shore up the Brewer infield--if you are going to let Werth run 30 feet or so down the line toward home plate? Unless the next batter strikes out, lines out or hits one right back to the box--there is no way Jayson is not going to score on just about anything hit on the ground.

And of course, the percentages and all that stat stuff didn't matter when Adam LaRoche hit a routine ground ball to Milwaukee's 1st Baseman Prince Fielder who, despite a double clutch throw home, had ZERO CHANCE to nail a speedy and smart running Werth at the plate for the game winning run. Werth had the advantage and with it so did Our Washington Nationals.

Yes, knowledge wins over the Computer. It's also called common sense.

And final question: If you lasted through bitter dropping temperatures, whipping wind and just downright uncomfortable weather last evening on South Capitol Street--don't you think you deserve something on the line of the old "Croix De Candlestick"--given away for San Francisco Giants games at old Candlestick Park for fans braving the always unpredictable chilly winds by the bay?

Answer: After a near 70 degree day in the Nation's Capital--could it have been more uncomfortable at the ballpark last night? If you lasted through this one for the entire 3 hours and 15 minutes and didn't hide in one of the clubs--more than thumbs up are deserved for you. At least some of the grounds crew guys got to run out on the field between innings to stay warm by picking up flying hot dog wrappers. Unfortunately, those staying warm this evening were in the minority.
Final Score from Nationals Park where on Jackie Robinson Day D.C.'s Team made, like Baseball's Pioneering Hall Of Famer, the best of every difficult situation: Our Washington Nationals 4 and The Milwaukee Brewers 3 in 10 innings. Curly "W" Number 6 of 2011 needed to be questioned at every turn because none of the final answers were as clear cut for this unusual game.

Not hitting much offensively early this spring, Our Washington Nationals manufactured runs, escaped a bullpen hiccup and won thanks to a little bit of overmanaging on the Brew Crew's part and a heads up dash for home on the part of Jayson Werth.  You can never quite predict the weather, but last night's outcome on South Capitol Street left more questions than answers.

Strange Game.

Game Notes & Highlights
Alex Brandon (AP)
Tom Gorzelanny threw one bad pitch, a fastball jacked over the left center field wall by Rickie Weeks for a two-run homer in the top of the 5th. Other than that, Gorzelanny threw some pretty good baseball. Six complete, five hits and two walks allowed.
With two out and nobody on base for The Brewers in the top of the 9th, it's safe to say just about everyone watching was stunned to see Sean Burnett give up a double to Weeks and a single to Gomez to tie the score at three. People were already heading home and the disappointment over seeing The Brewers eventually send this game into extra innings was stunning.

Chad Gaudin picked up his first win in a Nationals jersey by being the pitcher of record in the top of the 10th inning.
Milwaukee starter Chris Narveson got himself in big trouble in the bottom of the 2nd inning when Washington loaded up the bases against him before Narveson completely lost control. A walk to Jerry Hairston, Jr, walk to Tom Gorzelanny and a sacrifice fly by Danny Espinosa put Washington up early 3-0. How can any pitcher walk the opposing pitcher on four straight pitches? That's a cardinal sin.

Jayson Werth's game winning play. With one out in the bottom of the 10th, Werth hit a routine ground ball to Betancourt playing shortstop for Milwaukee. Yuniesky rushed his throw noticing Jayson hustling hard down the first base line. The ball arrived, just up line toward home plate, at the same time as Werth. Brew Crew 1st Baseman Prince Fielder couldn't handle the throw as his glove glanced off Jayson's shoulder. With the baseball scooting down the right field line, Werth didn't stop running and landed on 2nd base before stealing third.

At this point, Ron Roenicke called in his centerfielder, Gomez, to play right up the middle as a 5th infielder. But Milwaukee 3rd Baseman Casey McGehee set himself more toward shortstop as the Brewers still shifted over for Adam LaRoche stepping to the plate. Playing the stats over common sense, Werth took advantage of the Brewers' flawed logic and rushed for home on contact when LaRoche hit a routine ground ball to Fielder at 1st base. Already 30 feet down the line on the pitch by Zack Braddock, Prince had ZERO CHANCE to throw Werth out at the plate as he scored the game winning run.

That was a bad baseball decision by The Milwaukee Brewers.

Too bad this game didn't take place the night before for historical reasons. Craig Counsell plays for The Brewers today. Six years ago on April 14th, 2005, Counsell stepped to the plate at RFK Stadium for The Arizona Diamondbacks to face Livan Hernandez for the first kick and pitch when baseball returned to the Nation's Capital. That would have been a nice touch.

Being Jackie Robinson Day at Nationals Park, The African Queen and I wore our "Robinson 42" Buttons. Throughout the game well known Washingtonians were featured on the HDTV Scoreboard remembering this baseball great. Jackie's historical significance retold for fans and players alike. Every player and coach wore Jackie's Number 42.
New Jackie Robinson HOF Plaque In Cooperstown
Side note: The Jackie Robinson Hall Of Fame Plaque shown on the screen throughout the evening was the old version. A few years ago, the family of Jackie Robinson asked the Hall Of Fame to change the writing on Jackie's plaque to better represent what this legend meant to the game. Robinson's original plaque, incredibly, never mentioned he was the first African-American to integrate the Major Leagues. The new plaque does. That plaque is shown above.

The Unracing Sausages were back at Nationals Park. Since the Milwaukee Brewers Racing Sausages still refuse to take on Washington's Presidents, the fake versions returned to be run over by Abe, Tom, George and Teddy. Tom winning over Abe at the tape.

And finally, last night was Jordan Zimmermann's Grandparents 50th Anniversary. Delores and Mike Zimmermann were honored during the game with a nice mention on the HDTV Scoreboard.

All Other Photos Copyrighted--Nats320--All Rights Reserved


DND said...

We've missed your game coverages but enjoyed the Hall of Fame coverage. Thanks

paul said...

I'm not sure Chad Gaudin will get a more fortunate win. In the top of the 10th he gave up a rocket to Ryan Braun and a missile to Prince Fielder. Both were caught. Then the Nats won on three ground balls and an error.

It was cold, but if you're like me and don't heat your house too much, your blood is nice and thick still. My nephew, on the other hand, met me in shorts and flip flops. He was cold.