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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Nats shutout by Dodgers 10-0 OR Penny no loafer, pitching proves pricey. knocks Nats "cents"-less

Tonight's Washington Nationals/Los Angeles Dodgers game was a reality check.

Flying high after going 5-2 on their recent roadtrip and winning 12 of their last 17, the Nationals had every reason to believe that they would be at least be competitive against the western-division-leading Dodgers.

For tonight, anyway, they would be wrong.

The Dodgers' starter, Brad Penny, held the Nats to no runs and only 5 hits, throwing 69 strikes on 103 pitches (67%) in 6.1 innings, striking out 4 and walking 1. He managed to lower his ERA to 2.06 while notching his 7th win of the season as the Nationals lost to the Dodgers, 10-0. Oh, the humanity.

The Nats starter, Jason Simontacchi, allowed 11 hits, 6 runs and 1 walk. Eeesh.

The Nats bullpen of Winston Abreau allowed 4 runs on 5 hits in 1.2 innings. Billy Traber closed out the 9th inning without incident.

Felipe Lopez and Ronnie Belliard each went 2 for 4 and Brian Schneider went 1 for 3.

Ryan Report: (Parental Guidance suggested, please remove impressionable small children from the vicinity of the screen) Church? 0 for 4. Zimmerman? 0 for 4. Langerhans? 0 for 1. Austin Ryan Kearns? 0 for 3. Congratulations Mr. Penny.

I think it's safe to say that these L.A. guys aren't the Cincinnati Reds. Even though I didn't personally see the entire game, I witnessed Cristian Guzman get positively owned by the Dodgers batters. Everything they seemed to hit his way either went over his head or got past him, it was simply ridiculous.

I don't really have a lot to say about this game, though. I was too busy enjoying taking my friend (I'll call her "Fitzy") to her very first Nationals game. She had never been, despite having a previous job where tickets were probably hers for the asking. I got out of work just before 7:00 and went to pick her up downtown, and by the time we got our food and got to our seats, the 4th inning had ended (thanks, in great part, to Mr. Penny's ruthless efficiency).
I toned-down the peripatetic fanboy in me and just relaxed and enjoyed being outdoors on a lovely spring evening with a friend. We had popcorn and nachos and I bought an Attman's roast beef sandwich. She had a margarita to kick off the evening and we each had a beer from Howard. I wanted Fitzy to enjoy the experience that is Nationals baseball, the President's Race, the 7th inning stretch, lots of cheering and trying to make the best of a game which was out of reach by the middle of the 7th inning.

Yes, tonight was one of those nights that I adopt an "attitude of gratitude" for the very existence of major league baseball in my hometown, for being able to spend a lovely late-spring evening outside with a close, dear friend and enjoy a beer and just r-e-l-a-x-i-n-g after work. "Fitzy" had a good time, and we resolved to do this again soon, and that was all I needed to hear to be happy. She's a great person, someone of whom I'm very fond, and I didn't want to get all "Ben Wrightman" with her. She didn't ask me many questions, but I happily explained things to her when they happened. I resisted any and all impulses to cram a bunch of baseball info because with nascent fans, I believe that such actions are often an exercise in futility. It's not worth risking scaring her off as a baseball game attendee. I tried to make the experience fun without intensity. Most new fans don't want to be "schooled" in the ways of the game, they just want to take it in at their own pace and learn for themselves. If they have a good time, then that's all that is important. Ultimately, that's is why any of us do this, isn't it? I'd feared that the Nats would be outmatched tonight, and they were already behind when we got there, so rather than be upset and obsess about it (as I usually might) I simply de-stressed and allowed myself to enjoy what I had, rather than what I did not have. As a result, I had much more fun than I normally would have under such circumstances. Besides, baseball is always more fun with a friend.

Better luck Wednesday, I hope.

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