Padres, Speigner, doom Nats early in 11-3 snoozer OR Speigner still sputters, spoils Saturday night special
Did anyone get the number on that truck that ran over the Nats tonight?
Yes, it was #36 and it belonged to starter Levale Speigner. Speigner, who was called up to the starting rotation from the bullpen last month to cover for injured starters, has been very shaky, and if his previous start (a loss in St. Louis) didn't convince pitching coach Randy St. Claire and manager Manny Acta that the Speigner-as-starter experiment is a failure, then tonight's 11-3 loss ought to slam the door on that idea.
Speigner pitched 4 innings, allowing 6 runs on 7 hits, walking 1 and striking out 3. He threw 79 pitches (49 strikes, 62%) but the first inning was like extended batting practice. On MASN, Bob Carpenter called it, "Probably the Nats worst 1/2 inning all year." I lost count on how many times either catcher Brian Schneider or pitching coach Randy St. Claire (or both) came to the mound, but they seemed to do everything except hold his hand for him as the hits just kept coming. Throw away that first inning and Speigner did fairly well throwing 3 scoreless innings after his horrible first. Still, I think it's time to put him back into the pen.
To be fair to Speigner, there was some poorly-executed defense which didn't help him out one bit. Nook Logan let a ball fall in front of him on one such gaff. Left fielder Ryan Church and Shortstop Cristian Guzman allowed a sure pop-up for an out to drop between them for another. Guzman had a terrible night defensively, I hope it was just an anomaly and not a trend.
The Nats managed to rally a bit in the 6th inning, scoring 3 runs, including 2 off of a Dmitri Young homerun, and cutting the Padres lead to 6-3, but then they lost all momentum in the 7th as the Padres answered back with 3 of their own, plus another 2 in the 9th.
Cristian Guzman and Dmitri Young both went 2 for 4.
Ryan Report: Brutal. Church 0 for 4, Zimmerman 1 for 4 with an RBI, Langerhans 1 for 1 and Austin Ryan Kearns 0 for 4. Congratulations to Justin Germano and the Padres bullpen.
Well, at least the weather was pretty good, if a little muggy.
Ever wonder how I still manage to have fun at the ballpark and make my visits truly worthwhile? It's very simple really. To steal Jimmy Fallon's line from Fever Pitch, "Well, it's my summer family." I managed to get to the stadium just after 5:30, and after a quick check-in with Rico at his program stand, I bolted down to the area by the Nats dugout to see if I could get some autographs. To my very pleasant surprise, centerfielder Nook Logan was signing autographs in a very casual and relaxed atmosphere. I made my way over to him, allowing some kids to get in front of me (honestly, it HAS to mean more to them than it does to me, despite my complete ardor for all things Nationals. I'm there almost every single game, the kids might get one or two chances per season.) When my turn came, Nook politely signed my baseball and I told him how much I enjoy his flying around the outfield and the bases. He seemed to appreciate my comments. Nice guy, that Nook. No, I'm not at all surprised.
I saw my friend Ellie upstairs by the Press Cafeteria and chatted with her for a few moments. She always has the nicest things to say about people she sees and works with, and no, I'm not going to betray her confidence. It's never anything lurid or scandalous, she just loves her job and tells me a few cute anecdotes about what happens around the place. I like that she's happy working there and gets to work with great people.
I chatted a little bit with Susan, who ushers in the Diamond Club seats and the Home Plate suite. She's another great lady who loves her work and is always fun to talk to. Susan enjoys seeing the players with their wives and kids when they come to the park. I wish my seats were in her section, I enjoy her company.
I ran into Clint, the Nat Pack ringleader. I tried to finagle a t-shirt out of him. No dice! Gotta admire a man of integrity, right? So I encouraged him to throw more shirts into my section. It might happen, someday. Clint is hilarious, I'll bet he completely loves his job.
I managed to sit and enjoy the game with the Three Girls with Heart. They are not only a lot of fun to watch a Nats game with (being very enthusiastic and cheering loudly) they are also pretty well-informed, so they are great to talk Nats baseball with. They even taught me a cheer that some kids had been shouting at a recent game, and it was hilarious. I'd blog it here, but you should probably read it on their site, with their description of how they learned it. We saw a guy a couple of rows in front of us holding up a sign which read, "The guy behind us can't see!" Very funny! We talked and joked and laughed a lot, even trying to dance for the stadium cameras (fortunately for all present, I didn't get on camera). They showed me their autographed baseball, and they even did ME the favor of taking my baseball and getting pitcher Micah Bowie to autograph it. Very smart! All three of them are cute as can be, so getting a player to autograph a ball for them is child's play for them compared with my own efforts. I've said it before, I'm neither a small child nor an attractive female, so that drops me WAY down the totem pole of priority signings for players. Thanks again for the assist, girls!
I got my one beer from Howard. Thank goodness the 16 oz bottles are back, I sure needed one tonight. Had another corned beef sandwich from Attman's which filled me up nicely.
The announced crowns was 22,000+. I joked with some fans who showed up in the 3rd inning that I was proud of them for mot turning around and leaving before they even got to the stadium after the Nats were down early 6-0.
"Abe" won the President's Race, which included a water-gun fight between the "Rushmore Four" Funny.
After the game, I stuck around to watch Johnny Holliday and Ray Knight from Nats Extra do their postgame show live, and I waited patiently for them to finish so that I could try and get Ray Knight's autograph on a baseball. After a lady and her daughter spoke with him for a moment, I reintroduced myself to him and he remembered me from the last homestand. He signed my baseball and even personalized one for a co-worker of mine who has been a Mets fan since '62 and to whom Knight is a hero from the '86 World Series. If there is a nicer guy associated with major league baseball in any way, shape or form, then I'd like to meet him, because I can't imagine him being a nicer guy than Ray Knight. He was very kind to me, a real gentleman. We're lucky to have him on MASN. I also got to chat again with Johnny Holliday, and in the course of our conversation, he mentioned to me that he M.C'd the Beatles final concert in San Francisco 35-odd years ago. Pretty cool! I always thought of him as so local, it never would have occurred to me that he'd done anything along those lines on the west coast.
So as you can see, even though the Nats weren't at their best on the field, I still managed to have a wonderful time and I really enjoyed myself. I made some happy memories that I wouldn't trade for a dozen straight wins (I think...) That's part of what makes this such a great experience. It's simply the great people involved. Any wonder that baseball is America's Pasttime? It's all about community and fun. Wins are a happy bonus.
Speaking of community, I have to remember to bring my canned goods to the stadium for the Nats "Thanksgiving in June" promotion to benefit the Capitol Area Food Bank. Player's wives and girlfriends will be handing out swag (while supplies last) to donors, and I hope to be able to say "hello" to one or more of them.
Off to bed to dream of a Jason Simontacchi win on Sunday.