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Sunday, July 8, 2007

Nats rally in 5th, edge Brewers 5-4 OR Hot fun in the 5th

Wow, what a game that turned out to be!

After falling behind 2-0 before even getting to bat, I thought the Nats were in a time-warp back to the previous night, but they opened things up in the 5th inning, scoring 4 runs and eventually winning 5-4 on a steamy, 88 degree Saturday night before almost 25,000 fans.

Starter Jason Simontacchi pitched his best game of the season, a quality start, throwing 98 pitches for 67 strikes (68%) with 3 runs allowed on 8 hits, walking 1 but striking out 5. 3 of those hits were homeruns. He picked up the win, too, evening his record to 6-6.

The bullpen of Saul Rivera, Jon Rauch and Chad Cordero pitched very well, with Rivera giving up no hits, Rauch 1, and Cordero, "The Chief of Cardiology", 1 hit (a homerun!), 1 run and 1 walk, picking up a save in the process. Chad Cordero has been exciting to watch this season, he never makes it easy and some of his save opportunities are like a "cliff-hanger" from a movie serial. If he's in a save situation, I can't relax until the "Curly W" is in the books, as Charlie Slowes would say.

Ryan Report: Church went 3 for 3 with an R.B.I., Zimmerman went 1 for 5, Langerhans went 0 for 5, and Austin Ryan Kearns went 1 for 2 with 2 walks and 2 R.B.I.'s. Nice to see Kearns coming out of his slump. Langerhans also had the "Sports Center" catch of the night, as he saved what would have very easily been two Brewers runs in the 6th, by making a flat-out diving, fully-extended catch. VERY impressive. A great example of the Nats stifling defense all evening.

Felipe Lopez, Dmitri Young and Ronnie Belliard had the Nats other 3 hits, with Felipe's coming in the 7th, scoring Nook Logan, which put the Nats up 5-3. Brian Schneider was walked 3 times as the Brewers kept trying to get to the pitcher.

The 5th inning was where all the fun began. Ryan Langerhans grounded out, then Ronnie Belliard singled to center, then Ryan Zimmerman singled to center and then Belliard went to 3rd on a Brewer error. Dmitri Young then singled to right-field to score Belliard. Then Ryan Church singled to center, scoring Zimmerman - The rally was on! Austin Kearns then doubled to center, scoring Dmitri Young and Ryan Church - They had the lead! The inning finished with Felipe Lopez grounding out, Brian Schneider being intentionally walked, and pitcher Jason Simontacchi striking out. Suddenly, the Nats were up 4-2 and the crowd was pretty animated.

Funny thing - take away their homeruns and the Brewers had nothing tonight. I remarked to MASN's Ray Knight after the game, "Man, the Brewers make this park play small."

I take full credit for Ryan Church's 3 for 3 night, as I was wearing my #19 Nats jersey. I'm sure that I instilled some good mojo his way, because Clint, from the Nat Pack, selected me to model my jersey for their nightly jersey promotion at the end of the 2nd inning. I went down right by the Nats dugout, and stood there with a big smile on my face and did what they told me to do, which basically meant standing there and turning around when prompted. I did that perfectly. It was a whole lot of fun. Nobody "boo'd" me. I didn't hear any children crying, so I guess I didn't frighten them (I shaved extra-close, so I'd look my best up on the scoreboard) but those darned ushers failed to send what I'm certain must have been a bevy of admiring women over to my seating section. Darned the bad luck.

I didn't eat anything prior to the jersey promotion, as I feared getting my jersey dirty, but it was back to Capital Q for beef brisket, and then a beer from Howard. I checked in with everyone, except Ellie was taking the night off to actually attend the game with her husband, Roy, and friends. She told me that had a great time. I talked with some ushers and then settled in. In that fabulous 5th inning, I actually called Kearn's shot in a way, as I told the guy next to me that the Brewers were playing WAY deep and the gaps in center and left looked to me like par 4's, they were so large. I may not know much about this game, but I'm learning all the time, and I'm observing things that I might not even have noticed back in April.

The funniest President's Race of the season (possibly of the last TWO seasons) occurred when they came racing in during the 4th inning, led by some guy in a hot dog costume (parodying the famous Brewers racing sausages) and all of a sudden, "Tom" fell over and took the hot dog with him! "George" stepped over him and kept running, while "Abe" started to pound him! Then "Teddy" picked up the hot dog, and started to run with him and FELL OVER right on top of him! I don't think that I've ever laughed so hard at a Nationals game. I have to believe that this wasn't choreographed, that it all just unfolded that way.

It's always nice when the Nats win, but it even sweeter to beat such a good team, in this case the Central Division-leading Milwaukee Brewers. The Nats played probably their best game in 3 weeks, with a nice burst of offense and some great defense. All in all, a most satisfying Saturday night at good old R.F.K.

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