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Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Nats rally to halt Reds 6-3 OR Tuesday night hit parade

The Cincinnati Reds came to town Tuesday night and the Washington Nationals were only too glad to greet them. After falling behind 2-0, the Nats rallied in the 5th to surge ahead 4-2, finally winning the game 6-3 before 20,165. The Nationals close out the month of July having won 14 and lost 12.

Starter Matt Chico got a much-needed win, despite getting into trouble a few times. He gave up 2 runs on 9 hits, walked 3 and struck out 4 in his 5 innings. He threw 57 strikes on 90 pitches (66%). Congratulations, Matt!

By contrast, the bullpen of Saul Rivera, Luis Ayala and Chad Cordero almost shut the Reds down completely. Rivera allowed 2 hits, Ayala 1, and the Reds scored only 1 run in the last 4 innings. Chad notched his 22nd save of the season, on 9 pitches (6 strikes) and what a pleasure it was to see Chad on the mound tonight, almost 6 hours after the trade deadline. Rumors of his possible departure had been circulating for some time now, and it was so nice to know that he will still be a National for some time to come. "The Chief" is a beloved member of the Nats, and no fans wanted to see him leave.

Ryan Report: Terrific! Church went 2 for 4 with 2 R.B.I.'s and a double, Zimmerman went 2 for 4 with a bases-clearing double and 3 R.B.I.'s, Langerhans was 0 for 1, and Austin Ryan Kearns went 1 for 4.

The Nats were quite busy with the bats, as a matter of fact. Felipe Lopez was 3 for 5 with a double, Ronnie Belliard was 1 for 5 with an R.B.I., Nook Logan was 3 for 4 and also reached on a fielder's choice and had a double. 12 hits for the Nats, but the Reds had 12 hits, too, so why did the Nats dominate the Reds tonight? Well, the Reds also left 12 men on base, and there was some terrific defense by the Nats.

The defensive PLAY-OF-THE-GAME came in the 6th inning, when Ronnie Belliard took away a hit from the Reds Jeff Keppinger, who hit a line drive which ricocheted off of the shoe of pitcher Saul Rivera and went towards Belliard near 2nd, who, in one fluid motion, scooped the ball in his glove and pirouetted with his body to...well, it wasn't so much of a throw or toss as a lateral the ball BACKWARDS right to shortstop Felipe Lopez, who got an out at 2nd. It was pure poetry in motion, and MASN later replayed that play no fewer than 20 times. It has GOT to be the #1 highlight on ESPN's "Sports Center". Credit also had to go to Lopez for being right on top of that play and being prepared. Watch it here.

The lowlight for the Nats came in the 2nd inning when Brian Schneider walked to start the inning, then Nook Logan smacked the ball into far right field, all the way over to the corner. Reds rightfielder Ken Griffey Jr had to chase that ball into the corner, and Schneider was motoring around 2nd, and was already 1/4 of the way home when, for some strange reason, 3rd Base Coach Tim Tolman, held Schneider up, sending him back to 3rd, and Nook Logan, who was practically on Schneider's heels, he's so fast, had to race back to 2nd to avoid being tagged out. A chorus of "boos" rained down upon Tolman, and rightly so. There is NO WAY that Schneider wouldn't have scored, and Logan would have been on 3rd, with Matt Chico, the pitcher, coming up to bat next, with 2 outs. There is NO WAY that Ken Griffey was going to throw the ball 330 feet to home plate with any chance of getting Schneider out! But Griffey DID throw the ball to 2nd, and Logan was lucky to get back to the bag. Unbelieveable. Luckily, it didn't cost the Nats the game, but Tolman has firmly established himself as the "Human stop sign". One wonders what Manager Manny Acta, the former 3rd base coach for the Mets, had to say to him about that.

I was lucky to get off of work early, and despite gridlock traffic on the Southwest/Southeast freeway, due to an accident on the 11th street bridge, I got to the park on time. It's always nice to begin a new homestand. I made my rounds with Rico and Ellie, got my Capital Q Barbecue beef brisket sandwich from Dave and Maria, and went down to see some friends and get to my seat. Very warm night, 88 degrees at game time, humid too, I really thought the ball would be flying tonight. The most amazing thing to me about the win was, the Nats kept Griffey off the bases all night - he went 0 for 5!

Good evening, great times. Looking forward to tonight as John Lannan goes for his first home start. I sure hope that he has a better time than he did in Philadelphia last Thursday.

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