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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

One of my greatest days as a Washington Nationals Fan.

Two weeks ago today, I enjoyed one of the best days I've ever experienced as a Washington Nationals fan. It actually began just after midnight, when I'd gotten home from the Nats/Phillies game the night before, and I was watching the telecast that I'd recorded and knocking around the Internet reading baseball news. I knew that there was an outside chance that the Nats might sign 6th round draft pick Jack McGeary, and just before the midnight deadline for signing draft picks, so I went to Barry Svrluga's Nationals Journal on to see if there was any news. My jaw just about hit the floor when I read what he posted there, at around 11:53 p.m. that it was a done deal - wow! I was incredibly excited, realizing that this meant that the Nats were 20 for 20 on signing their top 20 draft picks, something that I believe only the San Francisco Giants had also done. With McGeary, that meant that the Nats had THREE lefties ranked in the top 15 prospects in the country, something that I would later hear from scouting director Dana Brown was almost unheard of, a feat that one might not ever see again for a generation. I guess to say that I was excited is really an understatement - I was ECSTATIC! This was unbelievably awesome. I emailed my friend with the Nationals who informed me that the deal had just been completed at 11:30 p.m. at the Capitol Grill restaurant (those of you who've paid attention will remember that the Capitol Grill is the same place where the Esmaylen Gonzalez signing occured) then they informed me that the press conference was at 4:00, and did I want to come? DID I? DID I? Are the home hats red? Does Manny Acta speak Spanish? Of COURSE I wanted to attend! At this point, I could barely get to sleep, I was dreaming about future Nats rotations with Ross Detweiler, Josh Smoker and Jack McGeary dominating the National League, alongside our "veterans" Shawn Hill, Jason Bergmann and Matt Chico (yes, I also dreamed that we'd go to a six-man starting rotation. Hey, it's my dream, okay?)

The next morning, I went to work and then left early to go to the ESPN Zone to meet Ryan Church. The good folks at the ESPN Zone had offered me a discounted lunch not long after USA Today-Sports ran that blogger piece where I answered some questions about the Nats and my blogging experience, so I decided to accept their offer that day. I arrived there early and met with their very nice marketing manager, Leigh Friedman, and she seated me in a prime spot where I could see Ryan, and I had a nice chicken caesar salad and an iced tea (gotta try and eat healthy were I can and, besides, I had to go back to work afterwards). The crowd was the largest one that they've had so far for one of these events, had to have been at least 50 people. (It was so many, that the Nationals folks with Ryan had to urge fans to get through the autograph line at the end quickly and only get one item autographed, since Ryan had to get back to R.F.K. for practice.) Once again, Charlie Slowes was the master of ceremonies and he got folks to participate in trivia contests, and ask Ryan some questions. My question to Ryan was the one about his showing patience at the plate this season. What I SHOULD have mentioned along with that question was, that it seems that his patience at the plate also translated into more walks, so he's getting on base more and that's a good thing. Ryan was very kind to every and all the fans, and I don't think that anyone left disappointed. He very kindly signed my "team" ball, and I got a photo with him (note: Ryan is the one on the right, I'm the big goof in dire need of a haircut).

(Photo credit: Shannon Parks)

While waiting in line, I had a brief but very nice chat with my server, Karen, who told me that she is a D.C. school teacher. If she takes as great care of her students as she did with me, then I have to think that she has very fortunate students, indeed. I think that she appreciated having so many more lunch tables to work with on what might otherwise be a slow August Thursday.

After briefly returning to work, I left for R.F.K. to attend the 4:00 press conference where the team introduced Jack McGeary. Please note, I was NOT there in any kind of "official" or blogger capacity, I was invited by a kind friend on the club who thought that I would enjoy seeing it as a devoted fan. I reported to the stadium where a nice intern, appropriately named Ryan, escorted me down to the press room, which looked familiar as I think it must be the same room where Manny Acta does most of his postgame conferences. As we walked towards the press room, I saw Manny Acta walking that way and speaking to someone, and it was all I could do not to rush up to him and say hello, but I restrained myself. Once inside the press room, I saw all the cameras set up and a few people eying me with what I thought to be a "Who the heck is that and why is he here?" look. (Ha!) I saw MASN's Debbi Taylor, and sat in her row of chairs. We even chatted for a brief moment about McGeary and the almost-unprecedented deal that the Nationals gave him, paying for his Stanford college tuition and having him play baseball for them in the summer. The signing bonus was definitely out-of-slot where the league is concerned, but it was brave of the Nationals to do that, and I have to believe that team president Stan Kasten was the point man on that argument. The Nationals owners and management aren't mavericks, they don't do things differently just for the sake of being different. They seem perfectly willing to abide by and operate within the framework that MLB uses and not be boatrockers, but as general manager Jim Bowden explained to the press, this was a unique situation, and Jack McGeary was a special individual. He was worth 1st round money, and should have gone in the first round to any other club with the vision to draft him, which they didn't. The Nationals had that vision.

I saw Mr. and Mrs. McGeary, Jack's parents, and when the press conference started, Jim Bowden introduced manager Manny Acta by stating that the last time that he, himself, had predicted that someone would win an award, they did, and Bowden was predicting that Acta would win National League Manager of the Year. Acta leaned to his side, rather askance, and playfully said, "Stop...." to much laughter. It was a happy, funny moment. Acta is humble, and possibly a tad uncomfortable with such adulation, given the team's record, but I was ready to applaud right then and there (heck, maybe I did, I can't remember..) Bowden introduced Jack McGeary, scouting director Dana Brown, development director Bob Boone, and it was a nice press conference, everybody happy and smiling, including yours truly.

After the press conference, I had to leave the stadium, but since it was so close to the time the gates would open for the night's game anyway, I drove to the proper parking lot and entered the stadium right when the gates opened, at 5:30. I said a quick hello to Rico and ran down towards the Nats dugout to try and get some autographs. I managed to get Luis Ayala's autograph on my team ball, and it was kind of funny. I allowed some kids to get in ahead of me (really, it has to be more important to them, and how often do they get to go to the games, compared with me?) and Ayala saw that I had a Sharpie pen and he needed one, so he asked me if he could borrow mine. Naturally, I said, "Sure!" and I just HAD to add, "Anything for the best guy in our bullpen!" That made him smile, which was nice to see, it meant that he was enjoying the moment. I'd handed him my ball along with my Sharpie, and when he handed them back, I didn't think that he'd signed my ball, so I proferred it again, and Ayala said that he had signed it, whereby I looked at it and noticed that, indeed, he had. "Oh!", I said, "you signed it so fast that I didn't even notice! Thanks!" Ayala smiled and was off. As I was standing there, I saw the McGeary's walking off of the field, where they had been observing practice and chatting with various folks. Since I recognized them, as they came off of the field, I asked Jack McGeary, "Mr. McGeary? May I be the first Nats fan to request your autograph?" (Yes, he's 18 years old, and I'm calling him "Mister" - well, he makes a lot more money than I do, so he's earned the right to be called "Mr." McGeary now). At that, both Jack McGeary and his parents smiled and seemed very tickled to be asked. I always bring a brand new unwrapped baseball for just such an occasion, and I got it out and offered it up. Some guy standing next to me beat me to it, but I still believe that I hold the honor of being the first Nats fan to ask him for an autograph on a ball. You can believe that I will follow his career with more than a passing interest. I applauded the McGeary's and thanked them for having Jack sign and congratulated them for getting everything that they wanted, his Stanford education assured and a career in baseball. My only regret is that I didn't have the presence of mind to get a photograph with him. I'm pleased to report that Jack McGeary is a polite young man, very tall (I'm 6'3" and he's taller than I am) and I told the McGeary's that I hoped to be able to blog nice things about Jack for many years to come. Jack, if you should ever happen to read this, thanks again, you made this fan's day.

Now completely floating from meeting Ryan Church and Jack McGeary, I walked up towards the press cafeteria to say hello to Ellie and chat a bit. After we talked, I noticed a familiar-looking man walk out of the cafeteria and towards the railing of the Terrace Food Court. I looked at Ellie and gave her one of those, "Is that who I think it is?" looks, and she just nodded her head. So I walked over to the man and introduced myself - "Mr. Lerner?" I asked, and Mr. Theodore Lerner, the principal owner of the Washington Nationals turned around and spoke with me. I introduced myself, and when I informed him that I was an 81-game season ticket holder, he smiled. He seemed very pleased to be able to speak with a season ticket holder and I was only too happy to congratulate him on his family's ownership of the team, and on that day's Jack McGeary signing. He didn't say much, but I didn't expect him to be a verbose man, quite the contrary, I imagined him to be a man of very few words, but when he DID speak, it meant something, and you listened. He DID say in response to my thanking him on the McGeary signing that it was a big step for them, but I assured him that it was the RIGHT step, and that every true Nationals fan was behind it 100%. I am extremely proud of the Lerner family's ownership of the Nationals, and it meant the world to me to be able to thank Mr. Theodore Lerner personally.

I swore that I'd recall every detail of that day, and I wish that I had written about it before two weeks had gone by, but I seem to recall that the rest of the evening was less-memorable. I know that I already blogged about the game, though - The Phillies beat the Nats, which was the sole sour note of what was one of the greatest days I've ever had as a fan of the Washington Nationals. A day that I'll never forget.

Nats can't "Dodge" sweep, fall to L.A. 10-9 in 12 OR Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home

The Washington Nationals capped off a brutal 10-game-in-10-days road trip with a final loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, 10-9 in 12 innings, thus completing a Dodgers home sweep. The Nationals have lost 7 straight games.

This game began with tremendous promise, as the Nats took a 4-0 lead in the 2nd inning, and starter Shawn Hill was pitching well. I was expecting a near-epic pitcher's duel with Hill vs. Penny, two of the best pitchers in the National League. It didn't turn out that way, and Penny left the game in the 5th inning, which only bolstered my hopes that the Nats could take their bullpen.

They couldn't.

It's difficult to remember that, at one point, the Nats led this game 8-3. When Penny exited, they led 6-3, and they managed to get 2 more runs off of Mark Hendrickson. Thnigs were looking up.

Shawn Hill lasted 5 1/3 innings and allowed 6 earned runs on 7 hits, walked only 1 and struck out 4. He threw 63 strikes on 96 pitches (66%) and looked pretty fair for the first 5 innings.
Then the wheels came off of the bus. In the bottom of the 6th inning, Hill struggled and when he exited, the Dodgers rocked Luis Ayala for 2 runs on 4 hits to tie the score at 8-8. To say that I was getting nervous was an understatement. Ayala got the blown save and Rivera took the loss. The only positives to come out of the bullpen's outing was scoreless outings by Jésus Colomé, Jon Rauch, Chris Schroeder and Chad Cordero.

Ryan Report: Church went 4 for 5 with a double and an R.B.I. What a great day he had, hitting his 37th double (only 13 more to reach his goal of 50 before the end of the season).
Zimmerman went 1 for 5 with a walk and an R.B.I. Austin Ryan Kearns went 1 for 5.

Felipe Lopez went 1 for 6, Nook Logan went 2 for 5 with a walk and 3 R.B.I.'s, D'Angelo Jimenez and Robert Fick each went 2 for 6, Jimenez with 1 R.B.I. and Fick with 2, including the one off of his homer, his first of the year, and Jésus Flores went 3 for 5 with a double and an R.B.I.

The game was certainly dramatic, and if the Nats had pulled off the win, it would be fondly remembered as a great end to an otherwise lousy roadtrip. Instead, it will be remembered as the game where the Nats failed to avoid a second consecutive sweep and went home with more questions than answers.

Nats continue slide, lose to Dodgers 4-3 OR All hopes on Hill

Another beautiful night in Los Angeles, another 1-run Nats loss. This is getting depressing.

The Nats scored first again, and the game was close the entire time, but the Dodgers scored the go-ahead run in the 7th inning and held on for the 4-3 win.

Nats starter Jason Bergmann, fresh off of his rehab starts, pitched well enough, going 6 innings, allowing 3 runs on 6 hits, walking 1 and only striking out 1. He threw 55 strikes on 89 pitches (62%) and gave up 1 homer. Bergmann's start was encouraging. He may only have 5 starts remaining in the season, but if he keeps pitching this way, and improving, he should be just fine.

Chris Schroeder took the loss, allowing 1 hit on 1 run.

Ryan Report: Church went 0 for 3, Zimmerman 0 for 4, and Austin Ryan Kearns 1 for 3.

Despite the losses, Dmitri Young continues to be productive, going 2 for 3 with an R.B.I and a double and a walk. No small wonder that he's being talked about for some hitting titles and possible awards.

Ronnie Belliard had a nice triple. Tony Batista had a surprising pinch-hit homer. Felipe Lopez had a costly error, though he did go 2 for 4.

Any chance to right this roadtrip rests with Shawn Hill, who has been brilliant but lacked run support or, in the case of last Saturday, relief support. He's matched up against the 14-4 Brad Penny. Should be a wicked pitcher's duel. Let's hope Hill comes out on top.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Nats homer, homer, homer but fall to Dodgers 5-4 OR Sick Bacsik can't Dodge loss

The Nats hoped to salvage their roadtrip in Chavez Ravine on Monday night, but it was not to be, as they rallied from an early 2-run deficit only to fall to the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-4.

The game was not without it's highlights for Nats fans, as they were treated to homers from Wily Mo Peña, Dmitri Young and Ryan Zimmerman, quite possibly the first time the Nats have ever had three homers in one game only to lose (I await the corrective comments from astute observers who have better memories than I do as to whether or not my statement holds water).

Starter Mike Bacsik struggled early but worked well until the 5th inning, when the wheels fell off of the bus.

For me, watching Wily Mo Peña do his best Kirk Gibson (or, dare I say it, Roy Hobbs?) imitation was the highlight of the evening. Peña, who hurt his foot on a previous pitch, took a 3-2 pitch over the wall to put the Nats on top, at least temporarily. Peña limped to first base and was replaced in the game by Ryan Church. It's a pretty impressive sight to see a player who is obviously hurt, play through pain to sacrifice himself for his team. No, it didn't win the game, but it brought the Nats back from the dead and put them right back into the game. You can't underestimate the morale boost that sort of thing can give.

Ryan Report: Church went 0 for 3, Zimmerman went 1 for 3 with that homer, and Austin Ryan Kearns went 1 for 4.

These West Coast games just wear on me, and I fell asleep sometime around the 7th inning. Not much else of import happened for the visiting team, but hopefully they will make the most of Jason Bergmann's first start after coming off of the D/L.

Box score for those who simply can't resist.

Oh, and I thought for half a second that THIS item was about yours truly - darn it.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Saturday/Sunday Nats wrap-up OR Altitude sickness

The Washington Nationals dropped both the Saturday night game (5-1) and Sunday afternoon game (10-5) to the Colorado Rockies, in Denver. Neither Tim Redding (Saturday) nor Joel Hanrahan could contain the Rockies batters.

Neither game was particularly compelling, if you're a Nationals fan, so I thought that I'd give an abbreviated account of both.

The Saturday game was more fun for me, personally, because I got to watch it from the comfy confines of Miss Chatter's backyard as we and several friends enjoyed "baseball on the barn". William Yurasko was there with his wife, as was D.C. Sportschick with her boyfriend husband. Despite a little rain (less than the folks who went to the Redskins-Ravens pre-season game got, apparently) a good time was had by all. Miss Chatter whipped up some excellent picnic food, including burgers and hot dogs on the grill. Yours truly brought some stadium-issue 16 oz. aluminum Budweiser and Bud Light bottles, and Mr. Yurasko brought the Beefeater and Schweppes tonic. Too bad we had more fun than the Nats did.

I suppose that, after the "Friday night massacre" of that terrible 9th inning, some of the enthusiasm for this road trip was knocked right out of me.

The highlight of the Saturday game was watching reliever Chris Schroeder work 3 innings and strike out 5 batters.

Ryan Report: Zimmerman went 0 for 4. Austin Ryan Kearns went 2 for 3 with a walk.

Here's the boxscore, if you are so inclined:

Here I had hopes, too, that somehow Rockies reliever Jorge Julio would come to our rescue and give up some runs, but it was not to be. It would appear that Rockie's pitching coach Bob Apodaca has worked with Julio to correct his error-prone ways. Well, that just takes all of the fun out of seeing him come in for a relief appearance for me. As soon as I saw him on the mound, I perked up and got my hopes going. Alas, he allowed no runs.

The Sunday game, like the Saturday game, began with the Nats scoring first. Unhappily, Joel Hanrahan had a terrible outing. He simply couldn't get anyone out. It wasn't any fun to watch. The Nats lost 10-5 and it wasn't ever really close after the 2nd inning.

Ryan Report: I was very relieved to see Ryan Church back in the lineup, having sat out the past 2 nights to allow Wily Mo Peña some playing time. It has had me greatly worried, since I believe that Ryan Church isn't ideally suited for coming off the bench, and I'm concerned that the team might get TOO used to playing without him. He only went 1 for 4, but that 1 was a 2-run homer that sparked the Nats back to life a little bit. Zimmerman went 1 for 3 with a 2-out homer. Austin Ryan Kearns had another good day, going 2 for 4 with 2 R.B.I.'s

For the morbidly curious:

Yeah, I'm not sorry to see the last of Coors Field for the year. Perhaps they'll have better luck against the Dodgers.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Rockies rally, Nats drop ball 6-5 OR Things to do in Denver when you're dead

Y'know, I love Chad Cordero, but he sure has a way of taking what should be 3 routine outs to close a game and turning them into thrilling cliffhanger. In this case, the story went right over the cliff.

Starter Shawn Hill pitched a dandy, holding the Rockies to 1 run, Luis Ayala held them to no runs, then the moment Chad got on the mound, the rollercoaster ride began: 1 hit, then 1 homerun, suddenly it's 5-3 Nats and a save situation. Chad began loading the bases, allowing 4 hits and not retiring a single batter. That was enough for Nats Manager, Manny Acta. He sent Chad out and called in the big fella, Jon Rauch. Poor Jon entered the game with the bases loaded and no outs, in one of the worst pitcher's parks in baseball. Suddenly, he allows a hit, and the Rockies scored 2 runs to tie the game. Both Cordero and Rauch got nailed for a blown save. Then it was just a matter of trying to wiggle out of the jam, and it almost worked until a little single up the middle couldn't be contained by D'angelo Jimenez and the winning run scored from 3rd.

[Expletives deleted]

The first error of this roadtrip and it cost the Nats the game, but of course, the game was almost over long before that. This was a strong candidate for "worst loss of the season", as the Nats had the Rockies up against the wall. All they needed was 3 quick outs and the game was theirs.

Let's hang a name on it already. I hereby dub this the "Coors Field Curse". We just can't catch a break there.

I'm too angry and frustrated to post anymore tonight, I work Saturdays, so I'll pick this up later.

*EDIT* Okay. After sleeping on this, it doesn't seem any better. Shawn Hill got robbed of a much-deserved win. 1 run on 4 hits and 5 strikeouts? C'mon! That should have been light's-out, goodnight time. The bullpen has been the strength, but I just don't know if A) the Rockies have the book on Chad memorized, or B) Chad was throwing the wrong pitches. It isn't unusual for him to allow men on base, though. Chad makes good use of the defense to snag long flies in cavernous R.F.K. and other bigger parks, and also allow batters to ground into double plays, but there is no defense against the homerun ball.

If there were a category for "should have won's", then this game would be at the top of the Nats list. All they can do now is try to learn from it.

I don't know anything from anything about pitching, but it seems to me that sinkerball pitchers do better in Coors Field. Didn't Zach Day wind up there at one point? His strength was his sinkerball. Wasn't Shawn Hill throwing sinkers? Everything looked down to me, but I'll admit I wasn't glued to every pitch. I believe that I heard Don Sutton mention on MASN that curveballs just "hang" there, begging to be hit, so pitchers avoid those. I don't recall hearing anything about fastballs, though.

Ryan Report: Church didn't play, but Zimmerman went 3 for 4 with 3 R.B.I.'s and a homer. I think he likes that ballpark. Austin Ryan Kearns went 0 for 4.

"Way-out" Wily Mo, went yard again, going 2 for 4 with that homer, Dmitri Young went 1 for 4 with an R.B.I., Ronnie Belliard went 2 for 4 and Jésus Flores went 1 for 4.

By God, I hope that Tim Redding has a good outing and gets some run support and bullpen help. The Nats need to put this crap-sandwich of a game behind them and nothing causes amnesia like a nice win.

Nats take Astros 7-6, take series OR Hanging on for dear life

I didn't really see much of this game. It was very strange. Allow me to explain.

I was invited to have dinner at a friend's restaurant Thursday evening, very last minute, but as I always have my DVR record the Nats games, I wasn't worried about watching it later on. So I had my dinner, saw some friends and got caught up with their lives, which was really nice. Afterwards, I trundled on home, and flipped on MASN2, and there was something horribly wrong, either with the signal, my DVR or the MASN broadcast.

The whole game was playing with an almost cyclical interruption, including screen-pauses, "ghosting" images and sound breaks. It was maddening to watch. I tried different things, like switching channels (only seemed to show up on MASN2) I tried stopping the recording and just watching the rest of the game without recording it, and that didn't help. It was impossible to enjoy. As a weird adjunct to this, DirecTV listed this as "Nationals at Rockies" rather than "Nationals at Astros". Maybe that was the root of the problem, the MASN folks were trying to cause a rift in the time-space continuum, and that resulted in my crappy picture and sound. I'm tellin' ya, it was like watching a T.V. that was haunted or filled with gremlins. As I write this, I'm watching the actual Friday night Nationals-Rockies game, and I am recording it without incident. Clear, clean DirecTV picture, no glitches.

The Nats had a good beginning, jumping off to a 5-0 start, and then tacking on 2 more to hang on by the skin of their teeth for the win. Chad Cordero almost blew it in the 9th, with the score 7-4, as he allowed 2 runs, but he got his save.

Ryan Report: Church went 0 for 4, but he had an R.B.I. Zimmerman went 1 for 3 with an R.B.I. double and a walk, and Austin Ryan Kearns had a great night, going 3 for 4 with a walk and an R.B.I. Lately, he's on fire, having readjusted his hands for better effect.

Ronnie Belliard went 2 for 5 with a homer and 2 R.B.I.'s Nook Logan went 2 for 5 raising his batting average to a torrid .289, second only to All-Star Dmitri Young. Nook Logan is living proof of the enduring wisdom of Bull Durham's Crash Davis, who warned the youngsters on his team, "
You just got lesson number one: don't think; it can only hurt the ball club." Nook has attributed his recent success to the practice of not thinking at the plate, just hitting. It seems to be working. Dmitri Young went 2 for 4 with a double and an R.B.I.

Glad to see the Nats take a road series, especially a 4-game one. Now onto Denver and see what the Rockies have to bring. Maybe this is the roadtrip that will finally bring some Nationals success in Denver - I believe that they have yet to win a game there since becoming the Washington Nationals. With Shawn Hill on the mound on Friday night, I believe that they have a good chance.

Nats can't outlast Astros, fall 3-2 OR Houston a problem for D.C.

The Washington Nationals lost this 3rd game of the Houston Astros series 3-2, and it wasn't the most engaging of contests.

I fell asleep. Didn't know who won until the next morning.

Starter Mike Bacsik was out-dueled by Houston's Woody Williams. Williams, who just turned 41 at the beginning of the week, struck out 8 in his 6 1/3 innings, and only allowed 2 runs on 8 hits(one of them a homer off of Austin Kearns) and 2 walks. I usually don't write this much about an opposing pitcher, but I'm less than a year older than Williams is, so it serves to fuel my Walter Mitty-esque dreams of suddenly becoming the next Roy Hobbs. Bacsik, on the other hand, allowed 3 runs on 3 hits (as with Williams, one of them a homer), struck out 4 and walked 1 in his 6 innings.

Ryan Report: Church and Zimmerman each got one hit. Hooray.

Not much to really say about this game, and since I missed most of it, I won't. Just as well. I hate blogging about the road losses.

Box score HERE for the morbidly curious.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Hanrahan hammers and Logan, Zimmerman hit Houston hard 11-6, grab 4th place in N.L. East OR Wandy wonders, "Hey, wha' happen?"

Memo to Nationals Manager Manny Acta: Who was that guy wearing #7 and hitting in the number 2 spot, and what on earth did you do with Nook Logan?

Logan went 5 for 6, with 3 R.B.I.'s and raised his batting average to .287, as the Nats clobbered the Houston Astros 11-6. Logan's 5 hits represented a new career high, and the only thing that kept him from getting a 6th hit was due to a broken bat. I think that if Logan HAD gone 6 for 6, the league office would be investigating him for possible steroid abuse. This is NOT the Nook Logan that we've been watching all season, but since the All-Star break, Logan has really picked up his game. He didn't look quite as sharp over the recent homestand, but then almost none of the Nats did. Still, abandoning the switch-hitting experiment seems to have cleared his mind and made it easier for him to just play, not think so hard, as he implied was a key to his recent success.

Not to be forgotten, Ryan Zimmerman was a double away from hitting for the cycle, and might have done exactly that in the 9th inning, but he was walked. Zimmerman went 3 for 5 with a walk and 4 R.B.I.'s. He homered, tripled and singled. Fun to watch!

Starter Joel "The Hammer" Hanrahan had a pretty fair outing, going 5 innings and allowing 3 runs and 3 walks on 7 hits. He threw 60 strikes on 92 pitches (65%). Not so good to have to go to the bullpen in the 6th inning, but what the heck, they were rested. Jésus Colomé, Ray King, Luis Ayala and Chris Schroeder managed to hold the Astros to 3 runs on 7 hits, with the last 2 coming in the 9th inning.

Ryan Report: Church went 0 for 1 in a pinch-hitting role, Zimmerman had the aforementioned 4 R.B.I's on 3 hits, nearly cycling, Austin Ryan Kearns went 0 for 3 but was walked twice, and Joel Ryan Hanrahan went 0 for 2 at the plate but did alright on the mound.

Other Nats hits came from Dmitri Young (1 for 2, walked twice), Wily Mo Peña (1 for 5 with an R.B.I.), Ronnie Belliard (1 for 4 with an R.B.I. double and a walk), Brian Schneider (2 for 4 with a double and a walk), and Tony Batista (1 for 3 with an R.B.I.). Nook Logan, as mentioned above, had a career night, 5 for 6 with a double and 3 R.B.I.'s.

The Astros starter, Wandy Rodrigues, had a pretty incredible home record at Minute Maid Park this season, having not lost at home since May 30th, and was 6-2 with a 1.67 E.R.A. at home. Given that the Nats and the Astros entered Tuesday night's action with identical 56-69 records, it's my guess that Rodrigues, who took the loss, was left to ponder the immortal words of Mike Lafontaine.

So the Nats have rebounded well so far from their 1-5 homestand and have a chance to win this road series on Wednesday night with Mike Bacsik starting against Woody Williams. Now that they've grabbed sole possession of 4th place in the National League East for the second time in 2 weeks, thanks to their winning and the Florida Marlins losing, perhaps they can try to hold onto it this time.

Congratulations to Ryan Zimmerman once again, for getting another day in his major league career being on a team that isn't in last place. For the time being. Let's all hope that this is the last time Ryan is ever on a last place team again.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Nats ground Astros 7-0 OR "Houston? We have a problem.."

Forget Hurricane Dan, the Houston Astros had better worry about the Washington Nationals.

The Nats began this 3 city roadtrip by roaring into Houston's Minute Maid Park and taking the Astros 7-0. It began with a big solo homer from Wily Mo Peña in the 2nd inning which ignited the offense and got them going in the 3rd.

Starter Tim Redding, returning to his Astros roots, wasn't flawless, but he had a defense behind him that was on their toes the entire game and got some crucial, timely double plays. He allowed 6 hits and walked 3 batters in his 7 innings, throwing 70 strikes on 116 pitches (60%). Those 116 pitches might be the season high that Manager Manny Acta has allowed one of his starters to throw, I can't be certain, but it seems likely.

The bullpen of....well, Jésus Colomé, making his first start since coming off of the D/L from his soft-tissue infection on his right buttock, looked as though he hadn't missed a beat, allowing only 1 walk and 1 hit but no runs in his 2 innings of work. No if's, and's, or but's about it. (ba-DUM-bump!) Welcome back, Jésus!

The great thing about this, of course, is that the rest of the bullpen got the night off, a valuable gain given that there are 9 more games on this roadtrip, and trips to 2 more cities.

Ryan Report: Church went 2 for 4 with an R.B.I. double, his 36th double of the season, only 14 shy of his season-goal of 50, Zimmerman went 0 for 4 with a walk, and Austin Ryan Kearns went 3 for 4 walk and 2 doubles. Incidentally, having mentioned Ryan Wagner yesterday, he happened to drop by the Nats clubhouse this evening, his home being in Texas. According to MLB, "
Ryan Wagner, the right-handed pitcher who is out for the season with surgery on his right rotator cuff in May, dropped by the Nats clubhouse on Monday. Wagner, who came over as part of the Kearns trade last year, lives in Yoakum, Texas, about 120 miles west of Houston. "He's just checking in," Acta said. "He's not able to throw a ball for two more months."

The Nats big hits came in the 2nd and 3rd inning, beginning with Wily Mo Peña's solo homer (he went 3 for 4 with 2 R.B.I's and a walk) and included Felipe Lopez going 1 for 5, Ronnie Belliard going 3 for 4 with a double and a walk, and Dmitri Young going 2 for 4 with a 3-run homer.

After going 1 for 5 on the last homestand, victimized by the Phillies/Mets collective buzzsaws, this was a welcome bit of relief for us suffering Nats fans. Very nice to get a laugher. The club needed a win in the worst way, a little morale booster.

Have to give props to General Manager Jim Bowden again for Wily Mo Peña. He may not cure all of the Nats ills, but he seems to be as refreshing as a bracing gin and tonic in hot, sticky August. At least he's exiting to watch, there's a palpable sense of anticipation when he comes to bat, especially with men on base, as he proved tonight. His personal chemistry is a perfect fit with what the Nats already have going on in their clubhouse. I hope that this is the club that finally helps him to flourish and reach his true baseball potential.

Hope Joel "The Hammer" Hanrahan can keep this scoreless streak going.

Nats swept by Mets 8-2 OR Homestand horrors and homeruns

On Sunday, the Nats got swept by the Mets 3 games to zero to complete a 1 and 5 homestand. Not even the early heroics of new outfielder Wily Mo Peña, who hit a 2-run homer off of the left field upper deck facing to briefly put the Nats ahead 2-1, could salvage a thorough and sound drubbing by the team from Queens.

Starter Shawn Hill wasn't quite the lethal menace to the Mets as he was to the Phillies last week, but he did yeoman work on the mound, allowing 5 hits but only 2 runs and he went 7 innings, which was good for the bullpen. He walked 2 and struck out 2, and one of his allowed hits was a 1st inning homer, but his outing was still very encouraging. It's too bad that they had him on a pitch count, he might have been able to go 8 innings. As it was, he threw 58 strikes on 88 pitches (66%).

Our bullpen of Jon Rauch and Chris Schroeder was less than stellar, with Rauch allowing 4 runs on 4 hits. This broke the 2-2 stalemate in the 8th inning and finished the Nats for the day. Chris Schroeder (happy birthday, Chris!) allowed a walk and a 2-run homer to drive the final nails in the Nats coffin. Oh, well, everyone has an off-day once in a while. They've been so good for so long, the odds were bound to catch up with them eventually.

Ryan Report: Church was back in left field, and he went 0 for 4, Zimmerman went 1 for 4 with an R.B.I., and Austin Ryan Kearns also went 0 for 4. Congratulations to "El Duque".

The Nats only managed to get 3 hits all afternoon - Zimmerman, Peña and Robert Fick. That's never going to be enough against the Mets.

Perhaps they'll have better luck against the Astros. When they were here recently, the Nats went 2-1 on them. Hope that Oswalt has an off-day.

A weird day, weather-wise. It was supposed to be sunny and cooler, due to that high-pressure system, but the rain clouds and overcast came early. 73 degrees at 1:35 game time with a 10 m.p.h. wind - hardly a typical August day but quite welcome. I had a couple of raindrops on my car when I hit the parking lot, but I needed my sunblock by the time the game started. Naturally, I left my sunglasses in the car (ha!).

After greeting Rico at the gate, I went upstairs to see Ellie, and I wound up having one of my most interesting ballpark encounters of the entire season. Now some bloggers have interviewed the National's T.V. play-by-play announcer Bob Carpenter and some have interviewed the Nationals T.V. color commentator, Hall-of-Famer Don Sutton. Well, I'm pleased to announce that I've scooped them all. Through a lot of luck and perfect timing, I got the opportunity to interview someone who knows all of the Nationals players, and probably hundreds more around the league, as well as lots of Hall-of-Famers. This person gets to see the players up close, in batting practice and often in the off-season as well. I'm talking about the one, the only, Jackie Sutton.

Now, Jackie may be young (I'd say 11 years old, but I'm pretty lousy at age guesses), but she's a seasoned baseball observer. When I met her yesterday for her interview (well, perhaps "interview" is a slight exaggeration...) she was introduced to me and I shook her hand and told her how much I admired her dad (the aforementioned Hall-of-Famer and MASN color commentator Don Sutton). Hearing that, a jaded look crept across her face that I'm sure so many celebrity children get when the umpteenth person tells them how much they admire their parent. I even said, "I'm sure that you hear that all the time, huh?", and she just nodded. Oh, how us overeager fans must tax the patience of even the most well-mannered kids. I quickly changed the subject and asked her how she liked one of my favorite restaurants in the Coachella Valley of Southern California (where the Suttons make their home). Suddenly, her face lit up with animation and she said that her family ate there all the time. I asked her who her favorite Nationals were, noticing that she was sporting a snappy Brian Schneider t-shirt, and she found that a difficult question to answer, she likes them all so much. I showed her the baseball that I'm currently using to gather as many player signatures as possible, and she looked at it with great interest, asking me who all of the signatures belonged to. Our conversation about that went something like this:

Me: "This one here is Matt Chico."
JS: "I know him!"
Me: "This one is Luis Ayala."
JS: "I know him!"
Me: "This one is John Patterson."
JS: "I know him!"
Me: "This one is Micah Bowie."
JS: "I know him!"
Me: "This one is Ryan Langerhans."
JS: "I know him!"
Me: "This one is Ryan Church."
JS: "I know him!"
Me: "This one is Nick Johnson."
JS: "I know him!"

Well, the rest of that conversation went pretty much the same way. I was so envious of her player acquaintances, and I joked to her that I needed to borrow her to help me get more signatures on my baseball. Her reply: "Nope!" (ha!)

One thing that Jackie did for me was, she acted as my messenger to get a short note to Bob Carpenter. Basically, I just wanted to ask him to address on the air what the Houston Astros and/or Major League Baseball had as contingency plans in case Hurricane Dan threatened Houston this week while the Nationals were there. Since I record the broadcasts, I'd see his answer. I even bumped into team President Stan Kasten and asked him, "Are we concerned about Hurricane Dan?" and he responded in the affirmative, mentioning that they were monitoring it closely. Fortunately for Texas, it appears today that Dan is headed towards Central Mexico. It shouldn't affect Houston at all, but who knows, they might get some rain as a result, and with all of the heavy rain that Texas has had this month, any more rain will cause flooding, so it bears paying attention to still. (I watched the broadcast later and Bob did, indeed, address the question. Basically, they have to wait and see what the track of the hurricane is going to be)

After that, a member of the MASN crew appeared and presented her with a whoopee-cushion advertising the Fox T.V. show, "Family Guy" that was being given away out in front of the Main Gate. There were costumed characters from the show doing photo ops, and Jackie was excited to see them, so she went down and got her picture taken with them, and then came racing back up to show it to her mom (who was nearby).

For a brief moment, her dad appeared, sneaking up behind her to give her a laugh, and the smile of pride on Don Sutton's face was irrepressible. He is obviously a devoted family man, and you can just tell that Jackie is the jewel of his life. I've been told that when Jackie and her mom visit the stadium, Jackie plays catch with her dad on the field. What an amazing childhood she must have. I later remarked to Bob Carpenter that Jackie must have more big brothers and uncles around the country than any other kid, and Bob indicated that she is, indeed, every players favorite "niece".

This is a perfect example of the kind of personally rewarding experiences that I've enjoyed being a Washington Nationals season ticket holder. Getting to meet the folks who bring us baseball and, more enjoyably, getting to know a little bit about their private side, the side that most fans just don't know much about. It's always a joy to see just what wonderful people they truly are, behind their more public personas, and how and why they are involved with the team. The season is relatively short, only 6 months of the "regular" season, and for a fan like me it's not long enough to get to know some of these people as well as I'd like to, but it means the world to me to be able to show them a little bit of my appreciation and affection for how much they enrich my own life.

During the game, I got my beer from Howard, and he told me that, last Sunday (when the Nats were on the road) and he was vending at Camden Yards for the Orioles, he was on T.V. for several moments of the Fox broadcast. He had just run out of beer and was responding to fan requests that they be allowed some free ice. So, Howard was tossing some ice to some fans (it was a VERY hot day) and the T.V. cameras picked it up and an announcer declared that one of the vendors had, apparently, gone berserk from the heat and was throwing ice on people (!!!!) My God, that made me laugh, Howard described it so perfectly, and I could just picture him doing exactly what he described. That's a moment that I'd pay good money to see on YouTube.

The highlight of the game play for me was watching Wily Mo Peña's homer off of the upper deck facing in left field. My gosh, that guy really can hit, and he will be a fun player to watch. I'm prepared for him to strike out a lot, Manager Manny Acta said that "power guys do that", so I'm not expecting him to be the next coming of Mickey Mantle, but perhaps the next coming of Frank Howard? I'd settle for that.

At the end of the game, the club handed out 35,000 Post Points Softee baseballs, courtesy of the Washington Post. Those were kind of fun. Since there were only 29,062 tickets sold, that meant that there were several thousand extra of these things available to enterprising fans.

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No fun to get swept by the Mets, or any other team for that matter, but at least it was a fun day and the weather cooperated. Hopefully, the next time these teams meet, the results will be in the Nats favor.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Nats can't contain Mets, lose 7-4 OR Of bobbleheads, baffled batters, and Wily Mo

If there has been a prettier night for a Nats loss this season, then I can't recall when it was. Saturday evening was positively gorgeous, mid-September weather in mid-August. 79 degrees and low humidity, high pressure, partly cloudy, but very pretty clouds. A little 6 m.p.h. breeze, too. Hopes were high, Mets fans were in high spirits (some quite literally) and Abe Lincoln bobbleheads were on the minds of over 35,000 fans, as the Washington Nationals lost to the New York Mets for the second straight night, this time 7-4.

The Saturday game was much better than the Friday night game, much more competitive and close the whole evening. Starter John ("The Walrus") Lannan, started things off well enough for the home team, but only lasted 5 2/3 innings, throwing 63 strikes on 100 pitches (do the math), and allowed 5 runs on 8 hits, including a homerun, walking 1 and striking out 3. He also went 1 for 2 with an R.B.I. single at the plate, his first major league hit and R.B.I. Congratulations, John!

The bullpen of Luis Ayala, Saul Rivera, Jon Rauch and Chad Cordero couldn't contain the Mets hitting as well as it needed to. Ayala was perfect in his 1/3 inning, Saul Rivera allowed 1 run on 2 hits and also walked 2, and Jon Rauch only allowed 1 hit. Chad Cordero also allowed 1 run on 3 hits.

Ryan Report: Tough night for the "R-Squad". Church went 0 for 1 in a pinch-hitting role, having the night off to make room for the Nats latest outfielder, Wily Mo Peña. Zimmerman went 2 for 4 with a walk and an R.B.I. double, and Austin Ryan Kearns went 2 for 4 with a double and a walk. Ryan Langerhans was designated for assignment ("D.F.A.'d") to make room for pitcher Jésus Colomé, who is coming off of the disabled list. I can only guess that Langerhans has to clear waivers before reporting to AAA Columbus. This is going to take some of the fun out of the Ryan report, I'll tell you that. We need pitcher Ryan Wagner to come back up to balance out the Ryan-karma.

The other hits for the Nats came from Ronnie Belliard (1 for 5), Jésus Flores (1 for 4 with an R.B.I.), Nook Logan (1 for 2 with a double, an R.B.I. and a walk), and the Nationals debut of Wily Mo Peña, just picked up from the Red Sox, who went 1 for 4 with a double and a walk.

I got to the ballpark around 5:45, and got my bobblehead ticket right away and headed over towards the Diamond Club to retrieve it. No sense wasting time, and I saw the crowded parking lot and did some quick calculation: If there are only 20,000 bobbleheads and over 30,000 fans, then some people are going home empty-handed. I was determined not to be one of them.

So I said hello to all of my ballpark friends, and with beef brisket sandwich in hand, I went to my seat. I had some nice fans to chat with this time, too. Got up at one point to get a beer from Howard (it's hard to get a beer from him when my row is full) and Howard was in something of a poetic mood - "Look at the shadows that the fans in the mezzanine are casting on the wall above these seats. Look at this stadium with the eyes of a child, like it's your first time. You'll always want to remember this." I had to admit, he's right, I feel the same way, only I didn't put it quite the same way. There are fewer than 20 games remaining at R.F.K. and I'll never see another baseball game there again. For the rest of my life, I want to be able to close my eyes and remember the wonderful days and nights at R.F.K. watching Nationals baseball over these past 3 years. I envy the people who tell me stories about Griffith Stadium, attending Senators and Redskins games there. Griffith Stadium is long gone, replaced by Howard University hospital. R.F.K.'s future is undetermined. D.C. United still plays there, though even they are trying to get a new soccer stadium built. There will be concerts, probably, but what else? The city owns it. It is old, but functional. I imagine at some point, it will be torn down to make room for...something.

"Coach" Ron Simms, one of my favorite ushers (he's the one on top of the Nats dugout during "Sweet Caroline") told me that, during batting practice, Wily Mo Peña hit a ball up into section #534 (gold seats, left field, upper deck) 3 rows in. Now, THAT is power! That is Frank Howard territory. I'm hoping to see that in a game, too.

I left my seat at the top of the 6th inning to walk around a bit and enjoy the weather. I walked up to the terrace food court to visit with friends, and while I was there, the Mets Damien Easley turned his left ankle, and I was informed that a foul ball had landed right in my row, near my (now) empty seat. Murphy's Law at work again - I've always said that if I'm not in my seat then foul balls are raining down into my section.

Another Nats loss, and after 3 1/2 hours, too. Not as much fun as a win, but still had a good time. I always do. Anytime spent with friends at the ballpark is time well-spent indeed.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Nats fall to Mets 6-2 under Glavine avalanche OR Chico answers question, "What's high in the middle and round at both ends?" ("O-HI-o")

The Nationals suffered a 6-2 New York mugging on Friday night at the sure and steady hands of 301-game-winner Tom Glavine, a game which saw "Iron Man" Matt Chico walk far too many batters for Manager Manny Acta's comfort.

Matt Chico has been one of the wonderful surprises of this season, not missing a single start in the rotation, and having some games which showcased pitching brilliance, such as a start he had in Pittsburgh followed by his July 4th start against the Cubs at home where he threw 6 shutout innings.

Everyone from Manager Manny Acta to pitching coach Randy St. Claire, to Chico himself has acknowledged that, on probably any other major league club, Chico would probably still be playing at the AA level, so he has certainly performed above and beyond all reasonable expectations this season and his future here is still secure, but right now he seems to have lost his command and just needs a sort-of "time-out" to go to Columbus, Ohio and throw strikes for the Clippers for a couple of weeks. One must also remember that Chico has benefited from playing his home games in what is the most extreme pitcher's park in the major leagues.

This move puts Mike Bacsik back into the starting rotation for the time being, and also makes General Manager Jim Bowden's job easier, since it buys him some time to figure out who else to send down to make room for their newest outfielder, Wily Mo Peña, late of the Cincinnati Reds via the Boston Red Sox.

Matt Chico has one of his worst outings of the season, lasting only 4.1 innings. In that time, he threw 48 strikes on an alarmingly-high 90 pitches (54%), allowing 4 runs on 5 hits, walking 5 and striking out only 2. 2 of those 5 hits were homeruns, by Damien Easley and Moises Alou respectively. I like Matt Chico, he has been one of the friendliest, and most modest, players who has signed my baseball this season, a very nice guy, and I think that it is too easy for us fans to fall into the trap of expecting more from him at this stage than he is reasonable ready to give. I think that he will come back from Columbus right after the September 1st roster expansions, and be just fine. I also think that his 2008 is likely to be a watershed year for him.

In bullpen relief, Mike Bacsik, Chris Schroeder, Ray King and Luis Ayala fared reasonably well, with Schroeder and King both allowing 1 run each. Bacsik and Schroder each walked 1 and King walked 2. To be fair, by the time they got into the game, most of the damage had already been done.

Ryan Report: Church went 1 for 4, Zimmerman was en fuego (that's Spanish for, "he excelled at the plate") going 3 for 4 with a double, Langerhans was 0 for 1, and Austin Ryan Kearns went 2 for 3 with a walk and an R.B.I.

Hot Nats bats on a pleasant evening also came from Felipe Lopez (1 for 5, maybe more lukewarm than hot), Dmitri Young (2 for 4 with a double and an R.B.I.), and Brian Schneider (1 for 4).

As I had to close my store last night at 7:00, I was late for the game, but I made great time down Rock Creek Parkway and 295. It seemed to me that everyone had already fled town, so I hit no traffic, and I got to the parking lot shortly after 7:30. As I approached the stadium, I heard a roar, and I thought that the Nats had done something great (no fireworks, so no homerun, but still...) When I got inside (after saying "hello" to Rico first, of course) I noticed that the score was 2-0 Mets (?!?!?) Suddenly, the cold, hard truth set in: those were METS fans shouting! Our dumpy, comfortable old R.F.K. had suddenly turned into Shea Stadium South.

I HATE when that happens.

The Mets aren't quite the Yankees in terms of fan base, but they seem to be getting a larger one all the time. They still play in the country's largest media market and have terrific cable, satellite, radio and T.V. broadcast penetration. Washington, D.C. is only a few hours away by train, and there are lots of transplanted New York/New Jersey residents in the area. Some came to college here and stayed, or came here to work for the government, or any number of other reasons and they, of course, brought their fan loyalties with them. It's part of their personal identity.

The Nationals haven't been around long enough to have developed a multi-generational fanbase yet, but it will happen. And once they start winning and encouraging more and more fans to come out to the new ballpark, they will sell more season tickets to Nationals fans, who will hopefully use them and not give them over to their friends who are Phillies fans, Braves fans, Cubs fans...or Mets fans.

I do not want Nationals Park (or whatever it is to be named - my money is on PNC Park at the moment) to ever sound like R.F.K. has these past 3 seasons when Mets fans, Phillies fans, even Cubs fans to a certain extent, outnumber the Nats fans and sound louder. Even on the T.V. replays, whenever the Mets did something, the crowd noise definitely sounded greatly in favor of New York. That should never happen. It's just embarrassing.

We fans need to do better. Does the club have to have a bobblehead promotion every homestand weekend to bring out the fans? Is it because they're not winning that the fan turnout isn't what it should be?

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. If your enjoyment of a baseball game is entirely predicated upon the win or the loss, then you're missing the forest for the trees. A win is a bonus. The fact that baseball is here should be enough to fill the stands on weekends with grateful, happy fans.

Maybe in 2008.

Nats fall to Phillies, 4-2, lose series OR Hamels hammers Hanrahan & Co.

In the "better late than never" department, I give you my post about the Thursday night Phillies/Nationals game.

The Nats rallied briefly in the 8th inning from a 4-0 deficit to get to 4-2, but they simply could not contain the Phillies pitching and get any hits.

Starter Joel "The Hammer" Hanrahan pitched well enough, even though he only went 5 innings. He gave up 2 runs on 4 hits, walked 4 but struck out 8. He threw 51 strikes on 101 pitches. Hanrahan was 0 for 1 at the plate, a disappointment, considering that in each of his previous 3 starts, he'd gotten an extra base hit. Still, he's a pitcher, we should be grateful that he can do more than just bunt, and I am grateful.

The bullpen of Chris Schroeder, Mike Bacsik, Saul Rivera and Jon Rauch did pretty well, though both Schroder and Rivera gave up 1 run on 2 hits.

Ryan Report: All afternoon, I feared that Church might have worn out his arm signing autographs at the ESPN Zone (I'm blogging about that separately, stay tuned), but he did manage a single, going 1 for 4. Zimmerman went 0 for 4, Langerhans didn't bat, but Austin Ryan Kearns was 2 for 2 with a double and was walked twice, and Joel Ryan Hanrahan went 0 for 1.

The Nats bats came alive with Ronnie Belliard (2 for 4 with a double, and an R.B.I.), Dmitri Young (1 for 4 with an R.B.I.), and Nook Logan (1 for 4).

A tough loss to a strong division opponent, but one to take away some good things from.

It was an ugly night, 88 degrees, cloudy and humid as all get-out. I got to the park early (see my next post about this day) and was there right when the gates opened. I saw Rico and went right down to try my luck at autograph hunting. Luis Ayala kindly signed my ball, and I got a smile out of him when I referred to him as "the best guy in our bullpen" (hey, what's a little flattery between fan and player?). I also managed to get another player's autograph (again, see that post). I had my Capital Q barbecue beef brisket sandwich and a beer from Howard and I was all set. Saw several familiar faces around the ballpark and I enjoyed myself, despite the loss.

Those Phillies fans have a bizarre ritual after a win - they roam around singing the Philadelphia Eagles fight song (?!?!?). How unbelievably odd. Perhaps they forgot where they were, or were too inebriated to see that R.F.K. was in a baseball configuration, not a football one. Who knows? All I DO know is, if after a Nats victory, we roamed around singing "Hail to the Redskins", they'd call out all of St. Elizabeth's to lock us up.

Ah, well. Don't have to see them again for a little while. Now we have to concentrate on trying to take some from the Mets.

Friday, August 17, 2007

**BREAKING NEWS!** Wily Mo Peña traded to Nationals!

Okay, it's apparently a few hours old, but a friend of mine tipped me off about this, but at this moment, this is the only thing I've seen online:

Wily Mo Pena Traded To Nationals

UPDATE: The Red Sox traded Pena for cash considerations and a player to be named later, according to Amalie Benjamin of the Boston Globe.

According to Rob Bradford of the Boston Herald, Wily Mo Pena has been traded to the Nationals. Jim Bowden finally got his man again.

Assuming he can stay healthy, it'll be interesting to see what Pena can do with 550 ABs. For what it's worth, PECOTA projected a line of .276/.336/.504 heading into this season. Pena still has a one in five chance of becoming a star, according to Baseball Prospectus.

Official Nats press release here.

08/17/2007 1:45 PM ET
The Washington Nationals today acquired 25 year-old outfielder Wily Mo Pena and cash considerations from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for a player to be named later. Nationals Vice President and General Manager Jim Bowden made the announcement.

The 6-foot-3, 245 lbs. Pena is a career .256 (323-for-1262) hitter with 57 doubles, 67 home runs and 193 RBI in 459 games with Boston (2006-07) and Cincinnati (2002-05). Pena is currently batting .218 with five home runs and 17 RBI in limited action (73 games) this season with the Red Sox. Last year, however, in Pena's American League debut with Boston, he hit .301 (83-for-276) with 15 doubles, 11 home runs and 42 RBI in only 84 games. Pena was acquired by the Red Sox on March 20, 2006 from Cincinnati in exchange for right-handed pitcher Bronson Arroyo and cash considerations.

Pena returns to the National League, where he blasted 51 home runs in only 302 games with the Reds from 2002-05, an average of one long ball every 16.2 at-bats.

His best season came with Cincinnati in 2004 when hit .259 with 26 home runs and 66 RBI despite playing in only 110 games, as he shared the Reds' outfield with Ken Griffey Jr., Adam Dunn and Austin Kearns, among others. With increased playing time and at-bats in '04, Pena averaged a home run every 12.9 at-bats overall, including one every 9.6 at-bats when facing left-handed pitching.

Pena brought his prodigious power to the big leagues at an early age, as he made his major league debut with the Reds in 2002 at the age of 20. Perhaps best known for his tape-measure home runs, Pena has hit at least two home runs in excess of 490 feet, including the longest recorded blast at old Busch Stadium (492 feet) on June 29, 2005.

Born in Lagunda Salada, Dominican Republic, Pena is reunited with Nationals manager Manny Acta, for whom he played during World Baseball Classic. Pena went 4-for-10 (.400) with one RBI and one run scored in three games during the inaugural tournament.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Nats even series with Phillies 1-1, winning 4-2 OR Redding railroads Phils

Tim Redding is a wonder. We're lucky to have him. On Thursday night, he practically tried to win the entire game singlehandedly, pitching a wonderful game and personally driving in 2 runs.

Redding pitched 6 strong innings, allowing 2 runs on 3 hits, walking 3 and striking out 7. He threw 61 strikes on 96 pitches (64%) and drove in the first 2 Nats runs.

The bullpen of Saul Rivera, Ray King, Luis Ayala and Chad Cordero was their usual efficient selves, allowing a total of 2 hits in 3 innings. Ray King, in particular, got 2 important outs.

Ryan Report: Church went 1 for 3 with a walk and an upper-deck homer (sec. #467) which put the Nats up 4-1, Zimmerman went 2 for 4 with a double, Langerhans did not hit, and Austin Ryan Kearns went 0 for 4. That Church homerun was absolutely crushed, it was beautiful to see.

The good hits from the Nats bats came from Tim Redding, who went 1 for 3 with that 2 R.B.I. double, Felipe Lopez who went 1 for 4, Dmitri Young went 2 for 3, Brian Schneider went 2 for 3, and Nook Logan went 1 for 3.

Being my day off, I got to the ballpark early and enjoyed being able to spend some time saying "hello" to my various friends there. Said "hi" to Rico and then Ellie upstairs. Got my Capital Q barbecue beef brisket and my beer from Howard. I was ready to go. 88 degrees and not terribly humid. Nice to see a Nats win on a Wendesday. I sure enjoyed it.

**BREAKING NEWS! Nats sign McGeary!**

This is HUGE! Just moments ago, Washington Post writer Barry Svrluga broke the news on his Nationals blog here:

It's official. He's OURS! Stanford's loss is Washington's gain. General Manager Jim Bowden and his team pulled off what many teams thought was impossible, signing a highly-rated player who had a full-ride to Stanford University, who had fallen in the draft because of his demands for 1st-round money.

I'm too tired to say much more about this right now, but I'm thrilled beyond measure to learn of this - I hope I can get to sleep now!

What a great week to be a Washington Nationals fan - first Josh Smoker, now Jack McGeary, and Ross Detweiler pitching in Potomac. Lefties galore!

Greater baseball minds than mine will write huge, analytical pieces about this with greater detail, but I just had to share my jubilation. This team had got to be the envy of all of baseball right now, with a scouting department and development people to get the farm system using everything but Miracle-Grow to fill the player pipeline.

Three cheers for Jim Bowden, his staff, the Lerners and Stan Kasten!

**EDIT** Here's the official press release:

Nationals agree to terms with McGeary
08/16/2007 12:39 AM ET
The Washington Nationals today agreed to terms with left-handed pitcher Jack McGeary, the club's sixth-round pick from the 2007 First-Year Player Draft. Nationals Vice President/General Manager Jim Bowden and Scouting Director Dana Brown made the announcement.

"We are very pleased to be able to draft and sign three left-handed starting pitchers - Jack McGeary, Ross Detwiler and Josh Smoker - all blessed with first-round talent," Bowden said.

McGeary was named the 2007 Gatorade Player of the Year for the state of Massachusetts after going 6-1 with a 0.88 ERA in seven starts as a senior for Roxbury Latin High School in West Roxbury, MA. He struck out 80 in his 40.0 innings of work, leading his club to a share of the Independent School League championship. The lefthander also earned ABCA/Rawlings Third-Team High School All-American honors. He had entered the 2007 season as a Baseball America Preseason High School First-Team All-American.

McGeary, 18, was rated as the 18th-best pitching prospect, 27th-best overall, among draft-eligible players according to Baseball America. He was also rated by the same publication as having the second-best command among draft-eligible high school pitchers.

The Nationals have now signed each of their first 20 selections from the 2007 draft.

The Nationals will host a press conference Thursday at 4:00 p.m. at RFK Stadium to introduce Jack McGeary.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Meet Ryan Church at ESPN Zone, Thursday, August 16th

The press release is below, but this is an event that I absolutely cannot miss. Ryan Church is one of my very favorite players, and the chance to say "hello" and maybe get a photo together is irresistible. So come on down to ESPN Zone and meet Ryan Church AND you might even get the chance to meet ME! When have you ever had a better offer than that, I ask you? :-)



WHAT: Nationals outfielder Ryan Church will be at ESPN Zone Washington D.C. on Thursday, August 16 to share his insight on the Nationals’ plans for the remainder of the season and the hype for next season. This lunchtime question-and-answer session offers fans the opportunity to get personal, candid answers to all their baseball questions, while getting better acquainted with Church. After the Q&A portion of the event, Church will sign autographs for ESPN Zone guests.

WHEN: Thursday, August 16, 2007 12 pm EDT


555 12th St., NW

Washington, D.C. 20004

Nats fall to Phillies 3-2 OR Hill brilliant, Phillies patient:.

A day of mixed emotions in the Nat-O-sphere (or is it"Natmosphere"? I can never get that straight...). The Nats beat the rookie signing deadline by signing the 31st pick in the draft, Josh Smoker, who will report to the Gulf Coast League on Saturday. Then they blew a 2-0 lead in the 8th inning to lose to the Phillies 3-2. So, not a perfect day, but even in the loss, they got an outstanding start from Shawn Hill, who hadn't pitched for the team in 3 months and looked for all the world as though he hadn't missed a beat.

I am particularly thrilled about the Smoker signing. It is a marketing department's dream, a leftie who can throw 94 m.p.h.. I pledge to you, my half-dozen readers or so, that I will make it my mission in life to exhaust every single word-play variation on "Smoker" and pitching that I possibly can once he comes up to the big club (Next year? We shall see.)

Starter Shawn Hill was on an 80 count pitch limit, but it got him through 6 quality innings in which he threw 79 pitches for 52 strikes (68%), allowing 1 hit, no runs, and struck out 7.
If Centerfielder Nook Logan had gotten a better jump on a fly ball in the 5th inning and had called Leftfielder Ryan Church off, he might have made the catch and Hill would have had 6 no-hit innings. This has to be considered one of the best starts a Nationals pitcher has had all year. At the moment, my somewhat-dodgey memory can only think of a couple of Matt Chico starts, such as his July 4th shutout of the Cubs, to compare Hill's to, but there is no question that right now, Shawn Hill is the Nationals best starter. Watch out, Mets, your Sunday prospects just got a whole lot worse.

The bullpen of Luis Ayala, Jon Rauch, Ray King and Saul Rivera were almost perfect. Jon Rauch gave up the go-ahead homerun for the Phillies, but two previous plays put Rauch in a bad position. I like Rauch a whole lot, and I'm glad that he is still a Washington National, but it seems to me that he can run hot and cold - you never know which Jon Rauch is going to show up on the mound on any given evening but, to be fair, he runs "hot"a lot more often than he runs "cold". You can't give the 2007 Phillies an inch, or they will go yard, and that's exactly what happened Tuesday night to put the Nats down. They are a team with October ambitions, and not to be trifled with.

Ryan Report: Church got the Nats first 2 hits of the evening, going 2 for 3, Zimmerman went 0 for 3 with a walk, Langerhans went 0 for 1, and Austin Ryan Kearns went 0 for 4. Not a sterling night for the "R-Squad".

The Nats other big hits came from Felipe Lopez (1 for 3 with a walk), Robert Fick (1 for 1, climbing over the Mendoza line now at .206), Nook Logan (1 for 4) and Tony Batista, who went 1 for 1 with a 2 R.B.I. double to break the 0-0 stalemate and put the Nats up 2-0.

Tuesday was a gorgeous night for baseball in August: 82 degrees, clear and low humidity, with a 6 m.p.h. breeze that made the evening delightful. I got to the ballpark on time (thanks, boss!) and checked in with Willie (outside Gate "A"), whom I've gotten to know a bit from after the home games - I'll chat with him while waiting for the parking lot to empty a little bit and help him to direct people to the Metro - then saw Rico and then up to the press cafeteria to see Ellie. Ellie and her husband Roy have recently experienced a terrible family tragedy, which I won't go into here out of respect for their privacy (I'll only say that it was terrible enough to make the papers where it happened) and I had missed her during the last homestand, but I'd learned what happened from Roy (the kind gent who checks folks into the Diamond Club) and I just had to talk to her and give her a big hug. One thing that she told me was how the Nationals, including some players and members of the principal ownership, had shown their support to her family, and I am proud to say that if anyone has any doubts as to what a class organization the Nationals are, then they should be dispelled at once, because this organization bent over backwards to support a family that was experiencing it's darkest hour. "We are a family", they told her, and I never doubted their resolve, but it is incredibly heartwarming to actually hear about it firsthand. The Nationals do the right thing and they do it the right way. We can all be proud of them.

I ate my beef brisket sandwich and had my beer from Howard and enjoyed the normalcy of the evening with a little extra gratitude for all the wonderful folks who bring us the great game of baseball and the opportunity to get to know our neighbors a little bit better and make new friends in the process. Thanks to the Nationals being here, I've gotten to meet so many terrific people who I never would have met otherwise, and that is a blessing that is easily overlooked in our day to day lives.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Nats rally TWICE to edge D-Backs 7-6 OR Church on Sunday and Jésus to the rescue!

The Washington Nationals avoided a sweep at the hands of the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday with two thrilling come-from-behind rallies, edging the National League West leaders 7-6 and avoiding a sweep to close out their roadtrip.

The heroes of the afternoon's action were Ryan Church, Jésus Flores, Robert Fick, Felipe Lopez and the bullpen of Chris Schroeder, Saul Rivera, Jon Rauch and Chad Cordero.

First they were down 5-1 and rallied to tie things up 5-5, then the D-Backs grabbed the lead again 6-5 and the Nats rallied for the second time to win 7-6.

Flores hit a homerun in the 9th to tie the score at 6-6, Robert Fick hit a triple (which might have been scored a double and an error, but wasn't) and was himself driven in by Felipe Lopez on a sacrifice to put them up 7-6.

Starter Mike Bacsik didn't last as long as he would have liked, going only 4 innings in which he gave up 5 runs (including 2 homers) on 8 hits and a walk. Fortunately, Chris Schroeder came in and threw 2 shutout innings (striking out 2), Saul Rivera allowed 1 hit in his single inning, Jon Rauch gave up 1 run on 2 hits and got the win, and Chad Cordero notched his 26th save of the season.

Ryan Report: Exciting! Ryan Church went 2 for 4 with a homer and 2 R.B.I.'s, Zimmerman went 1 for 5 with a triple and an R.B.I., Langerhans was 0 for 1 and Austin Ryan Kearns went 1 for 4 with an R.B.I.

Felipe Lopez was 0 for 2 but walked twice, and he did drive in the winning run on that sacrifice. Jésus Flores went 3 for 4 with that far leftfield homer and 2 R.B.I.'s.

One of the lighter moments came late in the game when Tony Batista was hit by a pitch by Micah Owings. Batista appeared to begin to charge the mound, but was only taking his normal, circuitous route to first base. It momentarily alarmed the D-Backs catcher, who then broke an embarrassed smile, and Don Sutton on MASN explained that this was what Batista does, and I recalled seeing him do this on YouTube, where he scares the hell out of a pitcher in Japan who hit him with a pitch.

It's nice to end a roadtrip with a win, especially having lost two in a row, and so many to the D-Backs all season. Now they have a day off to come home and face familiar foes at home in the form of the Phillies and the Mets, both teams with October ambitions. Once again, the Nationals find themselves a game behind the Marlins, and in the cellar of the National League East.

It was a bittersweet moment last week when the Nationals briefly took 4th place all to themselves. Ryan Zimmerman observed that this was the first time in his major league career that he was on a team that wasn't in last place in the division. It made him so happy, I felt badly for him that they couldn't hold that for him, but there are still many games left to play, and perhaps the Nats can fulfill MY pre-season wish of just finishing ahead of the Marlins.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Webb traps Nats, unable to escape, 1-0 loss OR Saturday night shutout

The good news was, it was a mercifully short game, lasting only 2 hours 11 minutes. Also, Nats starter John Lannan went 7 strong innings.

The bad news was, the Nats lost their 2nd straight game to the Arizona Diamondbacks, this time by the score of 1-0, under the dominating pitching of reigning National League Cy Young Award winner, Brandon Webb, who extended his consecutive shutout innings pitched to 33.

John Lannan (I am SO tempted to call him "The Walrus") really did the best that could be expected of him, surrendering only 1 run in 7 innings, allowed 4 hits and walked 2. For a guy who hasn't even been in the major leagues a month, he's doing exceptionally well.

Not much to say about the Nats performance tonight. Felipe Lopez was 1 for 4, Nook Logan was 2 for 3. Robert Fick was 1 for 3.

Ryan Report: Church went 1 for 4 with a double. That's all, folks.

Thank goodness the Nats don't have to face Brandon Webb again until next season.

Nats rally, tie D-Backs, then collapse 11-4, OR cooling off in the desert night

The Washington Nationals, who were on a white-hot 6 game winning streak at home to begin the month, have begun to cool off on this road trip. After splitting their series with the Giants in San Francisco 2-2, they arrived in the Arizona desert to take on the Diamondbacks, and former teammate Livan Hernandez, on Friday evening.

They fell behind early, 4-1, with starter Matt Chico having one of his worst outings of the season as he lost command of his pitches. But they rallied mightily in the 6th, victimizing their fold friend Livan on 3 solo home runs to tie the game. Unfortunately, the bullpen couldn't hold on, and the Diamondbacks tacked on 5 runs in the 7th and 2 runs in the 8th to ruin the Nationals chances.

An ugly game, to be certain for Nats fans. With the exception of that wonderfully exciting 6th inning, the Nats bats cooled off and the bullpen was uncharacteristically generous, giving up 4 walks which, with Chico's 6 walks was their single-game season high of 10.

Ryan Report: Church went 0 for 3 with a walk, Zimmerman went 1 for 4 with a homerun, Langerhans did not play, and Austin Ryan Kearns went 2 for 4 with a homerun.

Not a terribly engaging game. Either that, or the week's exhaustion is getting to me and I can't get truly interested in a game like this one.

The Diamondbacks aren't pushovers, they lead their division, unlike the cellar-dweller Giants who the Nats could only manage to grab 2 of 4 games from. The Diamondbacks are a team on the come, and a sure force to be reckoned with in October of this year.

I was hoping that the Nats would win this one, off of Livan Hernandez, who they know so well, because I don't like their chances against Brandon "Cy Young" Webb on Saturday night.

I'd like to be proved wrong.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Nats rally to take Giants 3-1, split series OR Escaping by the bay

The Washington Nationals escaped from the madness that became Barry Bonds week in San Francisco by edging the Giants 3-1 Thursday afternoon. They split their series with the Giants 2-2, and came oh, so close, to taking it 3-1.

Starter Joel Hanrahan ("The Hammer", I call him), was the ringleader of this band of baseball-playing escape artists. He got himself into a couple of spots of trouble and managed to extricate himself from them. Hanrahan threw 54 strikes on 93 pitches (58%) allowing 1 run on 7 hits, walking 4 and striking out 2. At the plate he proved equally adept, going 1 for 2 with a double. If Joel Hanrahan has to be sent down to the minors when Shawn Hill returns off of the disabled list, it isn't going to be for lack of production and effort. He has proven himself to have what it takes to be successful in the majors, and I hope that the team finds a way to keep him aboard to finish the season in D.C. If not, he'll be guaranteed a shot at the starting rotation in spring training. If he is traded, it will be very, very painful.

The bullpen had a nice, busy day, with 5 relievers getting work in. Ray King, Saul Rivera, Luis Ayala, Jon Rauch and Chad Cordero allowed a total of 3 hits and no runs. As proven over and over again this season, especially since May 11th, the bullpen is magnificent, a daily credit to pitching coach Randy St. Clair and his staff.

Ryan Report: Church was 0 for 1 in a pinch-hitting role, Zimmerman was 1 for 4 with a walk, Langerhans was 0 for 2, Austin Ryan Kearns was 2 for 3 with a walk, and the newest member of the "R-Squad", Joel Ryan Hanrahan (you can look it up!) was 1 for 2 with a double.

The big hits came from Felipe Lopez (2 for 5 with 2 R.B.I.'s, and an 8th inning homer), Nook Logan (2 for 5), and Tony Batista (2 for 4).

I didn't get to see this game live, I was at work, but I did listen to it on the radio and follow it online. I watched my recording of it later, as usual. Nice to see them leave San Francisco on a high note, even if they didn't win the series. They showed the whole country that they are a team on the come, a club to be reckoned with. As a Nats fan, that's all that I could reasonable ask for.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Nats shutout by Giants 5-0 OR Redding railroaded

Of all the pitching matchups of the Nats-Giants series I was most looking forward to, it was this one; Tim Redding vs. Matt Cain. Redding entered Wednesday's action with an E.R.A. of something like 2.46, and Cain was 3-12 on the season, a far cry from his performance in 2006 where he was quite dominant, winning 13 games.

That whole scenario came undone as the Nats couldn't get any offense going, getting only 4 hits, making Cain look like a Cy Young contender. Redding did okay, going 7 innings and giving the bullpen a rest, but he did make a couple of costly mistakes, not the least of which was a 1st inning 2-run homer to Barry Bonds. Redding became the latest in a long line (447) of Bond's pitching victims. He even gave up a homer to Cain, his very first one in the majors. Not a happy evening for Nats fans.

Ryan Report: Church managed one of the 4 Nats hits on the night. As Porky Pig would say, "a th-th-th-th, that's all, folks!"

Felipe Lopez got 2 hits, Nook Logan got one. *Sigh*.

A forgettable game on an anti-climactic night by the bay. I just hope that the Nats can put it behind them and regroup for the Thursday afternoon game.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Nats rally to beat Giants 8-6 OR Team win trumps celebration of 1 individual

In the immortal words of the late President Gerald Ford, "My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over." Alleged steroids-abuser Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants has finally hit career homerun #756 off of Washington Nationals starter Mike Bacsik to pass Hall-of-Famer Henry "Hank" Aaron for the lead on the all-time major league list.

Poor Mike Bacsik. It fell to him to give up one of baseball's most famous homeruns. As a Nationals fan, I'm kind of glad that it fell to him to give it up, rather than one of the young guys, like Matt Chico or John Lannan, because this sort of thing could shake their confidence. Bacsik is also quite likeable and quotable, and MASN's Bob Carpenter hit it right on the head when he mentioned that soon the entire world would know just how quotable Mike Bacsik truly is. Bacsik isn't a bad pitcher, he's simply a decent journeyman, who has his good days and his bad days, and would probably have a better record this season with a touch more run support. As nice a guy as I think that he is, I have to believe that he isn't a part of the National's future beyond this season, there are simply too many hot young pitching prospects coming up in the Nationals minor league ranks. He'll probably be traded or go back down to AAA Columbus and be fondly remembered by the veterans of this club as a great teammate and classy guy. The way he handled his post-game news conference was masterful, he was honest, forthright, and extraordinarily well-spoken for a professional athlete. He took to it as though he was born to it. I congratulate him, and I'm proud that he wears the Nationals uniform.

I'll tell you what's scary - go to and check out the entries for Barry Bonds and Mike Bacsik. They were updated withing minutes of the famous homerun, I checked. Wow. I wonder if there were users logged-in and just sitting there waiting for this to happen?

The best part for me was, of course, the Nationals won, 8-6, so at least we have that going for us, which is nice. That is certainly what mattered to me the most.

(Oh, and to the Pittsburgh Pirates: You're welcome.)

Let the record show that the Nationals, at least for 1 day, are TIED FOR 4TH PLACE in the National League East, with the Florida Marlins. We're no longer undefeated in August, but we're back on the streak! Time to grab 4th place for ourselves and keep winning!

I'll add to this post later in the morning. Right now, I just want to go to bed. These west-coast games are murder on my sleep cycle.

*EDIT Okay, where was I? Oh, yes. My first question of the day is, how many people returned their tickets to the San Francisco Giants for the Wednesday night game, and for the Pittsburgh series? (Bonds won't play Thursday, so that was an odd day out anyway).

Now, onto the actual game results.

Starter Mike Bacsik lasted 5 innings, allowing 5 runs on 7 hits, walking 1 and striking out 5. Oh, and he also allowed 2 homeruns. After allowing Barry Bond's #756, Bacsik had to leave the game, as the mid-game ceremony would interfere with his rhythm and his arm. He didn't get the win, but at least Bacsik didn't get the loss.

The bullpen did their damndest to hold the Giants down and get the win, and they performed beautifully, with Chris Schroeder going 2 innings, and throwing 21 strikes on 32 pitches (66%), allowing 1 run on 2 hits, and striking out 2. Schroeder got the win, too, his very first major league win. Jon Rauch allowed 1 hit in the 8th, and Chad Cordero allowed no hits, getting his 24th save of the season.

Ryan Report: Church 0 for 3 with a walk, Zimmerman 1 for 4 with a sacrifice R.B.I. and a triple, Langerhans 0 for 1, and Austin Ryan Kearns the big hero of the night for Nats fans, going 2 for 4 with a walk and 2 R.B.I.'s and a homerun.

The other big hits for the Nats came from Felipe Lopez, who was 3 for 4 with a walk, a double, a homerun and 2 R.B.I.'s, Ronnie Belliard (1 for 3), Brian Schneider (1 for 4) with a homerun and a walk, Nook Logan (1 for 4) with an R.B.I. and Tony Batista, (1 for 1) with an R.B.I.

I love how the attendance was reported at AT&T Park:
Attendance: 43,154 (103.8% full)
Game Time: 3:12, weather: 62 degrees, clear, wind: 18 mph, out to center.

I watched the entire game and all of the post-game coverage, including the Bonds interview. He said some nice things about our Nationals, he was gracious, even a little bit humble, I'll give him that.

An interesting game, a memorable spectacle. One that I know I'll always remember watching.

Song of the moment - Celebrating the longest homestand of the season

Survey of the Moment