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Monday, May 25, 2009

Pirates/Orioles week summary

A tough week for the Nationals, and a dismal homestand which ended on a nice note.

Nationals vs. Pirates

The Nats only took one of four games, avoiding a sweep but they missed some chances.

Monday, May 18th: Pirates 12, Nationals 7

The Nats 2007 first-round pick Ross Detweiler's debut was a good one, striking out six batters and having no walks. After the game, there was a question as to whether or not Detweiler would go back to the minors or have another start. Fortunately, the club decided to keep him around.

Nick Johnson had a 3 RBI night and was walked three times. Both he and Ryan Zimmerman had homers.

The Nats were down 3-0, then went up 5-3 in the 5th, only to allow five runs in the 6th. They had a chance to stay with the Pirates, being down 9-6 going into the 9th inning, but then they fell further behind, allowing three runs.

Garrett Mock got the blown save and was awarded the loss.

Tuesday, May 19th: Pirates 8 Nationals 5

Shairon Martis had a shaky outing, but the Nats stuck with the Pirates and tied things up 5-5 in the 9th on Adam Dunn's 12th home run of the season. Sadly, they lost in the 10th inning when reliever Joe Beimel walked three batters and allowed three runs. Beimel just hasn't been the same since he returned from the disabled list. I hope that he gets it together soon.

Wednesday, May 20th: Pirates 2, Nationals 1 (THE 100th GAME AT NATIONALS PARK)

I went to this game with high hopes. The weather was flat-out GORGEOUS for baseball, clear blue sky, 75 mild degrees and low humidity. Honest-to-goodness, this is the sort of night that you just pine for over the winter, dreaming of.

Hard to believe that they've already played 100 games here at Nationals Park. I guess 100 games isn't so many, but it seems like the park just opened yesterday to me.

John Lannan pitched another good game, allowing only one run, striking out five and only walking two.

The game was tied, 1-1, going into the 9th inning, and the Nats brought in Joel Hanrahan, who has struggled mightily all spring, and he threw an astounding 35 pitches in the 9th inning, 23 for strikes, but the one fateful pitch that he threw went wild and allowed the Pirates the go-ahead run from third.

At least the weather was nice.

Thursday, May 21st: Nationals 5, Pirates 4

Finally, the Nats notch a victory and avoid a second, consecutive sweep.

25 year-old rookie Craig Stammen had a good start, and the Nats may have found their fifth starter for the rest of the season, since Scott Olsen is on the D/L and Daniel Cabrera is banished to the bullpen.

The Nats briefly lost the lead in the 7th inning, but regained it in the 8th for good. Joel Hanrahan had a pleasingly uninteresting top of the 9th to nail down the victory.

Nationals vs. Orioles - "The Battle of the Beltways"

The Nationals have a pretty even record in Interleague play, and last year they split their two series with the Baltimore Orioles. The Nationals are trying to turn the Orioles series into a big, regional rivalry, but as former Orioles and Nationals Manager Frank Robinson remarked a couple of years ago, unless both clubs are winning, then there really can't be much of a rivalry. Still, Nats fans get appropriately irritated at Orioles fans who disrespect the National Anthem when performed in our park, but at least they come and spend a lot of money there.

Friday, May 22nd: Orioles 4, Nationals 2

Jordan Zimmermann pitched another beauty, striking out seven, walking one, and only allowing two runs. The Nats were tied 2-2 and took that situation all the way to 12 innings (in almost regulation time, though). Jason Bergman, Ron Villone and Joe Beimel all performed well out of the bullpen, but the Orioles managed to get to Kip Wells in the 12th, scoring two runs.

Ryan Zimmerman's 2-run homer was pretty much the highlight of the game for the Nats.

Saturday, May 23rd: Orioles 2, Nationals 1

Ross Detweiler got his second start and he performed well, striking out four and only allowing one run, though he did walk four batters. With the exception of Cristian Guzman's solo homer, there just wasn't much Nats firepower, though they did have seven hits.

The one, great Nationals highlight of the game will be Centerfielder Justin Maxwell's leaping snag of a long fly ball by Oriole Adam Jones to rob him of a certain home run. "J-Max" used all of his 6'5" body and long arms to time his leap to the centerfield wall and reach over the wall to snag the ball at the precise moment. A great moment for him, and one of the Nats defensive plays of the year.

I went to this game, and a personal highlight for me was simply getting to run into so many friends, including beer vendors Neal and Howard. Anyone who has followed this blog for more than one season knows who they are, but in short, they are two of my favorite ballpark people. I've run into Howard at Orioles Park and Raven Stadium, and I've encountered Neal at FedEx Field. They are just great guys who I always enjoy talking to. Along with Coach Ron Simms, Ellie and Roy, Susan, Mr. Charles, James, Ed, and so many others, they make my games a lot more fun.

You know, I still haven't attended a Nats win this season. I think that they've lost every game that I've gone to. Maybe I'm short-term-memory-impaired, but I just can't remember one.

Sunday, May 24: Nationals 8 Orioles 5

The Nats avoided the sweep with a big game by Adam Dunn, who had the first 6 R.B.I. game of his career, and despite a shaky start from Shairon Martis, who allowed seven hits, five runs, and walked two. He also allowed one home run and only struck out two.

The Bullpen of Ron Villone, Joe Beimel and Joel Hanrahan was essentially perfect, allowing no hits no walks and therefore no runs.

Adam Dunn had two home runs, the second being a Grand Slam thanks, in part, to some clever managing by Nats Manager Manny Acts, who with men on first and second, decided to have Cristian Guzman sacrifice to move the runners and then gambled that the Orioles would walk Ryan Zimmerman to get to Dunn. Dunn responded just as every Nats fan hoped that he would. Considering that both Guzman and Zimmerman were both hitting over .300 and Dunn was hitting in the .260's (I believe) this was a particularly gutsy move which paid off.

The Nats are 13-30 and are done at home for the month of May. Now they're off to New York to take on the Mets

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sunday sweep and weep: Phillies complete weekend series, take 4 of 4 over Nats 8-6.

Lackluster. Just lackluster.

Today the Nationals lost their 4th in a row to the Philadelphia Phillies, 8-6. The Nationals led the game from the second inning through the 7th, but a bizarre error in the 8th inning led to three Phillies runs and their victory.

Despite the Phillies starter, Chan Ho Park, exiting the game in the second inning (having thrown an absurdly high 63 pitches). He was charged with five runs and had four walks. I thought that this was good news for the Nats, knock out the opposing teams starter and work on their weakened bullpen. Sadly, it didn't work out that way.

The Nats starter, Jordan Zimmermann, had another shakey start, allowing five runs and 3 walks, but composed himself and struck out 6.

The Nats just cannot seem to hold a lead. Today's was another 8th inning collapse. I won't even go into Jésus Colomes bizarre throwing error which cost the Nats the lead. It's just too depressing to discuss.

In the bottom of the 4th inning, Bob Carpenter and Rob Dibble on MASN were discussing the President's Race, and "Teddy"'s continued woes in that department. Carpenter said something to the effect of, "It gets harder to watch every day".

He could have been speaking of the Nationals continued losing.

Well, so long to the Philadelphia Phillies (and their fans...) for a while, and hello to the team from the other end of Pennsylvania, the Pittsburgh Pirates, whose record isn't nearly as good as their friends from across the state. Ross Detweiler will take the mound for the Nationals. It should be a good game.

My "Sunday Sermon" on rivalries

There really ought to be more of a sense of rivalry between the Nats and the Phillies. After all, they are our closest National League rivals, and their record against the Nats over the past five seasons is seriously dominating. The Nats have been able to play spoiler to the Phillies in some recent years September games, but I suppose a real rivalry, such as the Phillies have with the New York Mets, won't happen until the Nationals are much more competative. It is certainly a much more natural rivalry than the Nationals have with the Baltimore Orioles. That "rivalry" is a tad contrived, as it is really more of a battle for the hearts and minds of regional baseball fans. It made more sense when the American League Washington Senators played Baltimore frequently each season. The Orioles have a longer and more storied history than the Nationals, they play in what is widely regarded as one of the premier ballparks in baseball, and they get frequent visits from the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, two of the oldest and most popular sports franchises in the world, which guarantees them some sellouts and lots of interest from the D.C. area. I would hope that the Nationals presence in Washington, D.C. allows fans of other popular and storied National League franchises, such as the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals, who happen to live in Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia or elsewhere within a two hour or so drive, the chance to see their teams in person.

So the Philadelphia Phillies, who are already 6-2 versus the Nats this season (as I type this, the Nats are leading the Phillies 6-5 in the bottom of the 7th) are the most natural choice for a rivalry. Once the Nationals start winning, and start selling more season tickets, that will help to keep Nationals Park from feeling like "Citizen's Bank South".

(Incidentally, Bob Carpenter on MASN just showed a graphic which demonstrated that in terms of average, runs per game, home runs, and extra base hits so far between these two clubs in 9 games this season, the Nationals stack up very well against the Phillies. Yet the lopsided disparity continues.)

It isn't any wonder that the Phillies fans overrun our ballpark. Team President Stan Kasten is savvy enough to know that a ticket in Philadelphia is hard to come by, especially since the Phillies are the defending World Series Champions, so he's encouraged Phillies fans (and fans of other teams) to come to Nationals Park and spend their money there and fill some seats. Kasten took some criticism for that but, really, it's a smart business move. Our NBA Washington Wizards (née Bullets) were marketed that way for years - "Come see Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers", or "See Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls", or "Watch Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics". The appeal of the other teams was greater than that of the home team.

Everybody loves a winner, especially in this, the most highly politicized town in the country, so until the Nationals lead the National League East, we can expect more of the same.

How will the Nationals achieve this? Primarily through pitching. Pitching, pitching, pitching. They have some good young arms in their system, and are bringing up more. They are bringing one of their best young prospects, Ross Detweiler, up to begin the Pirates series tomorrow evening. I hope that he earns a rotation spot.

I didn't intend this to be a roundabout way to bring up presumptive #1 college draftee Stephen Strasberg, but it's as good a time for me to weigh in on the Nationals expected decision to draft him as any.

I am 100% in favor of them drafting Strasberg. They need to draft him, offer him whatever Strasberg's agent, Scott Boras, asks for (supposedly 6 years, 50 million dollars) and get him signed. He could be up with the Nationals for a game or two in September, far too late to really help them but enough time to spark fan interest in off-season ticket sales.

Top pitchers put fans in the seats. I still regret not trying harder to see the Nationals/Astros game at R.F.K. a couple of years ago when Roger Clemens was here. Sure, they beat us, but Clemens would have been worth the agony of the defeat just to see him pitch.

Strasberg has had an amazing college career and Olympic stint. He won't need years in AA or AAA to prepare for the majors. If his signing could increase fan attendance at home every five days or so by even 10%, wouldn't that be worth the cost?

I know that better baseball minds than mine have cautioned against drafting Strasberg. It has been pointed out that no college pitcher drafted #1 has gone to the Hall of Fame. But things change. Exceptions are made. Chances are taken, gambles are done. I think that Strasberg is worth the risk, if for no other reason than the Lerner family and their partners have to demonstrate to the fans their willingness to spend money on quality players. They cannot risk getting the reputation of being "cheap" owners. They are building conservatively and cautiously (perhaps too cautiously for some) but they are in the business of building and when something is being built for permenance, it pays to be careful and cautious. It's cheaper and better to do things right the first time. I would much rather have a champion built well, which is competative for years and years than one which is bought and built through pricey free agents, which might collapse soon after (i.e. Florida Marlins model in the '90's).

Then we can really take it to those pesky Phillies and let the rivalry truly begin.

Nats rally hopes washed out in 6th as game called due to rain. Phillies 7, Nats 5

I was looking forward to returning to the ballpark tonight. You heard me correctly. Despite the losses, there's still magic for me in attending baseball games. It was Saturday night, I was meeting up with a friend, and it was "Jackie Robinson Day", with every player wearing Robinson's #42 and fans wearing #42 white and blue buttons.

The forecast had been for rain at various times of the day, and it had rained briefly after the 1:05 game and before 6:00. I was starting to think that team president Stan Kasten was working his meteorological mojo again, but his magic wore off around 9:20 in the top of the 6th inning as what seemed like a monsoon arrived and halted play for the night.

I found my buddy Myron over at The Bullpen across the street. There was live music there, but the rain was coming down, so the tent was completely packed, Despite that, there were plenty of people who looked as though they were having fun. Sadly, most of them looked like rowdy Phillies fans. I guess I can't blame them for being cocky - their team is the reigning World Series Champions, and they'd just beaten the Nats earlier in the day, and the previous night, but I cannot use the word "gracious" to describe them.

We entered the ballpark through the Centerfield Plaza and went to find people we knew. Our friend Neal, a beer vendor, wouldn't be there as he was working the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico racetrack in Maryland earlier. We found our friend Ellie, and spent some nice moments catching up with her (and drying off in the process) Ellie is a complete sweetheart and she always tells me the nicest things about the people she works with. She really loves her job, and whatever else anyone criticizes the Nationals organization for, they cannot convince me that the club isn't stocked with decent, kind, hard-working folks. For some time now, Ellie has labored without the benefit of knowing what was going on during the game unless she heard the crowd roar or something like that. Back at R.F.K. stadium, she had T.V's around her to keep track, but she hasn't had one at the new ballpark. That finally changed, and she has a nice flatscreen T.V. to keep up with what's going on. Very kind of the powers-that-be to provide that for her, she deserves it.

We ran into some other friends and chatted with them as well. I looked for our old buddy Howard, beer vendor extraoirdinaire, and eventually I saw him, but wasn't able to go and chat with him. He left when the rain hit.

The game itself was pretty good through five innings, with the Nationals trailing 7-5, they'd rallied to put a scare into the Phillies and their fans. In the top of the 6th inning, though, the Phillies looked as though they might break the game wide open, as they had the bases loaded and no outs when the rain storm arrived around 9:20. Myron and I hung around until about 10:15 when we decided to leave and I was going to drive him home. The game was called at 10:52, so we made the right decision to leave. One always worries that such decisions are premature and hasty. I'd have been mortified (though elated) if play had resumed and the Nationals continued to rally and win.

Starter Daniel Cabrera has had an awful spring. He's started eight games, and is 0-5. Manager Manny Acta believes that Cabrera is improving, but he's still had problems with his control (I think he still leads the National League in wild pitches so far this season, but perhaps not any longer).

I realize that I haven't been saying much (if anything) about the opposing players, and that is an oversight, but really, most of them I don't know enough about to comment on them intelligently, but I can say this: The Phillies Raul Ibañez is this season's Nats-killer. His teammate Ryan Howard is bad enough, with all of the homers that he hits against the Nats, but Ibañez is the Nats reigning nemesis.

Thanks to my friends and "summer family", even when the Nats lose, my Saturday nights can still be special.

"Tax-Day" postponement brings bad news to Nats: Phillies 8, Nats 5

I had tickets for this game, a 1:05 makeup game of the April 15th rain game, but as usual, I had to work. I gave my tickets to a friend, though.

I didn't miss much, except a late Ryan Zimmerman homer and an 8th inning three-run rally.

Starter Scott Olsen allowed six runs (five earned) and it turns out he was pitching injured, with shoulder and ankle problems. I have to respect Olsen's work ethic and dedication. He knew that he had to pitch as long as he could to spare the bullpen, which had been depleted the previous night, and there was still a night game to be played. Sadly for Olsen, he is now on the D/L.

Friday Night frights: Phillies 10, Nats 6 in late innings

This was a nice little battle as the Nats and Phillies traded the lead, and it looked as though the game would come down to the bottom of the 9th as the Nats, trailing by two, tied the game 6-6 on a Willie Harris slicer down into the right-field corner, forccing extra innings.

Unfortunately, this is where the weakness of the Nats bullpen became apparent. They managed to hold the Phillies scoreless in the 10th and 11th, but the wheels came off of the bus in the 12th as the Phillies scored 4 runs and the Nats couldn't score.

Starter John Lannan only allowed three runs, and one walk, and struck out two. He pitched well enough to win, though.

*Sigh* Welcome home.

Better late than never: The San Francisco summary

For my non-local friends and family, the summary of the third stage of the Nats road trip last week.

Game 1, May 11th: Giants 11, Nationals 7
Zimmerman crushed, extending his streak by going 4 for 5 with 4 RBI's, Cabrera came unraveled, fifteen hits, six walks and one costly Josh Willingham error.

Game 2, May 12th: Giants 9, Nationals 7
Zimmerman pushed his streak to 30 games, Nick Johnson drove in five runs, Nats rallied from being down 5-1 to lead 7-5 only to collapse in the 9th with Joe Beimel unable to get the save. Jordan Zimmermann didn't have a great game, allowing 5 runs and walking two, but he did strike out eight batters and pitched well enough for the team to win.

Game 3, May 13th: Nationals 6, Giants 3
As previously noted, a bittersweet end to a rough road trip as the Nats win to end on a high note but Ryan Zimmerman's hitting streak halted at 30 games. I give MAJOR props to the San Francisco Giants fans in attendance for giving Zimmerman a standing ovation and on top of their team losing. Stay classy, San Francisco, you fans embody the fine sportsmanship to which fans of all sports should. I don't like to dwell upon this, but I can think of a couple of major league cities where Zimmerman would NEVER have received such an honor, especially if the home team lost. The Giants Barry Zito did what so many other opposing pitchers had failed to do and that is contain Zimmerman. Of course, Zimmerman was also walked twice, but his hits never made it out of the infield.

Nats starter Shairon Martis, "The Big Wow from Curaçao" (catchy, isn't it?) extended his record to 5-0, Nick Johnson had four hits, Elijah Dukes had three RBI's.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Some quick Thursday Thoughts between the roadtrip and new homestand

I haven't had the time to encapsulate the Giants series from this week, but I hope to do that tomorrow.

The sad news was, of course, the end of Ryan Zimmerman's hitting streak, which stopped at 30 games. Zimmerman was walked twice in the last game, and never got the ball out of the infield. He grounded into a double play but eventually made it to first base on a fielder's choice, I believe, so he didn't get credit for a hit. I cannot be certain about this for several reasons:

1) I tried to watch the game (it was my day off) on MASN, and the signal was horrendous. The picture and sound kept going out. I went to the MASN website and complained, but they replied that Comcast wasn't reporting any problems in my area. I don't think that it was a Comcast problem because all of my other channels were fine.

2) So, I went to and selected the gameday audio. It was nice to listen to Charlie and Dave, but my browser kept crashing and eventually, it informed me that I'd logged in too many times in a short period of time so it was locking me out - D'oh!

3) I haven't had time to read the game reports (...blush...)

Oh, the good news? The Nats won, so they ended the roadtrip on a nice note.

The Bullpen - opening Friday, May 15th, outside Nationals Park

I just received an emailed press release from the folks who are opening and operating The Bullpen, just outside Nationals Park. It is opening Friday, May 15th at 5:00.

Located at the corner of N St. and Half St. SE. it will be open from 2 hours before game time until midnight. For those of you who use the Navy Yard Metro stop to go to the ballpark, you won't be able to miss it when you walk down Half Street towards the Centerfield Gate entrance.

According to the press release, "...(The Bullpen) will be the ONLY option outside of the ballpark for fans who want to come early and soak in the baseball atmosphere. The Bullpen offers interactive sports games for children sponsored by Under Armour and Headfirst Camps, great local food vendors including Rocklands ( & Surfside (, a beer garden sponsored by Bud Light, and live music."

I think that this is exciting news. Finally, there is someplace in the immediate vicinity of the ballpark to go either before or after the games. It sounds like a great next step in the rehabilitation of the ballpark district.

I hope to check it out for myself this weekend.

More information at:

Sunday, May 10, 2009

3-game weekend wrapup; Two out of three 'ain't bad as Nats win first road series against Diamondbacks

The Nationals played a really entertaining series against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Phoenix this weekend. The Nats took the first two games and had more than a sporting chance at winning the Sunday game, but the sweep was not to be.

Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman continued his hitting streak, now at 28 games. To put this in historical perspective, Zimmerman is now precisely at the halfway point to tying New York Yankee Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak, which he accomplished in 1941. It has long been considered one of the most unassailable records in sports. While I'm not getting my hopes up that Zimmerman will tie or top DiMaggio (since there are too many variables involved, from weather to team rules*), it is my hope that he gets the streak to at least 30, to get on most hitting streak lists of note, and I'd be happy if he got to 37 to get ahead of Washington Senator Gene DeMontreville (who had a 36-game streak in 1896-97. I'm sure that I'd settle for him tying or beating Washington Senator Heinie Manush, who had a 33-game streak in 1933.

(*I hope for Manager Manny Acta's sake, as well as Zimmerman's, that Zimmerman isn't late to a team meeting or function for the duration of this streak. Acta would have to choose between caving in and allowing Zimmerman to play and losing credibility with the team, or keeping his hard line and not start him for a game, and crushing the hopes of of the fans. The fallout from that is just too much to imagine.)

Okay - onto the games.

Game 1, Friday May 8th: Nats 5, Diamondbacks 4.

This game was murder on me. I have to be at work early on Saturdays, so a Friday night game, especially a west coast game, takes a lot out of me, ending as they do after 1:00 a.m. eastern time.

The Nats came back from being down 1-0 to go up 4-1, then 4-2, then 5-2 and held on as the D-Backs mounted their comeback. Jésus Flores and Adam Dunn both had homers, starter Shairon Martis got the win, and Kip Wells got a save.

Game 2, Saturday May 9th: Nats 2, Diamondbacks 1.

Starter John Lannan got his second win and kept the D-Backs off of the scoreboard for his six innings, and the D-Backs didn't score their one run until the bottom of the 9th, which added a thrilling, if horrible, aspect to the game if you're a Nats fan. Adam Dunn went long again, a homer that hit 50 feet above left-centerfield. If he'd hit that at Nationals Park, I believe that it would have landed in the Red Loft, or on the plaza. Ryan Zimmerman also went deep, so between him and Dunn, the two of them accounted for all of the Nats scoring. The bullpen held, and Joel Hanrahan got the save.

Game 3, Sunday May 10th (Mother's Day): Diamondbacks 10, Nats 8.

Despite 13 hits, including four home runs (two of which were on consecutive plate appearances, from Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham), the Nationals were undone by two errors and a faltering bullpen. Despite gaining the lead twice, the Nats allowed 17 hits by the D-Backs.
Adam Dunn's two homers pushed his season total to 11, putting him behind only St. Louis's Albert Pujols (who has 12) for the moment. He is a lot of fun to watch hit. If only his defense were as impressive. Willingham continues to make the most of his opportunities, with his good defense and his two, count 'em, two homers.

Now, on to San Francisco and the Giants, currently a better team than the Diamondbacks and only a little bit worse than the division-leading Dodgers. The Nats will need to make sure that they have more than "flowers in their hair"** to take two of three in the City by the Bay.

In other news, presumptive Nationals #1 pick in the June college draft (one month away) Stephen Strasberg, threw the only no-hitter of his college career in his final college start, against Air Force. Nationals assistant-G.M. Mike Rizzo said that, if the draft were today, Strasberg would be their pick, but that a lot can happen in 30 days. Über-sports agent Scott Boras is expected to ask for a six-year, $50-million contract for Strasberg, which would set a new high for a #1 drafted player.

(** '60's Scott Mackenzie song. Look it up.)

Friday, May 8, 2009

Nats trade 6-run innings with Dodgers, emerge victorious 11-9, rise to 8-18

In the City of the Angels, on the National Day of Prayer, it was the Nationals fans whose prayers were answered. To the skeptics (of which I was one, early on), it started off as the "Nationals Day of not-having-a prayer".

This night's game promised to be interesting even before it began. Future Hall-of-Famer and perennial All-Star Manny Rameirez of the Los Angeles Dodgers received a 50-game suspension from MLB for a pharmacological offense (performance-enhancing drug) discovered in Spring Training. He would not face the Nationals tonight, which was a lucky break for them.

Nats starter, Jordan Zimmermann had the rockiest start you could imagine. He allowed a Grand Slam and two other runs in the 1st inning, but he kept his composure and didn't allow another run throughout the rest of his start.

I thought this game was over at the end of the first, but I wanted to see what the Nats could do.

They kept battling, and put one run on in the 6th and then 3 runs in the 7th, and I began to wonder, "Gee, maybe they can tough this one out and tie things up." Little did I realize that, in the 8th inning, they would score 6 runs and bat around the order on their way to rallying back from their early hole.

Things got scary again at the bottom of the 8th when reliever Joe Beimel allowed one run and then filled the bases with two out, but Beimel battled Dodger Juan Pierre with 2 out, and with a 1-2 count, managed to get Pierre to chop one close enough for 1B Nick Johnson to toss the ball to Beimel, racing Pierre to first base to end the inning.

I don't think that I've ever held my breath for that long before. *PHEW!*

My heart was almost oxygen-starved again as closer Kip Wells struggled in the 9th and almost blew it, allowing two runs.

Oh, and Ryan Zimmerman pushed his hitting streak to 25 games. For their part, the Dodgers' Major League record of undefeated home games to begin a season was halted at 13. It was the Nationals first win in Los Angeles in three years.

Josh Willingham was one of several hitting heroes tonight, but he also made a key defensive play where it looked like he'd injured himself. Perhaps it was fitting that he recorded the final out to this 3.5+ hour slugfest. It was truly a team win. 18 hits!

What a game. How the heck am I supposed to get any decent sleep when my heart is still beating so fast?

Nats collapse against Dodgers, lose 10-3, fall to 7-17

These west-coast games are always a little tough on me. I began watching it late because @#$& Comcast had their schedules all screwed-up. They said that the game was to begin on MASN at 10:30, and instead, it was on MASN2, which you would never know, because the Comcast listing had the time slot for "Tonight from Washington". I've complained about this before - what IS the problem, Comcast or MASN? I blame Comcast.

Things started off well enough with Daniel Cabrera pitching, but then came the flurry of walks and the wheels falling off of the bus. The Nats lost ugly, 10-3.

The only good part was Ryan Zimmerman extending his hitting streak to 24 games.

The Dodgers kept their undefeated-at-home-this-season streak alive as well. I believe that they are sitting upon a Major League record.

And so it goes.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Nats battle Astros to 10-10 11th-inning rain postponement

Thank goodness that there are no ties in baseball, but I feel sorry for the poor fans who sat through this afternoon's see-saw slugfest between the Nationals and the Astros, only to have the rain postpone the game. It will be made up, right where it left off, when the Nationals travel to Houston this summer. How surreal will THAT be? I'd love to know what the rules are in this situation. Do they play it as though it did not end, i.e. all players taken out are still out of the game? I hope I get to see that on MASN.

Most importantly, Ryan Zimmerman kept his hitting streak going, now at 23 games.

The Nats started off down 1-0, then went up 2-1 on an Elijah Dukes home run off of the so-called "Fred Astaire" of starting pitchers, Roy Oswalt. In the 5th, the Astros re-gained the lead 3-2, then went up 5-2. In the 6th, the Nats re-gained the lead 6-5 on walks, then going up 8-5. In the 7th, the Astros tied it up 8-8, then went ahead 9-8 in the 8th. The Nats went ahead 10-9, but couldn't hold it in the 9th, allowing the Astros to tie it up 10-10. Six lead changes and a LOT of walks! Just crazy.

Fortunately, the Nats outlasted Houston starter, Oswalt, one of the best starters in baseball over the past 8 years. By staying in the game for the duration of his start, the Nats helped their own cause greatly and were able to take advantage of the weak Astro bullpen.

Can't wait to see the end of this one in several weeks. Man, I hope they finally win it!

Nats top Astros 9-4, rise to 7-17.

Didn't get to see much of this game, due to business interference, but from what I DID see and read about later, this was the best game the Nationals have played all season, a come-from-behind thriller to anyone who attended the game.

John Lannan FINALLY got his first win, and Ryan Zimmerman extended his hitting streak (in no small part, thanks to 4 hits) to 22 games.

To come back from being down 4-2 to win 9-4 is pretty impressive for this team right now. So glad to see it. I hope they keep it going.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Nats/Cards Sunday soaked out

Steady rain kept the game from being played today, the second rain-out of the season so far.

The good news is, because of Shairon Martis's complete game on Saturday, the bullpen has had two days off and should be completely rested to take on the Astros who come into town tonight.

Martis "completely" dominates Cards; Nats win 6-1, rise to 6-17

Another Saturday afternoon game that I had to miss due to work. Thank goodness for D.V.R.'s

I got to miss Shairon Martis throw a complete game, which is a first in the Manny Acta era. Ryan Zimmerman extended his hitting streak to 21 games. Adam Dunn had a 3-run homer.

The Nats won, 6-1, and by all accounts, Martis dominated the Cardinals. The cynic in me says, "Yeah, but they were resting Albert Pujols." Still, a win's a win.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Pujols pounds rookie pitcher: Nats lose to Cardinals 6-2, fall to 5-17

Newsflash: Jordan Zimmermann is human. Film at 11:00.

Well, it had to happen sooner or later. Nats rookie pitcher Jordan Zimmermann lost his first major league game. It wasn't really his fault, he wasn't making mistakes, but the veteran St. Louis Cardinals, led by The Best Player in Baseball (Albert Pujols) weren't going to be stymied by a rookie pitcher. He allowed 5 runs on 8 hits in 5 2/3 innings and 101 pitches, and didn't walk anybody.

There was a little excitement on the Nationals side, as Ryan Zimmerman extended his hitting streak to 20 games, Willie "Home Run" Harris hit a 2-run homer, and Jesus "Trip" Flores hit his second triple in as many nights.

I had tickets for this game, but I didn't go. I usually have to work early on Saturdays, so Friday night games are always suspect, especially if there is a chance for a rain delay (thunderstorms were called for up until several hours ago) or a long game with extra innings.

Weird thing - on MASN HD, for a long time, the Spanish language sound feed bled into the Carpenter-Dibble feed, and it was a little surreal. If I understood Spanish, it probably would have really been distracting for me. When the Cardinals hit a home run, it sounded just like it does when watching a soccer game on a spanish language channel: "HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOME RUN!" instead of "GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL!" That made me chuckle.
Perhaps MASN was just celebrating Hispanic Heritage Day a little bit early?

Another night, another loss, but at least tonight the Nats didn't beat themselves and they had their chances. Sad when this is the only consolation that we can take.

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

Survey of the Moment