It’s been a while…over two months, in fact…but I’m back. Real life intruded upon my online time — work issues and personal issues kept my online time limited to just my message board for the most part, but I’m hoping that everything is resolved now, and I’ll be able to make regular contributions to this blog once again.
Let’s see…what has happened since my last blog entry? Well, starting with the Yankees:
With a sweep of the Twins in early July, the Yankees tied the Red Sox for the lead in the AL East for one game, surrendering the lead the very next day with the first of three losses to the Angels. Less than two weeks later, a win over the Orioles pushed the Yankees into another tie for first in the AL East with the Red Sox. The Yankees have been in first place ever since, and despite losing their first eight games against Boston this season, they now hold a 9-game lead over the Red Sox. Since my last blog post, the Yankees have had winning streaks of 7 games three times and an 8 game winning streak, with no losing streaks longer than 3 games.
As for the Nationals:
Suckrahan Hanrahan and Lastings Milledge were traded to the Pirates for Nyjer Morgan and Sean Burnett, giving the Nationals the centerfielder they’ve needed all season. Manager Manny Acta got the boot just before the All-Star game and was replaced by bench coach Jim Riggleman. Shortly thereafter, the Nationals front office sent a “We admit that we suck, but we’re trying not to suck quite so much” email to all season ticket holders and all fans who purchased Nationals tickets or merchandise online. The Nationals were 6-10 in July after Riggleman took over for Acta, and were 14-15 in August, including an 8-game winning streak in early August. The Nats traded Nick Johnson — the last remaining connection to the Montreal Expos — to the Marlins for minor league pitcher Aaron Thompson. Starting pitchers Scott Olsen, Jordan Zimmermann, Craig Stammen, and Collin Balester were lost for the season to injuries (shoulder surgery for Olsen, Tommy John surgery for Zimmernann, arthroscopic surgery to remove a bone spur int he elbow for Stammen, and an intercostal strain of his left
side for Balester). In need of an innings eater, and/or overtaken by nostalgia, the Nats signed pitcher (and former National) Livan Hernandez after he was released by the Mets. Oh, and the Nationals signed their number 1 draft choice — perhaps you’ve heard of him? — some guy named Stephen Strasburg.
Yep, that about covers it.
OK, for the time being, I will refrain from referring to Joel Hanrahan as Joel Suckrahan. He actually got a save tonight as the Nationals avoided a second straight 4-game sweep by beating the Pirates, 5-4.Not that
Suckrahan Hanrahan pitched well — he did not — but he somehow managed to keep the Pirates from scoring in the 9th inning.
I was at tonight’s game. Not only did the Nats win, but for just the second time this season, I didn’t have to deal with a rain delay. In fact, the weather was perfect!
Tonight’s game marked the major league debut of Craig Stammen, whose performance was actually better than his line indicates. Stammen pitched into the 7th inning, giving up 4 runs on 4 hits (including a home run), with a walk and 3 strikeouts. He was perfect through 4 innings before finally giving up a hit, and eventually a run, in the 5th. Things fell apart for Stammen in the 7th inning when he began to tire, and the Pirates took the lead. Manny Acta probably left him in the game a couple of pitchers too long, but considering how horrendous our bullpen is, I really can’t blame him for being hesitant to take Stammen out. Despite that 7th inning, Stammen was very impressive…he worked fast and threw strikes. That’s not something that can be said about any of Daniel Cabrera’s efforts this season.
I was ready to leave the game after the 7th inning. I had witnessed Stammen’s debut, so I was pleased. But the Pirates had taken the lead, and Stammen was out of the game, and I had little faith that the bullpen would prevent any additional scoring. I went to the bathroom and was on my way to the gate when someone with a funnel cake walked by me. I loooooooove funnel cakes (yes, I know they are bad for me…they are nothing but fried fat covered with sugar…but they are soooo gooooood…..). Seeing that funnel cake made me want one, so I did get a funnel cake. I sat at one of the picnic tables behind section 142 (or thereabouts) to eat it while watching the game. But then the Nats took the lead once more, so I ended up sticking around until the end of the game.
It was nice to see the Nats battle back in the 8th inning to regain the lead. Ryan Zimmerman’s single scored Cristian Guzman, and Adam Dunn got it done with a single that scored Nick Johnson. And I have to mention the nice catch Zimm made in foul territory for the first out in the 6th inning. He leaned over the rail and grabbed a ball that otherwise would have dropped into the front row of seats. I checked out the video of it when I got home from the game…a fan in the front row looked like he was going to try to catch the ball but pulled back at the last moment, allowing Zimm to make the catch. After he caught the ball, Zimm gestured towards the fan to thank him for not interferring. That was pretty funny!
And then came the 9th inning and Joel
Suckrahan Hanrahan. Adam LaRoche hit a fly ball to deep center, driving Willie Harris all the way to the wall to make the catch (whew…thanks, Willie!), and then Brandon Moss singled. Pretty much everyone in the ballpark figured that was it…Joel was about to blow another one. But he got the final two K’s, much to the crowd’s delight, and the Nationals were finally winners. The seven game losing streak is history.
Next up…interleague play with the Orioles coming to DC, in the Battle of the Beltways. Two crappy, last place teams…[sarcasm] boy oh boy, this should be an exciting series! [/end sarcasm]
Actually, I should change title of this blog entry to “The Nationals bullpen blows!” It would be appropriate.
Despite an excellent performance from starter John Lannan — 1 run over 7 innings, with 5 strikeouts — the Nationals lost to the Pirates, 2-1, on a wild pitch from Joel Suckrahan in the 9th inning. This was the Nats’ 7th straight loss.
The combined record of the Nationals bullpen is 1-15. Tonight’s loss was not the result of a blown save, but…the Nats bullpen has 12 blown saves in their first 18 chances this season…that’s 12 so far. But hey, it’s not even Memorial Day yet. There’s plenty of time for even more blown saves!
For weeks now, the Nationals offense has been a scoring machine. Unfortuntely, the bats were silent tonight, so Lannan’s efforts were completely wasted.
Have I mentioned lately that JOEL HANRAHAN SUCKS??
After tonight’s game, infielder Álex Cintrón and his .077 batting average were designated for assignment. Bye dude…don’t let the door hit you on the way out. Unfortunately, pitcher Daniel Cabrera is still with the team, but he has been moved to the bullpen. I would really prefer that he be moved back home to the Dominican Republic.
Ugh…I’m going to bed. I just hope I don’t have nightmares.
Yet again, ANOTHER loss due to a crappy performance by the Nationals bullpen. The Nats spotted the Pirates a 5-0 lead in the 3rd inning, and then came back to tie the game in the bottom of the 9th inning to send the game into extra innings. Mind you, the Nats had a chance to win the game in the 9th, but failed to do so. Nick Johnson hit a triple, Ryan Zimmerman walked, and then Johnson scored on a wild pitch by Pirates’ starter Russ Ohlendorf. With Zimmerman on 2nd as the potential game-winning run, Adam Dunn struck out. Josh Willingham walked, but then Willie Harris struck out, sending the game into the 10th inning. Since the Nationals had not won an extra innings game yet this season, I changed the channel from the Nationals game to the finale of “Dancing with the Stars.” (Congrats to Olympic champion gymnast Shawn Johnson, who won the DWTS mirror ball trophy!)
Changing the channel was a good idea.
Joe Beimel pitched a scoreless 9th inning, but then Ramón Vázquez singled, and Nyjer Morgan hit a sac fly, sending Vázquez to 2nd. Freddy Sánchez was intentionally walked, Nate McLouth flied out, and Vázquez moved to 3rd. And then…Adam LaRoche doubled, scoring Vázquez and Sánchez. Anderson Hernandez, Wil Nieves, and Alex Cintron (pinch hitting for Beimel) came to bat at the bottom of the 10th, but failed to even get a hit, much less score a run.
For some reason, Beimel seems to have some sort of cult following among at least a few Dodgers fans.
Personally, I can’t figure out why. The guy’s record is 0-3 for Washington, and he’s got 3 blown saves. I am not impressed.
I will give the Nats credit for coming back from a 5-0 deficit. They did make the game exciting. Too bad Beimel had to screw up the comeback.
Monday’s loss to the Pirates was thanks to a blown save by Garrett Mock, and it spoiled Ross Detweiler’s first start of the season. Detweiler allowed 3 runs (2 earned) on 4 hits while pitching 5 innings, with 6 strikeouts. All of the damage came in the 3rd inning, when Detweiler gave up a home run to Craig Monroe. Although the Nationals scored 5 runs in the bottom of the 5th to take the lead, the Pirates scored 5 runs in the top of the 6th and never looked back. The loss was just the same old same old for the Nats, but Detweiler’s performance was somewhat encouraging. I hope that he remains in the rotation when Scott Olsen comes off the DL, and the Daniel Cabrera is sent packing.
I thought (hoped) the .500 road trip would give the Nationals some momentun for their homestand. How silly of me. The Nats came home with the same bullpen that they had wne they left, and it’s giving us the same results. Five straight losses — including a 4-game sweep by the Phillies — three of which were via blown saves. The other two losses were courtesy of crappy starts from Scott Olsen and Daniel Cabrera. At least we now know that Olsen is hurt, which probably explains his loss of velocity and overall suckitude. However, there is no excuse, and no hope, for Cabrera. He needs to go NOW.
Shairon Martis is on the mound for the Nationals tonight against the Pirates. Maybe we’ll actually have a chance to win.
By the way, I apologize for being AWOL over the last few days. Contrary to how it may apprear, I did not disappear because of the Nats’ 5 straight losses (though I felt like it). I actually haven’t been able to type very much because of a minor wrist injury. I never cease to be amazed at the ridiculous ways I can hurt myself. (I could probably sprain an ankle from tripping over the crack of dawn.) I went to the supermarket on Saturday, and I somehow managed to hurt my wrist from carrying bags of groceries home. I don’t know what I did…I just picked up the stupid bags and my wrist hurt all of a sudden. I don’t recall bending it awkwardly, but that’s what it feels like I did. Of course it’s my right wrist, and I’m right-handed. I’ve been wearing an elastic bandage on it since Saturday evening. It’s feeling a bit better now, but I still need the bandage when I type, and especially when I use the mouse on my computer. Sheesh, what a klutz.
The Yankees played split squad games today — the big boys beat the Astros, 3-1, while the kids beat the Pirates by a field goal…I mean 3 runs, 13-10.
Vs. the Astros: Starter A.J. Burnett is 2-0 this spring after pitching 4 scoreless innings with 3 strikeouts. Johnny Damon hit a home run and A-Rod’s replacement Cody Ransom was 2-3 and scored a run.
Vs. the Pirates: In 3 innings, starter Phil Hughes gave up 2 home runs and three walks, and stuck out 2. The offense scored a touchdown and two field goals. OK, not really, but the Yankees scored 7 runs in the 7th inning to break a 3-3 tie and then added 3 insurance runs in the 9th.
As for the Nationals, they were being shut out by the Mets until the 9th inning, when they scored 6 unanswered runs to win the game, 6-2. Starter Shairon Martis gave up just 1 run, along with 4 hits and 2 walks, but no other runs in 4 innings.
My teams won their three games today by a combined score of 22-13! LOL