…including the Nationals 4-game winning streak.
The Nats lost to the Blue Jays on Sunday, 9-4. Shairon Martis’ on the mound was less than stellar — 6 runs on 8 hits in 5 innings of work. The game was over after the 1st inning, when the Blue Jays had a 4-0 lead. Not even a surprising 3-4 performance from Josh Bard could save the day for the Nats. The 3 runs given up by Joel
Suckrahan Hanrahan in the top of the 9th inning were the nails in the coffin. For the record, the only reason I’m not calling him Suckrahan now is because his team was already down by 4 when he entered the game, so the 3 runs he gave up didn’t really matter.
Speaking of Hanrahan, I absolutely cannot figure out why he is still pitching for the Nationals rather than for the AAA Syracuse Chiefs. The only logical reason I can think of for his continued presence on the big league club is that he has some nude photographs of manager Manny Acta, acting GM Mike Rizzo, and/or team president Stan Kasten. I assume that Hanrahan is out of options, and the Nationals don’t think they could get him through waivers if they tried to send him down. But really, if some other
sucker team claims him, so what?! I don’t have anything personal against Hanrahan…he seems like a very nice guy. I met him last September at the season ticket holder Picnic in the Park, and he was very nice and very friendly. He even joked with me when I bumped into the sign with his name on it and knocked it over. (I’m a klutz….) From what I can tell, he really is a nice guy. He’s just not a major league reliever!
Next up for the Nationals in interleague play — the Red Sox. I have absolutely no idea what to expect where this series is concerned. I was convinced that the Nats would be swept by the Yankees, and they ended up winning 2 of 3 games. Will they continue their strong performances of late and win the Red Sox series, or will they revert to form and be swept? Who knows? All I can say for sure is that I’ll be at Nationals Park for all 3 games.
OK, I wore my Mussina Yankees jersey and my Nationals cap for this game. I was ready for whatever would happen tonight!
My prediction about the score of tonight’s game was wrong…and CC Sabathia didn’t pitch a complete game…and it wasn’t Kip Wells who replaced Shairon Martis. But I was right about Martis pitching well — I certainly didn’t expect him to leave the game with a lead. And I was definitely right about his effort being wasted when the Nats bullpen entered the game. Ironically, Ron Villone was the last pitcher I expected to give up the lead, since he has pitched quite well for the Nationals this season. Oh, and I absolutely did not expect Anderson Hernandez to hit that home run — just the second of his MLB career — off of Sabathia. My jaw nearly hit the floor when that thing left the park! I knew that 1-run lead wouldn’t last…and I was right.
Overall, this game turned out better than I thought it would. I really expected a blowout, so I’m pleased that the Nationals were not humiliated, and I’m pleased that the Yankees won to keep pace with the Red Sox, who defeated the Marlins.
One down…two to go………
OK…this is it…well, almost it…one more day until the Yankees/Nationals 3 game interleague series at Yankee Stadium. I’m still going slightly bonkers over this series, trying to decide if I should root for one team over the other, or just cheer for both teams and not care about the outcome. Should I happen to take leave of my senses and root for the Nationals over the Yankees in this series, it would be completely irrelevant. Why? Because I am 99.9 percent sure that the Yankees will easily sweep this series, and at least one of the games will closely resemble yesterday’s Yankees/Mets blowout for the Yankees. I suspect this series will be quite an(other) ugly one for the Nationals.
Without further ado, here are my predictions for this series.
Tuesday, June 16 — CC Sabathia vs. Shairon Martis
My prediction: Yankees 12, Nationals 1.
While with the Brewers, Sabathia shut out the Nats last August, 5-0. Either Ryan Zimmerman or Adam Dunn will hit a solo home run early in the game for the Nationals, and then Sabathia will shut down the Nats offense and pitch a complete game. Martis will pitch well for 5 innings, keeping the score fairly close. With the Yankees leading, Martis will be replaced by Kip Wells, who will give up 5 or 6 runs…and the rout will be on.
Wednesday, June 17 — Chien-Ming Wang vs. John Lannan
My predicition: Yankees 7, Nationals 4.
This could be the final test for Wang. If he pitches poorly against the Nationals, his future in pinstripes could be in serious jeopardy. If the Nationals manage to win a game in this series, this wwould be the game they win. But it’s not gonna happen. Wang will miraculously pitch well for a full 7 innings. Lannan will pitch very well for 6 innings but get very little run support, and then the Nationals bullpen will once again implode, allowing the Yankees to cruise to a victory.
Thursday, June 18 — Joba Chamberlain vs. Craig Stammen
My prediction: Yankees 8, Nationals 5.
For some reason, I have a feeling there will be some hit batters on both sides, and a bench clearing push-and-shove (as opposed to a bench clearing brawl — no punches thrown, just some pushing snd shoving). Someone on the Nationals will have a hissy fit over Chamberlain’s post-strikeout gesticulations, batters will be hit, and minor mayhem will follow. The umpires will shoo everyone back to their respective dugouts, and the Yankees will complete the sweep.
As Forrest Gump would say, that’s all I have to say about that.
Phillies 9, Nationals 6
Once again, the Nationals took the early lead over the Phillies, when Josh Willingham and Alberto Gonzalez scored on a Wil Nieves double, and then Nieves scored on an Anderson Hernandez single. But Ryan Howard hit two home runs, including a grand slam, to lead the Phillies over the Nats. Shairon Martis got his first loss of the season, after a poor performance in which he surrendered 7 runs on 7 hits, including the 2 homers to Howard, in just 4 innings. Shockingly, the 6 Nationals relievers who followed Martis did not give up any earned runs; Mike MacDougal — recently called up from Triple A Syracuse — had two unearned runs thanks to an error from Anderson Hernandez. How ironic and frustrating that when the bullpen finally seems to be pitching a bit better, the starting pitching falls apart!
As if ANOTHER loss isn’t bad enough, it looks like Jesus Flores will be out for a lot longer than expected. He had been scheduled to return from the disabled list this weekend, but he has suffered a setback in his recovery from a shoulder injury. Jesus experienced some pain in his shoulder. His shoulder has been examined by the Nationals team physician, and he’ll be examined by orthopedist James Andrews on Monday. This does not sound good at all…I am worried.
Yankees 10, Indians 5
There were 4 home runs hit in this game…and it wasn’t even played at Yankee Stadium!
Jorge Posada (HIP HIP JORGE!) and Nick Swisher hit home runs for the Yankees, while Grady Sizemore and Shin-Soo Choo hit home runs for the Indians. Jorge had just one hit for the night, but he made it count!
CC Sabathia had a no-hitter going into the 5 inning against his former team. Choo broke up that no-no with a single in the bottom of the 5th. For the night, CC allowed 3 runs on five hits, with 3 walks and 8 strikeouts in 7 innings of work. Even without a no-hitter, it was a pretty good way to return to Cleveland. Good job, big guy!
Oh, and it should be noted that this was the 16th consecutive errorless game for the Yankees. That is one short of the MLB record set by the Red Sox in June 2006. That deserves another thumbs up……
Is interleague play really necessary anymore? In my opinion, the novelty has worn off. It was fun at first, but it’s just not as interesting as it initially was. This weekend, in particular — with some of the so-called “rivalries” games — was just…well, boring. Was anyone other than the fans of the respective teams really interested in the result of the series between the last place Nationals and the last place Orioles, or the result of the series between the last place A’s and the next-to-last place Diamondbacks? Of course, last place teams in each league do play other last place teams within their own leagues, but those aren’t hyped the way interleague series are hyped.
Another reason why I’m no longer a big fan of interleague play is because it creates a major, and possibly dangerous, disadvantage for AL teams when they play in NL ballparks. Thanks to the lack of a DH in the AL, pitchers don’t normally have to bat, and therefore aren’t used to running the bases. At best, they risk tiring sooner than they normally would; at worst, they risk injury. Remember, it was during interleague play last year when Chien-Ming Wang’s season ended due to a foot injury suffered while running the bases.
Fans generally still seem to enjoy interleague play, as evidenced by the fact that attendence rises for it. I googled “interleague play” tonight out of curiosity, and I found an article showing that ballplayers apparently are far less fond of interleague play than fans. According to Jayson Stark at ESPN.com:
Players we surveyed this week told Rumblings they would estimate the number of players who dislike interleague play is somewhere in the neighborhood of 70-75 percent.
Stark mentions several of the players’ complaints regarding interleague play, most of which make a lot of sense, IMO.
One suggestion made by a ballplayer caught my attention in that ESPN.com article.
Phillies pitcher Chad Durbin proposed an idea we’ve campaigned for forever: “Use the visiting team’s league rules,” he said. “Show the fans something unique.”
I think that’s pretty interesting. It would definitely be unique.
What do you think? Do you still find interleague play fun and/or interesting?
Yankees vs. Phillies
The home run total at the Bronx Bandbox increased by 12 during the weekend interleague series between the Yankees and the Phillies — 6 by each team — as the Yankees lost 2 of 3 games to the Phillies. There have been 87 home runs already at Yankee Stadium, and it’s not even at the end of May. Just imagine how the home runs will be flying out of the park once the temperature and humidity go up later in the season!
Friday: the Yankees lost, 7-3, in a game that included a total of 7 home runs. The testosterone level on the field skyrocketed on the field in the 1st inning when Brett Myers threw a pitch behind Derek Jeter, in obvious retaliation after A.J. Burnett hit Chase Utley in the shoulder. The plate umpire then warned both dugouts. Personally, I think it’s ridiculous to throw a pitch at a batter. If you hit him, you give the opposing team a baserunner, and you risk injuring him. Why not just have the pitcher and hitter drop their pants, whip it out to see which one is bigger, and then get on with the game.
Chien-Ming Wang was activated before the game, replaced Burnett in the 7th inning. He threw 51 pitches, giving up 2 runs (including a home run) on 6 hits. His pitches had more velocity, but his location was off a bit. Maybe he’s just rusty?
Saturday: the Yankees were victorious in a 5-4 come from behind win. Those 9th inning comebacks seem to be becoming a Yankees trademark this season. Oh, and “only” 4 home runs were hit in that game.
Sunday: the Yankees lost, 4-3, in 11 innings, before a crowd of 46,986. That’s the largest Yankee Stadium crowd since opening day. Melky Cabrera did his best to be the hero for the second night in a row, hitting a game-tying single in the 9th inning. But it wasn’t meant to be…no wild celebration for the Yankees after this game. CC Sabathia pitched very well, allowing just 3 runs on 9 hits over 8 innings. But with two outs and the score tied in the 11th inning, Brett Tomko walked Chase Utley, and after Utley stole second, Carlos Ruiz doubled to score Utley. The Yankees were unable to score in the bottom of the 11th.
Interleague play resumes for the Yankees on June 12th, vs. the Mets at Yankee Stadium.
Nationals vs. Orioles
The Battle of the Beltways — i.e., the interleague series between the Nationals and the Orioles — wasn’t quite as much of a snoozer as I thought it would be. Yes, both teams stink, and the games probably held very little interest for anyone other than Nats or O’s fans. But the Nationals starting pitchers had very good games on Friday and Saturday, although the usually prolific offense fell asleep on those nights in losses to the Orioles. However, the offense woke up in time to bail out a less than spectacular effort from Sunday’s starter to prevent a sweep.
Friday: the Nationals lost, 4-2 in 12 innings. Jordan Zimmermann had the longest start of his young career, allowing 2 runs on 6 hits over 7 innings. Zimm2 walked 1, struck out 7, and gave up a home run. But the Nationals offense took the night off, scoring just 2 runs (on Ryan Zimmerman’s 4th inning homer, with Nick Johnson on 1st). It would be easy to blame the bullpen again for this loss…but if the offense had not fallen asleep, the game’s outcome might have been different.
Saturday: I was at this game, a 2-1 loss, getting to see Ross Detweiler for myself. He did not disappoint, with a 6 inning, 1 hit and 1 run performance. Justin Maxwell sparkled on defense with an outstanding catch above and over the wall in centerfield, robbing Brian Roberts of a home run. Julian Tavarez gave up a run in the 7th to give the Orioles a lead that they never lost. The Nats’ normally porous bullpen prevented the Orioles from scoring additional runs, but for the second night in a row, the Nationals offense took the night off. Another game…another loss. Ho hum.
Sunday: I was at this game as well, an 8-5 victory to avoid the sweep. Shairon Martis did not have his A-game, but his offense finally woke up and let him off the hook. His defense helped him out as well…in particular, a leaping catch in front of the out-of-town scoreboard in right field by Austin Kearns, robbing Nick Markakis of a hit in the first inning. Martis also helped himself out with an RBI single in the 5th inning, scoring Wil Nieves to tie the score at 3. Adam Dunn got it done with 2 homers, including a grand slam in the 7th inning after the Orioles intentionally walked Ryan Zimmerman to get to Dunn. Anderson Hernandez added to the defensive highlights with a spectacular diving catch of a Brian Roberts line drive in the 8th inning. Wonder of wonders, Ron Villone, Joe Beimel, and Joel Hanrahan combined to shut down the Orioles over the last 3 innings — no hits, no walks, no runs. Amazing!!
Interleague play resumes for the Nationals on June 12th at Tampa Bay.
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.
Ever have a feeling that something is going to happen, before it happens?
After Tuesday night’s loss to the Giants, I had a feeling that Ryan Zimmerman’s hit streak would end at 30. I just had this unshakable feeling that 30 games was it. That’s why I mentioned “The Event That Shall Not Be Named” — TETSNBN — in my post after the game. TETSNBN can be named now…Ryan Zimmerman’s 30 game hit streak, which unfortunately came to an end on Wednesday afternoon against the Giants. From April 8 through May 12, Zimm’s stats were:
Outstanding numbers…outstanding streak!
More on Zimmerman’s hit streak:
Longest hit streaks in Nationals/Expos history
Year Player Games
1999 Vladimir Guerrero 31
2009 Ryan Zimmerman 30
2002 Vladimir Guerrero 26
2002 Jose Vidro 21
1993 Delino DeShields 21
Longest hit streaks, third basemen
Year Player Games
1978 Pete Rose 44
1893 George Davis 33
2009 Ryan Zimmerman 30
1980 George Brett 30
Longest hit streaks since 2000
Year Player Games
2005-06 Jimmy Rollins 38
2006 Chase Utley 35
2009 Ryan Zimmerman 30
2007 Moises Alou 30
2006 Willy Taveras 21
2003 Albert Pujols 30
2005 Johnny Damon 29
Some of Zimm’s postgame comments (per yahoo.com):
“I’m not relieved it’s over, because I would have liked to keep it
going for as long as I can,” said Zimmerman, who fell just short of
Vladimir Guerrero’s franchise-record 31-game streak with Montreal in
1999. “But it’ll be good to go back to the usual routine. … I’ve said
every day that I’d rather win. It’s been a tough year for us. I feel
like we’re a lot better than our record.”
It’s been a pleasure to watch Zimm this season…not just because of the streak, but because of his overall performance. He’s been one of the few bright spots in what has been an extremely dismal and frustrating season so far. And the way he handled himself through the streak was just as impressive as the streak itself. There was no hint of cockiness or arrogance at any point during the last 30 games; he remained on an even keel, with his humility intact.
Well done, Ryan. Congratulations on a marvelous streak and a terrific start to the season. Keep up the great work! And you’re still Superman to me!
Maybe Zimm will start another lengthy hit streak against the Phillies on Friday. I will be there, and I will definitely give him a standing ovation before his first at bat.
Although I was disappointed that Zimm’s hit streak came to an end, I was pleased that the Nationals beat the Giants, 6-3. Shairon Martis pitched another good game, allowing just 1 run on 2 hits over 7 innings and improving his W/L record to 5-0. Martis even hit a double in the 5th inning and then scored on Nick Johnson’s double. Johnson himself had an outstanding game, going 4-5 with 2 RBI. It’s always nice to get a win…especially when they don’t happen very often!
By the way, I was very impressed with the class displayed by Giants fans when they gave Zimm an ovation after his final at bat, acknowledging the end of his hit streak. Way to go, Giants fans! 🙂
The Washington Capitals were not as lucky as the Nationals…they lost Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals to the Pittsburgh Penguins, 6-2. Very disappointing, to say the least. First Zimmerman’s streak ends, then the Caps lose…not a great day. 😦 But the Caps had a great season, and I look forward to bigger and better things next season.
Now, let’s see…whom shall I root for the rest of the way? Definitely not the Penguins…the Blackhawks? The Ducks? The Red Wings? The Hurricanes? The Bruins? Hmmmm…..