Saturday, June 10, 2006

Best Nats Game Ever!!!

It's 12:41 AM. I just finished watching the best Nationals game I've ever seen. The Nats won 9-8 (on 17 hits!!!) on Robert Fick's game-winning single in the bottom of the 12th inning. I was watching the game on TV, but by the third inning I was seriously considering getting in my car and making the 15-minute drive to RFK Stadium and joining the crowd. I was hooting and hollering so loudly that my wife woke up from her slumber on the couch and said grouchily: "just go to the game, then!!!" I didn't, though, because I was 3/4 of the way through a Friday night-sized glass of Rebel Yell (yee-haw!) and because I thought by the time I got there it'd be in the 6th inning or so and a waste of time. Little did I know that the game would feature three bonus innings!

I started watching the game after the 1.5 hour rain delay, and a few Nats bloopers had the team down 2-0. The Nats quickly rebounded to make it 3-2 and then scored some more runs to make it 7-3. Then a Mike Stanton implosion made it 8-7 Nats but Brendan Harris singled in a run in the 7th to tie up the game. And that was it until the 12th...the Nats threatened several times in the intervening innings but couldn't get it done. There are so, so many reasons to love this game:

  • -Soriano was 0-6 with a walk and three strikeouts and the team still won. Go ahead, trade him! (I know, I know.)
  • -Seventeen hits! Wow.
  • -Another decent outing for Armas: 5.0 IP, 3ER, 6K
  • -Huge contributions from some of the new, young guys: Mike Vento reached first on what should have been a sacrifice bunt, Brendan Harris hit the tying single, and Bill Bray pitched three flawless innings, striking out three.
  • -This win was literally a whole-team effort. When Fick appeared in the bottom of the 12th, he was the last position player left on the bench. The game-winning hit was only his third of the year.
In short, the team overcame a terrific stinker of a seventh inning and grinded out their 15th win in their last 20 games. This is the kind of win that the team couldn't even dream of in April and early May. The Nats are now tied for third place with the Braves and are only five games below .500. If this keeps up, Jim Bowden and the new ownership group are going to have some very, very difficult decisions to make next month.

One final note before I head happily to bed: Brian Schneider is officially my favorite National. There is no doubt that he is the heart and soul of this franchise. He's always carrying himself with a can-do attitude, on the field and in the dugout. He's always the first one out of the dugout to congratulate a guy on a crucial play. He keeps a low profile in the media, never ripping teammates or management and accepting praise with humility. I am so glad that the team has signed him to a long-term deal. I think he's the one truly irreplaceable personality the franchise has right now. No, he's not the most valuable in terms of pure baseball talent, but he's nothing short of indispensable as a field general, a clubhouse leader, and a standard bearer for the emerging ethos of the Washington Nationals.