WASHINGTON, D.C. — Yesterday, nearly a dozen of us celebrating the impending obsolescence of our friend Fritz’s bachelorhood with a trip to Nationals Park. Seven years ago, my bachelor party (Tony Armas pitched — I think we’re still waiting for him to get through the 4th inning) was at RFK Stadium during a similar run of Washington Nationals excellence (one of the few to date!). We spent the afternoon in the bright sun of the left field bleachers.
After a tense 2-0 win over the Miami Marlins (I started typing Florida there), the Nats sent Stephen Strasburg to the mound yesterday. The ace labored in the bright sun and seemed to throw 3 balls for every 4 strikes. In the end, he threw 60 strikes out of 94, not quite as bad as it seemed. Strasburg struck out six and walked only one while keeping the Marlins off the scoreboard.
The Marlins starter, Anibal Sanchez was much more efficient than Strasburg, aided by the Nats swinging early and often. His pitch count started increasing and Ian Desmond finally broke through with a monster shot to left center for a 1-0 lead in the sixth.
An inning later, while The Maryland Bureau Chief Emeritus was asking how much the Nats were paying for Jayson Werth and his zero homers and Screech was confiscating a Phillies cap in section 104, Werth hit his first homer of the year to section 105 or 106 just to the right of where we were sitting.
The 2-0 lead in the 7th prompted the man of the hour to call our post-game restaurant (over several protests) and say that a 5 o’clock reservation might be too late as the game was moving along, thereby damning us to a blown Nats lead. Sure enough, Brad Lidge walked the first batter of the ninth before giving up a no-doubter, second deck homer to Logan Morrison to tie the game. Two walks later (one intentional against Chris Coghlan who wasn’t anywhere close to hitting his weight) Lidge got a ground ball to end the inning.
The Nats couldn’t get any runners on in the ninth — free baseball! Tom Gorzelanny threw a perfect inning. In the bottom of the tenth, Wilson Ramos led off with a single. Adam LaRoche grounded to first, but Ramos was safe after Jose Reyes bobbled the throw. LaRoche was safe too, as first base wasn’t touched before the throw. Desmond then came up and the Nats runners both advanced. We figured Marlins skipper Ozzie Guillen would then walk Desmond to load the bases and set up a force at any base, but Guillen did not which is weird because he never makes unusual decisions. Desmond hit a deep fly ball and Ramos scored easily, so it was all a moot point.
A good win, perhaps more dramatic than necessary (how many extra inning games/wins so far?) but it is hard to complain with a 12-4 record. 12-4! The Nats have taken the first four series of the season and taken advantage of a soft opening schedule which is crucial, especially with a west coast swing coming up this week.
Ryan Zimmerman was out with shoulder tightness which probably means he’ll need a new rotator cuff or something. He said he could have played through it, it was just sore from diving around making Gold Glove caliber plays.
The Pittsburgh fans in attendance were shocked by how many former Pirates the Nats have on their team. Oh and apparently Joel Hanrahan is still getting it done out there.
I guessed there’d be about 27,000-28,000 fans in attendance yesterday; there was 26,745 not bad. Reports over low-attendance for April games have been silly.
There were more Marlins fans than I recall ever seeing previously.
It was “Pups in the Park” which means the fan of the game was a dog — stupid.
The Nats road trip comes at a good time — the weather this week won’t be great in D.C.