WASHINGTON, D.C. — Nationals Park has been open for over two seasons now, but yesterday was the first time my wife was able to see a game there. Her father (who has seen a game there) had been involved in the construction of the exterior walls, so the Washington Nationals is a source of family pride. I was very excited to take her there, but then I realized John Lannan was pitching and got concerned. While Lannan has been a steady starter for several years, it seems he’s been lit up every time I have seen him pitch.
[flickr : Battle of the Beltways 2010/slideshow]
In the inning, the hated,subsidized, cowardly Baltimore Orioles singled twice off of Lannan to open the game. The Nats traded two outs for a run on double-play ball. I was a little concerned that once again, Lannan would let me down in person.
In the bottom of the inning, Nyjer Morgan singled for that Nats. Cristain Guzman repsonded with a bunt that he beat out for a hit. grounded to short, catching Guzman at second, but since Zimmerman hustled, he was safe. Kevin Millwood hit Josh Willingham with a pitch after Adam Dunn popped out to load the bases. Roger Bernadina’s deep drive to center bounced out of Adam Jones glove for base clearing triple. I though tot myself instead of Battle of the Beltways, they ought to call this the Battle of Overrated Centerfielders. Ian Desmond struck out to end the inning.
At that was it. The scoring stopped. Lannan seemed to go full count on every third batter and issued two out walks in consecutive innings, but was not giving up hits. His pitch count started getting more reasonable as the game progressed. After a lead-off walk and an out, manager Jim Riggleman pulled Lannan in favor of rookie Drew Storen. Lannan had thrown 88 pitches and left the game with a chance to earn the win. I was pleasantly surprised. Storen got out of the inning without damage. In the following inning, he made his first plate appearance in the majors, wearing the double-earflapped helmet (Natioals.co of a bat boy. Storen went the other way to record his first hit of his career and the second by a Nats pitcher that afternoon (Lannan had singled in the fourth). Storen got stranded, but came back and pitched a 1-2-3 7th inning.
The scoring remained absent until the top of the ninth. With Matt Capps on the mound (it felt good cheering “Let’s go Capps!”) the Orioles rallied and the few fans in attendance got uppity. After a Ty Wigginton strikeout, Luke Scott reached on an infield single. Jones doubled, setting up Matt Wieters second sacrfice RBI of the day. Julio Lugo singled and the game was tied. Capps then got the Garrett Akins to fly out after Lugo advanced on a stolen base and throwing error by Wil Nieves. Still, it was the first blown save of 2010 by Capps and lucky me, I got to see it.
The ninth inning featured the top of the order, but Morgan and Guzman were both retired by the first baseman. Mr. Walkoff, Ryan Zimmerman, was up next, but instead of his sixth career walkoff home run, he grounded to third. Hmmph.
Doug Slaten came in to pitch the 10th and threw a 1-2-3 inning. In the bottom of the inning, after Willie Harris grounded out, Willingham ended it with a swing on a 2-1 pitch (nationals.com video) — the ball landed 409 feet later into the Orioles bullpen. As Willingham cleared the bases, Lugo kicked dirt at him (DC Sports Bog, The Post). I’m guessing Lugo will get a bonus from Peter Angelos for that classy move.
I limited myself to one half-smoke.
We had great Metro luck on the way in. On the way out, we took a cab back to Pentagon City.
Somebody gave us free tickets in section 403. Thanks dude!
Post write up
Thomas Boswell is making Kool-Aid again. I’ll admit I’m a little thirsty.