Thursday, May 19, 2005

Great Night For A Ballgame

Nats 1, Brewers 0

"That cement head is thinking more about that girl than today's game. Remember, this son. One percent of ballplayers are leaders of men. The other 99 percent are followers of women." - John McGraw
Although the great John McGraw might disagree with me, sometimes girls and baseball do mix, and mix very well.

W.P. Kinsella himself couldn't have drawn up a better script for a night to take the future Mrs. Rocket1124 to the ballpark. Great weather, good seats, fast-paced game and an exciting ending with the winning run scored by her new favorite player.

Before leaving work yesterday, the Mrs. Rocket1124-to-be informs me that she wants a Nats shirt. Always ready to please, I stop by Modell's and snap up a red Brad Wilkerson #7 shirt - it being about the only one they had left, so I thought nothing of it. But walking to the stadium from the car, she quizzed me relentlessly on Wilkerson, his stats and what kind of a player he is.

The game moved quickly. That's huge when you are bringing a casual fan to the game. A slow moving game with a ton of walks will bore even some hardcore fans.

She cheered when Wilkerson came to the plate and led off with a double. Unfortunately, Frankie was a wee bit too aggressive and more or less managed us out of the inning.

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She applauded Loaiza throughout the game as he pitched a gem. 8 innings, 6 hits, 5 Ks, 0 R. But she sat in disbelief when he was picked off first base in the sixth inning. "What the hell was that?!" were her words.

After Majewski got the Brewers in order in the top of the 9th, the RFK faithful came to its feet. Last night was my fifth game of the year, and the stadium was easily the loudest I've experienced since Opening Night.

The future missus' favorite led off the inning, getting plunked in the arm. "It looked like he turned into it," she said. Probably, that's what good players do, sweetheart.

Vinny comes to the plate after Carroll sacrifices Wilky to second. He hits a grounder to third that Branyan can't handle. Everyone's safe.

She boos lustily when Milwaukee intentionally walks Nick Johnson to load the bases. Up comes the bloated corpse of Jeffrey Hammonds to see what he can do. Suprisingly, Frankie goes against "the book" and lets Hammonds hit.

And wonder of wonders, he pulls a grounder inside the third base bag past the drawn-in infield.

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RFK erupts and the future Mr. and Mrs. Rocket1124 jump up and cheer as Wilkerson trots home to score the winning run.

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Nats win!

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"Yay! That was fun!" she says, as we walk down the concourse.

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As we leave RFK and head out into the night, I smile, hoping the Nats have converted another.

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-What a gem by Loaiza. It's a crying shame we can't get any runs while he's on the mound.
-Capuano also pitched very well, although I can't shake the feeling we didn't work the count enough. Capuano threw 99 pitches over 8 and 1/3 innings. That's not all that many.
-Tonights crowd of about 29,500 was very impressive considering it was a weeknight against the Brewers. It was also the most lively crowd since Opening Night. This is a going to be a special summer, I feel.
-Final Verdict: Not the best game Washington has ever played, but maybe one of the most exciting. It says a lot about a team when they find ways to win, even games when they don't play all that well. I love this team.


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