Friday, June 03, 2005

All hail the Saint

St. Barry of Svrluga is one damn good writer.

Last night's comeback win against the Braves was of epic proportions. All of us in Nats-land were absolutely giddy. I honestly don't think I can discuss this game rationally, at least without resorting to tired, over-used clichés about grit and determination -- true though they might be. It would be accurate to say the Nats are gritty, scrappy, etc... but that wouldn't be good writing.

Thank goodness for St. Barry, the patron saint of the Nats blogosphere.

"When the Washington Nationals reported to their dugout in the middle of the eighth inning last night, they left so much back out on the field. Two crucial errors, the ball knocking around RFK Stadium. Men picked off base that squelched two opportunities, double play balls that squashed two others. When they jogged in, a one-run lead against the Atlanta Braves had turned into a three-run deficit, and there was very little reason to puff out their chests.

"Yet tearing in from right field came Jose Guillen, ready to grip the bat and poke his teammates with it at the same time.

"'Let's go,' teammate Carlos Baerga recalled Guillen yelling. 'Let's show these people we can come back.'

"So they did."

Bennett was the primary offensive hero, but credit also goes to "Pops" Guillen and his attitude.

So many things went wrong. In the eighth, Majewski wasn't lights out for about the first time, well, ever. Nick Johnson, the original Señor Nasty, sits down with a case of acid reflux, forcing Big Boy Baerga to play first base in the eighth, despite the fact that Wilkerson was the logical replacement.

Well, Guzman one-hopped a throw to first base, which is not a problem if NJ is on the bag. But Baerga olé-d the throw, waving at it like a Little Leaguer who's scared of the ball. That should have been the last out of the inning, but it allowed Estrada to come up and drive home two runs, while a third scored on Wilkerson's poor throw.

But -- as St. Barry reported -- when the final out was made, "Pops" Guillen started yelling. And the Nats responded. I won't give you a blow-by-blow account of the bottom of the eighth, if you're reading this, I'm sure you saw it. Everybody stepped up. And the person I'm probably happiest for is Gary Majewski. He looked like he took his performance very, very hard -- sitting in the dugout with his head in his hands.

I wish I had a picture of Pops and Frankie as Bennett got his game-winning hit. They showed a replay on TV; Guillen was tugging on Frankie's sleeve like an excited little kid as Bennett's double fell into the gap. Gosh, I love that guy.

More words from the Saint:

"If there is psychology involved in sitting in second place rather than last -- even in June -- then, indeed, there is such a thing as a tremendous psychological win. Bennett provided it with his bat. Guillen provided it with his vocal chords. And the Nationals headed into the series against the Marlins with momentum that, only minutes before, they seemed unlikely to have."


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