Saturday, July 09, 2005

Cheeseburger In Paradise

Nats 8, Phils 7

Gracias a Dios

Well, that was interesting. Too interesting. Lately I've been chronicled Nats games that are typical; one runs wins, outstanding bullpen work picking up an anemic offense - you know the drill.

Not tonight. It was a sloppy, slugfest. And who led the way? The very man I bemoaned as a cleanup hitter, Cheeseburglar Baerga. You might think he made me look bad with his 2-4 night with 3 RBIs and 3 runs scored. Maybe. But then again, tonight Frank had the tremendous foresight not to bat him cleanup.

Baerga first made his presence felt in the top of the second inning. He singled on a sharp liner to center. With two out, Matt Cepicky doubled to the wall in left field. Good ol' Baerga turned on the jet engines, spinning his wheels faster than the Roadrunner but moving slower than molasses on a cold day. The throw to beat Baerga by a mile, but catcher Todd Pratt couldn't handle the ball, and Baerga flopped onto the plate to score the Nationals first run. Baerga walked back to the dugout to guffaws from his teammates over his comical display. Loaiza mimed a little imitation of Baerga's running style. HI-larious.

Would you like fries with that?

The Nats finally got a average/mediocre effort from Ryan "I Desperately Need A Nickname" Drese, as opposed to his previous starts of either spectacular or terrible. He took a shutout into the fifth inning, but he walked five batters and danced through trouble all night.

Washington got three more in the third inning, due partially to Robinson Tejada's wildness and partially to another clutch hit from Cepicky. In fact, Cepicky would be the offensive star of the game if it wasn't for the pure shock of 3 RBIs from the Cheeseburglar.

The Nats got a run in the fourth on an RBI single from Guillen. But they failed to score any more, despite having the bases loaded with one out. A few more runs there would have made life easier.

Drese faltered in the fifth, allowing three runs on an Abreu sac fly and a two-run double from rookie Ryan Howard. This was the first inkling the night would be a long one; the Phils were hitting the ball all over the place.

But guess who got those three runs back? Yup, the Cheeseburglar. With Guillen and Carroll on, Baerga deposited a line drive into the petunias in left field. Would you like fries with that, Mister Baerga? 8-3, Nats.

Drese didn't last the sixth inning. Frank yanked him after he allowed a leadoff hit to Todd Pratt. Joey Eischen came in, sucked on it, and he hated it. Our old friend Inning-Endy Chavez tripled in Pratt and scored on a hit by Tomas Perez.

The overworked Ayala came in and allowed Perez to score on a sac fly. 8-6, Nats. With runners on second and third and two outs, rookie Ryan Howard doubled off the wall in center field. Lofton scored easily, but Burrell (who walked earlier in the inning) was gunned out on a perfect relay from Wilkerson by Jamey Carroll. Another beautiful defensive play that saved the game. 8-7, Nats.

It still wasn't easy. Majewski came on in the seventh, but struggled. It took a rundown play between third and home to help him get out of the seventh inning. He was much better in the eighth, though, getting the side in order.

"Chief" came on in the ninth, of course. He made it interesting, of course. Ryan Howard lead off, hitting a high fly ball to center. He thought it was a home run, pumping his fist as he trotted to first. But Wilkerson hauled it in with he back against the centerfield wall. Crisis averted. The next two outs came easier. Chief gets save #31. Nats win.

I really feel the inclination to complain about this one. After all, we led by 5 runs twice and still nearly blew it. But the fact is, we scored eight runs. That doesn't happen often. Drese didn't pitch great, and the bullpen really showed its fatigue. And we still won. Good enough.


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