This is more like it.
After a recent three game skid in Colorado, I (as well as most Braves fans) was ready for something good to happen. And we got it tonight, April 11th, in our nation’s capitol.
The last time we played here, opening the National’s new park on March 30th, we were robbed by a walk-off homer in the 9th. But tonight, Tim Hudson was almost hitless in 8 solid innings. Actually, he wasn’t-he gave up three hits, but let’s not split hairs.
His placement was extraordinary. The ball seemed to obey his every thought. I re-watched some of the pitches in slow-mo and it was uncanny at times the movement the ball had. You know you are doing it right when you retire a side twice throwing nine pitches.
Did it smell a little special at the beginning of the game? Like maybe something good was in the oven? Maybe so, or maybe it’s my optimism. But the Braves’ alternate road jerseys were on (by Hudson’s choosing, evidently) and it seemed like our team was feeling refreshed by an extra day of rest. Plus the fact that D.C.’s 73° was almost balmy considering Colorado’s unfriendly climate.
Now the Nats are nothing to sneeze at, despite the fact that their pitching is ranked 14th in the National League. We all know baseball is a sport that any given night, the worst team can beat the best team. Yes, the Braves look better on paper than the Nats, but with some of our players yet to find their offensive legs (Tex? Francoeur?), and a bullpen that has yet to not give me heartburn, this game was still something to be taken seriously.
And, sure, Hudson dominated, but so did the Nationals Matt Chico. In fact, he didn’t give up an earned run until the 6th inning, off of Yunel Escobar’s solo homer. Really, either the Braves’ offense was asleep at the wheel, or Chico had our number.
And Matty Diaz looked like he was headed into a terrible night, what with two strike-outs and hitting into a double play. But it was his two-run RBI in the top of the 9th that gave Hudson some much desired breathing room.
By this time (the 9th) sidewinder artist Peter Moylan came in to close the door on the still run-less Nationals. But you’re thinking-Hey, Moylan’s not the closer! What are we paying Rafael Soriano for? Well, if you’re not thinking that, you should. That guy is freaking expensive and we have barely started this season.
But Soriano is on the DL and Moylan is the semi-closer. This made me nervous as a cat around a bunch of rocking chairs (get it? The whole fear of the cat getting his tail caught under one of the rockers?). But Moylan not only slammed the door closed, I’m afraid it broke off its hinges and shattered.
Totally freakin’ unbelievable lights out! If you are standing at the plate, you are thinking Holy cow, Batman, I’m supposed to hit that?!
The Nats looked like Colonel Steve Austin the first time he saw Bionic BigfootTM. The brain could not comprehend the info sent by the eyes. I’ve never seen Moylan slam it like that, striking out two of the perplexed batters. Oh, and most folks don’t think a sidearmer can bring the heat. But some of his stuff was piercing the air at 96 mph.
So, yeah. It’s in the book. We’ll take it.
And we’d like another couple just like it. Please.
Smitty’s Random Notes:
(A stream of consciousness recall of unrelated observations for the short-of-attention span)
» Was the Braves infield pretty freakin’ flawless tonight? Chipper, Escobar, KJ, and Tex were artists on the canvas of the infield.
» Sure. I can see why the Nat’s manager, Manny Acta, wanted to put a “hot” closer in at the top of the 9th. Even though Chico had pitched an unbelievable 8 innings, common wisdom says take out your starter and get your “hot” closer to slam the door. What did the “hot” (and by “hot,” I mean “crappy”) closer Jon Rauch do for his team? He promptly loaded the bases with no outs and then gave up two runs. Thanks, Rauch. I think they need a new batboy on the team. Seriously, stop crying. I’m sure your mother still loves you. Probably.
» Come on, KJ. We love you and everything. We just need you to get on base more than once a game.
» What’d you say?! KotSAY!!! Check out his defensive play tonight. Hey, Marky? What are you doing in 2009? Do you smell what the Smitty is cooking? (Sorry, Rock.)
» Hey, Escobar. Please make yourself comfortable.
Tags: Matt Chico, Peter Moylan, Tim Hudson, Washington Nationals
Posted in Game Analysis | 3 Comments »