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A 30-something living in the foothills of the Virginia mountains; I'm saved by grace, addicted to coffee and my little sister is my best friend! I devote most of my time to exploring, reading, attending as many Nationals games as possible and documenting life here. My Prince Charming got lost somewhere along the way...but I'm trying to remain hopeful that true love exists.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Eighth Inning Bomb

Oh my Nationals - they've been giving me some fits recently...making me hold my breath and wonder what they were doing. Friday night's game was no exception; it started out so promising and progressed really nicely, everything was going so well...and then the Eighth Inning happened.

Yes - it has to be capitalized because it was that bad. However, I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me backtrack.

I wonder if you could DIY one of these bad boys for a nursery one day? Am I aiming too high??

Supper on the field - nothing like dodging balls while you wait for your food, ha!
I purchased tickets to this game for two reasons (besides it being a Washington Nationals game - that alone is reason enough) and they were fireworks after the game (which played a big factor for my Mom, ha-ha) and they were playing the Colorado Rockies. I like to go to match ups between the Nationals and teams I've not seen them play...plus, the Rockies are last place in their division. I won't even get started on that last aspect quite yet...blegh.

Max - stop fraternizing with the enemy....

Not a bad view of the field from the dinner table, right?
Nationals Park is (so far as I can tell...) one of a few major league ball parks to have a restaurant situated near Center Field and on Friday night we wanted to be sure to get into DC and get to the ball park in time to secure a table. I guess because we arrived shortly after 5:30 and a lot of people were just getting away from their offices, it wasn't a problem - we walked right in and took a seat. The food was good; pretty typical ball park fare, although they do offer salads. They also offer something called The Homewrecker...which my Dad ordered by telling our waitress he wanted to be a homewrecker. *face palm* I'm pretty sure she thought he was nuts, but it may not have been the first time she'd heard that, since she knew exactly what he meant.

Pennants from the past, hanging inside the Red Porch.

I'm 100% in my happy place - also, that green directly behind my head is the longest point in the park. Homers hit there are flying!

Posing for a quick picture - but don't take your eyes off the field for too long.
The one interesting thing about dining at the Red Porch (besides the price of the food - yikes!) is that you can't really get too involved in deep conversation or really get distracted at all... While we were waiting on our food and eating, the Rockies were taking batting practice and more than once (more than five or six times...) a ball was smashed and came soaring out...out...out...and bounced into someone's waiting glove, or off their table. I didn't see anyone's food get pounded by an errant baseball but I'm sure it's happened. It was definitely fun to watch the baseball soar through the air and try to guess which table it was headed for...and if that table's occupants were paying any attention the the missile headed in their direction.

Dad with his supper - The Homewrecker!

Such a glare-y picture; above the Red Porch it say "Home of the 2018 All Star Game"
Once we'd sufficiently stuffed ourselves with ball park goodness (I really didn't eat that much, I swear - that just seemed like a good way to word things...) we made our way around the stadium to our seats in right field. I bought these tickets and I am not ashamed to admit that the purchase of tickets in right field was motivated by one thing and one thing only - Bryce Harper plays right field. We were only about ten rows back from the field and so the views were pretty great...although I think I'll be taking my actual camera to the next game just to see how it compares with my iPhone camera. I mean - it might even allow me to zoom in so close I can see the stubble on the player's faces. Doubt it, ha-ha!

Getting ready to play ball! Harper on the right, dancing around...Robinson talking to one of the base coaches.

Forget me - check out the guy to my right in full American flag regalia. He was hilarious! 

The boys chatting pre-game: Danny Espinosa at left, Clint Robinson in the middle (25) and Michael A. Taylor about to run out of frame.
The first thing I noticed when we arrived at our seats was the guy seated a few rows in front of us in full on American flag regalia. Seriously - his pants looked like an American flag, he had on a stars and stripes "robe" over his Harper t-shirt and he even had a silver bedazzled glove on his right hand. I had to give the man some serious props - he has obviously been to numerous games; he seemed to know every song the minute it came on the jumbotron and he even had moves to go along with the songs. My Mom and I were cracking up! We arrived at our seats about fifteen minutes before the game started and so it wasn't long before things were really starting to happen...and the next thing you know, the National Anthem had been sung, Zimmermann and Ramos had walked past to take their spots and it was time to play ball!

Hey...weren't we just over there?

Jordan Zimmermann (the pitcher) and Wilson Ramos (the catcher) taking the field with Steve McCatty (pitching coach).

A little pre-game ball toss session; I couldn't see who Harp was tossing to...
The game started out well enough - Zimmermann was pitching well and while the Nationals bats weren't on fire or anything, they were hitting well. Danny Espinosa managed to snag our first run by speeding around first and second, moving right on to third on a grounder; Harper then brought Danny home with a sacrifice ground out. The crowd on Friday night was really good and everyone was so into the game - chanting and clapping and cheering for the team. We had every reason to cheer; sure the last couple games have been rough but we'd soundly beaten the Diamondbacks the night before, we were playing the Rockies and that seemed like a definite win...and the Mets (at this point) were losing.

Play ball!

Waving caps in honor of military service men & women...

All 6 Racing Presidents in one (very blurry) frame!

Just wandering around...Teddy is seriously so goofy looking. Oh wait, they all are.
The fourth inning was a good one for the Nationals - we scored another run when Bryce Harper singled and then took off like a shot when Ryan Zimmerman smacked a double; Harper's helmet flew off and he just kept running for home, never looking back. My Dad commented on the scoring run by looking at me and saying "that boy can book..." And so I've included a video below of that aforementioned boy that can book. Ha-ha! The fifth inning also put numbers on the score board for the Nationals - Espinosa reached and managed an infield single, Harper moved the line ahead with a walk (no. 80 - he leads in the National League) and Zimmerman continued to move the boys around the bases with another single. Jayson Werth brought Espinosa home with a sacrifice fly and Ian Desmond followed that with a single the brought Harper across home plate and made the score 4-0.


I'll now leave you with a photo break...because I took quite a few...ha-ha! 

Ian Desmond at the plate, about to bring Harper home on a single that was scorching.

Harper in right field - also, the ball park on a Friday night; no better place to be.

I may or may not have a favorite right fielder...

Harper waiting on first for Ryan Zimmerman to send him home...

The pitch is away...Harper is ready to run...
The Rockies scored a run somewhere along the way; I honestly wasn't too concerned with the Rockies, we were ahead and when my Mom mentioned how awesome the fireworks would be "if" the Nationals won, I corrected her and said the fireworks would be awesome when the Nationals won. It was the middle of the seventh and we were ahead 4-1...what could possibly go wrong? Famous last words. Casey Janssen came in with runners on and two outs in the seventh and with one pitch was able to get the third out with a fly out to center field - it was pretty. Zimmermann has pitched well and only allowed one run for almost a full seven innings...and surely he was leaving the game safe and secure in the hands of Casey and Drew Storen. Surely...

Casey Janssen comes in 2/3 of the way through the 7th...and got that last out in one pitch!

Calvin doing a dance on the first base line.
Drew Storen ran across the field and past our seats at the top of the 8th inning - the song "God's Gonna Cut You Down" echoing across the field as his walk-up music. Everyone cheered his name: DDDRRREEEWWW...and it sounded a whole lot like boo...which should have been an eerie bit of foreshadowing. Drew is our closer; Nationals fans have been rallying around him in recent weeks since he was a bit displaced by the acquirement of Jonathan Papelbon (thus far I can't say much about him except that he played at Mississippi State...so Go Dawgs!)but he's been pitching the 8th and doing well. Unfortunately you can't always be on - and Friday night, Drew was NOT on. He allowed a single for the first at bat, walked the second at bat and allowed a second single to load the bases - and then Carlos Gonzalez stepped up to bat. I still cannot understand why Matt Williams (Nationals manager); knowing Storen struggles against left handers, didn't reach into the bullpen for anyone else and get us out of this jam...but he didn't. 

Carlos Gonzalez smashed a ball into the stands - a grand slam to be sure, but only grand if you were cheering for the Rockies. A large portion of the stadium gasped in horror as the ball left the field and the score board ticked from 4-1....to 5-4. We managed to get out of the top of the 8th without any more runs, but the damage was already done and in the bottom of the 8th and the bottom of the 9th we couldn't manage to recover. As we trooped out of the stands to move into place for the fireworks, a Nationals stadium employee sighed and said "that was a heartbreaking loss" and I looked at her and agreed wholeheartedly that "yes ma'am, it certainly was."

Gathered with all the other sad fans to await the Freedom Fireworks.

Exploding over Nationals Park!

It was a pretty impressive fireworks show....
The Freedom Fireworks at the end of the game were meant to be a celebration of what I'm sure everyone had assumed would be an easy win for the Nationals - and while the fireworks were glorious, they sure would have had a little more pop if they'd followed a Curly W. The fireworks burst and sprayed out over the stands for almost fifteen minutes and were a lovely cap to the night. After all is said and done, my Fourth of July fireworks weren't anything to write home about, so these fireworks were certainly nice to see.

Up...up...and away the fireworks go...into the night.

BOOM!

If only they'd been celebratory fireworks...
All in all - another excellent visit to Nationals Park; if only the score had been a bit different. I know...I know, the last time I recapped a visit to Nationals Park I was saying the exact same thing - and what's your point? Are the Nationals struggling right now? Sure, they definitely are. This year hasn't quite been the banner year that anyone expected...between the injuries and the less stellar than advertised pitching rotation - but as I've always been told: You can't call yourself a fan if you give up when the going gets tough. So, press on we shall - there are still 51 games to go and a little faith can go a long way.

Heading out of DC after a heartbreaking defeat...

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