Coming to you from Colorado, where the Nats looked great in game one Monday but not great in game two Tuesday.
The flight from DC to Denver was a pleasant one Sunday night, as the Nationals had just swept a 3-game series at home for the first time this year. That series against the Reds was an eye opener for all of us. Who could have anticipated the energy and spark that Emilio Bonafacio and Alberto Gonzalez would bring to the team after their callups Friday?
Getting on base, using their speed, scoring runs and playing solid defense were all a part of the display put on by these two youngsters over the weekend, and it was a breath of fresh air for all of us who had watched the Nats struggle all year. Baseball is a beautiful game when it's being played the right way, and the sweep of Cincinnati was a thing of beauty.
I love Denver, with the mountains nearby and a break from the summer heat, though Monday it was a bit steamy here. Tim Redding pitched well enough to win, the kids did it again and the Nats made it four straight.
Don Sutton made an interesting point about Jesus Flores during the telecast--he missed a slider for strike one, then on the next pitch, hit the same offering from Aaron Cook out of the ballpark. I asked Manny Acta about that Tuesday, and he said that Flores is really maturing as a hitter and that even the coaches forget that the kid is 23.
The Nats beat Cook, one of baseball's best pitchers this year, to get the road trip off to a good start.
Tuesday wasn't as pleasant, as the bullpen had a bad 8th inning and the Rockies evened the series. John Lannan pitched very well until the last out of the 7th.
Here's where baseball gets interesting ... because the Rockies have an 8-man bullpen due to the offensive nature of Coors Field, they have a short bench; thus, they didn't have a right-handed batter to use as a pinch-hitter for the pitcher.
They did have Catcher Yorvit Torrealba, but managers are reluctant to use their last catcher in case of extra innings. So Clint Hurdle sent up rookie and lefty hitter Ian Stewart, and he promptly homered to tie the game.
The way John was throwing against the Rockies' right-handers, it was too bad he didn't get to face one. Baseball is full of quirks, and most managers wouldn't want a lefty-lefty matchup at that stage of a game, but Hurdle didn't have a righty.
On a personal note, I want all of our MASN viewers and Nats fans to know how pleased I am that my contract option was picked up for the 2009 season. The deadline was Friday August 1st at midnight, and I went on the air Friday night not knowing if I had a job for next year or not. After the game, a fun Nats win over the Reds, I had an email to call Chris Glass, our Executive Producer, and he gave me the good news. I had a congratulatory phone message from my agent Alan Sanders from 8:30 p.m., so he found out two hours before I did.
After the fans rallied for me last fall to continue on with the Nats, I just want you all to know that I'll continue to give my best every night, and hopefully we'll all get to watch many more wins in the near future. I truly believe that with Don Sutton, Debbi Taylor and myself, we have one of Major League Baseball's best broadcasting teams. We all love and respect the game and look forward to going to the ballpark every day, no matter our team record, to bring Nats baseball to you.