There are certain times during a baseball season when everything lines up the right way, and when the game is over, you know you’ve been a part of something special.
Saturday night was one of those times.
It was a good omen when we got to the ballpark and the weather was perfect - 72 degrees and clear skies after nothing but clouds and rain for several days.
A good crowd was gathering. Mark Lerner told me the Nats had sold 24,000 tickets for the matchup with the Mets, so the walk-up crowd was over 7,000; and the announced attendance was 31,456. And, wow, was that crowd ever treated to a great game for the home team!
We groaned as John Lannan walked Luis Castillo to lead off the game. But then came the first of five double plays, and before we could blink, the Nats were up 3-0 on a Ryan Zimmerman single and HR #17 for Adam Dunn.
The double plays kept on coming, including one where the batter passed up his baserunner between first and second base, something I had never seen happen in person.
By the seventh-inning stretch, Lannan had faced the minimum of 21 batters, something else I’ve never seen a young Nats pitcher accomplish. He was pitching to contact, and averaged only 10 pitches per inning for those first seven.
By then, Elijah Dukes and red-hot Nick Johnson had put the game away with homers for a 7-0 lead. The only question remaining was, could John Lannan finish what he started? Complete games by young pitchers are so rare these days.
After a rocky eighth and a dropped line drive by Dukes, Lannan came out for the 9th and finished off the Mets.
I remarked on MASN with two outs in the ninth, “This is the game John Lannan has been waiting for his entire life.”
The final score was 7-1 with a game time of 2 hours, 1 minute. I noticed something else in the moments following the last out. The game was so short and well-played, fans weren’t in a hurry to leave. They hung around, soaking in the atmosphere of a perfect baseball evening when the weather was great and so were the Nats.
Now, for many more as summer arrives...