Try to figure out the game of baseball and it will drive you crazy sometimes.
So, you should enjoy it and wait for those unexpected twists and turns. Tuesday night against the Marlins was just such a time.
I have to admit, while announcing the first seven innings with Josh Johnson dominating the Nats, it was hard to envision a come-from-behind win. Johnson had allowed two harmless first-inning singles and then retired twenty consecutive batters through the seventh.
When Willie Harris broke his bat and dropped a single into right field it was a glimmer of hope. Then the struggling Alberto Gonzalez hit one hard up the middle; Wil Nieves dropped one into right to load the bases and I was wondering, “Where is this inning taking us?”
With Ryan Zimmerman not starting and Harris playing third base, Jim Riggleman really didn’t have a booming left-handed bat with which to pinch-hit, so he called on Ronnie Belliard.
A team needs veteran guys to step up in that situation and Ronnie did!
His double scored two and knocked Johnson out of the game. Nyjer Morgan’s grounder and Cristian Guzman’s single tied it at 4; then Adam Dunn went “oppo” (baseball lingo for opposite field) for a home run and Mike MacDougal got the save and an improbable win for the Nats against their tormentors from Florida.
Prior to that game, the Marlins had scored eight ninth-inning runs at Nationals Park this year and beaten Washington nine straight times. It was a badly needed win (aren’t they all?) and another sign that the club with baseball’s worst record has a lot of heart.
Here is a great stat: over five games from Friday to Tuesday, the Nationals scored 19 runs in the seventh inning and later ... 24 from the sixth inning on! That’s a never-give-up attitude of which we can all be proud. This team will fight to the end, and in the early years of a ballclub, that’s something to build on.
By the way, through Tuesday the Nats were 9-11 with Jim Riggleman as manager, winning seven of their previous 11 games. These last two months might be fun after all!