Ok guy (that is, if anyone is still reading), I know we’re behind. I know we’ve been “bad bloggers” this season, but perhaps it’s because there’s other things we’re doing with our time. When you’re watching baseball games every night, it’s hard to concentrate on what’s going on on the TV AND to write a blog post. And then there are the non-baseball things going on in our lives. In any case, Drew and I are still making predictions, and while I haven’t gotten around to rounding up our July predictions (super quick summary: we weren’t quite optimistic enough), we’re going to put in our August predictions before the month gets too far ahead of us. And because we’re going for speed here, there won’t be pictures (at least for a little bit).
Maggie: I’m thinking at least 2. They’re having a crappy year, and showing it, but the Nats do have to face Cliff Lee. (2-1)
Maggie: We’re playing them at home (as opposed to Miami, where they historically cream us), so I’m happy enough to say (3-1)
Maggie: All my past predictions have been so cautious. They have more losses than we do wins. I’ll go with a big series win. (3-1)
Aug 10-12: @ Arizona
Maggie: For whatever reason, the Diamondbacks make me wary. I’ll go with (1-2)
Maggie: This is the right time of year for a late season Mets collapse. (3-0)
Maggie: I think it would be silly to count Atlanta out since they’re the last team other than the Nats that seems to have any spark in the NL East. I’ll say Nats win the series, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Atlanta took it instead. (2-1)
Maggie: A group of Nats fans will be visiting CBP on Saturday night, and I’ve got high hopes they leave happy. I say we sweep the series. (3-0)
Maggie: Visiting Miami has never been the Nats strong suit. Thank goodness it’s only a 2 game series! (1-1)
Maggie: The Cards are one of those more historically (well, recently historically?) dominant teams. I don’t see them fading off into the autumn light. I should end my optimistic month with a won series, but I’ll call it a split. (2-2)
Maggie: a ridiculous 22-10.
So – are we totally nuts for imagining a 22-10 run over the month of August (plus 1 day in July and 2 in September)? Let us know your predictions in the comments!
Time for another prediction post with Drew from Crunching Through My Day. We made predictions for both May and June…so let’s see how things go for the month of July! We’ve both got birthdays at the end of the month, so I know we’d like to see some wins on those days. I’ll present the first half of the month here, and Drew will show us the rest of the month later this week.
7/3-5 vs San Francisco Giants
Drew: Well now, the G-men have really come on lately and taken the NL West by storm. Does this scare me? Yes actually. It does. The Giants just swept the Dodgers (which killed the Nats back in in May.) In many other ways, the Nats and Giants are similar. Their pitching staffs (staves? What’s the rule here?) are about K/9 and HR/9. The Nat’s pitching staff provides a few extra WAR while the Giants offense beats the Nat’s in that category. However, with the heat and a tough road trip against the Braves, plus the bottom half of the Nats rotation coming up, I’m going to say the Giants take 2 of the three games. However, the Nat will win on the 4th of July to support Truth, Justice, and The Natiude Way!
Maggie: There is nothing in this world that makes me sadder than missing the Lincecum-Zimmermann matchup tonight. The game should be epic. Drew has said with stats and whatnot what I see with my eyes: the Giants are a team that is coming on strong in the middle of the summer, and they should be rightly feared. Not enough where I don’t think the Nats will take a game…but appropriately feared. Nats lose the series, 1-2.
Drew: The Nat’s took advantage of the thin air (is the humidor still on?) in Colorado to awaken their anemic offense. I have a feeling that the bats will slow a bit in the warm confines of DC but that the Nats will still beat up on the Rockies. I know the Rockies are probably better than their record indicates but I can’t be much. When Jamie Moyer is your staff ace at the start of the season, there’s not a lot good things I can (besides the 4.11 FIP and .340 opponent BABIP say enough). I’m going to say 2-1.
Maggie: Sure, we split the series with the basement-dwellers, but that was at the end of a long series of road trips and homestands against the toughest divisions (the Easts) in baseball. Can you blame them for “taking a break” and “only” scoring 35 runs during that series? I have a feeling that once the Nats are back in their stadium, with the top of their lineup that the distinction between best and worst in the NL will become quite clear. Nats sweep, 3-0.
Drew: As much as I like the pageantry surrounding the All Star game, I’ve got to admit that the AL is probably going to win this year. They spanked in the NL in interleague play. I want my NL to win but I’m not going to hold out hope.
Maggie: This is another place where I agree with Drew. I love that the Nats have 3 players (maybe 4?) in the fight, but when the AL spanks the NL in interleague play, it doesn’t bode well for a reversal at the All Star game.
7/13-16 @ Miami Marlins
Drew: Miami has been a real disappointment so far. I spent the offseason worried that they might steal the last playoff spot from the Nats. Of course that was before the Phillies free fell into almost nothing. Since then, the Marlins have gotten lucky. They should be about even with Houston and Colorado in terms of wins. Their pitching has been pretty awful, with the lowest K/9 rate and opponents BABIP of nearly .300. Despite that, I don’t think the Nats can sweep this series. Due to the vagaries in the tea leaves and baseball, I’m saying we split the series 2-2
Maggie: More Miami hate from me. Watching them suck it up this year has been nearly as enjoyable as watching the Phillies tank. And because the Nats seem to do well when they play in Florida, I’ll expect them to continue to kick butt and take names in Miami. Nats take it 3-1.
Look for the last half of July later…
So, yesterday we left off in mid-May with the Nats facing the Reds. Fortunately for all of us, there are four more teams that the DC boys of summer will face before we actually head into summer months. And since this May prediction is a co-post with Crunching Through My Day, we’ll let Drew pick up in the middle of the month and let us know how things should turn out for the Nats.
See that post HERE!
I think it’s safe to say that we’re in the doldrums of summer. The weather makes us not want to go outside and the Nats make us want to avert our eyes. Ashley, Maggie, Drew, and Maggie’s sister Meredith took in the game on Tuesday. We were all really excited, because it was the first game we’d seen in weeks. However, the Nats did not put on a grand show for us. We sat in Section 220, so enjoy some views from a new part of the stadium. Here’s a rundown of the lineup:
Bernadina got on base with a walk, and the pitcher tried (unsuccessfully) to pick him off. Center field was fairly quiet all night – only a few balls went his way.
Espinosa didn’t have much luck at the plate, but he started a terrific double play in the 3rd. We were thankful he was able to pull it off, because the next batter up hit a home run.
Zimmerman was excellent on defense. Our favorite play was a run up to grab a bunt in the 7th. Z also scored one of the Nats runs in the 6th.
Morse was a solid presence at 1st, and hit a double in the 6th. We’re glad to see him out on the field.
Oh Jason Werth, this is how we feel about the Nats too. We’re optimistic that things start picking up soon. A dejected Werth had to watch at least 2 home runs sail over his head and two doubles land in the right field corner.
Nix smashed a ball into the stands for a solo homer in the 5th for one of the Nats’ only two runs for the night.
Ramos was solid behind the plate, but all of his at-bats ended in outs. He connected with the ball each time, but never managed to send it past the infield.
Desmond had much the same luck as Ramos, although he did get on base in the 5th (walked). Sadly, he was stranded by his teammates.
As for the bullpen, we got to see Zimmermann, Burnett, and Coffey before we decided that being awake at work the next day was more important than watching the last inning.
Our Founding Fathers were less interested in baseball and more excited about the end to the NFL lockout. They played a little touch football in the outfield, ending when George tackled Teddy and Tom carried the ball to the endzone, ahem, finish line.
We’re keeping our fingers crossed that the Nats get their mojo back. In the meantime, you can view more picture from this game here.
Game: #038 – Nationals vs. Marlins
Starting Pitchers: Tom Gorzelanny (0-2, 3.97) vs. Chris Volstad (2-2, 5.73)
Final Score: Nationals: 5, Marlins: 6
In addition to being another great night at the ballpark, Friday was Stitch & Pitch. This annual event is celebrated at many MLB parks and is put together for needlecraft enthusiasts (knitters, crocheters, etc.) to get together and socialize, shop, and knit while watching the a ballgame. You may not know this about your First Ladies, but both of them enjoy knitting. Maggie and Ashley sat in Section 202 for most of the game and were surrounded by lots of folks with yarn on needles.
What we ate: Maggie had a pretzel dog that was tasty, but not filling enough. She went back for some cheese fries to round out her meal. Ashley tried the Hard Times Chili Mac and was overall disappointed. It was the same toppings as the amazing Hard Times Nachos, but the extra water clinging to the spaghetti made the whole thing drippy and very, very messy. The pasta didn’t really absorb any of the chili flavor either. Next time, Ashley will go back to chips with her chili.
From our Stitch & Pitch seats, we had a great view of the outfield. It was fun to watch Nix and Bernadina were warming up together, especially because it helped limber up Bernadina for his amazing catch later in the game.
Things got a little heated after the umps made a controversial call about a Marlins bunt. Riggleman came out of the dugout and Hairston started waving his finger around. Ultimately, the call stood and the game kept going.
Werth used the break as an opportunity to take a knee in the outfield.
Did we mention that all of that happened before the 4th inning? As is tradition, the President’s wore their Jason masks to race on Friday the 13th. 13 wasn’t a lucky number for Teddy, but Abe pulled out a win.
In the 5th, Coffey was called in to replace Gorzelanny. Coffey’s fun to watch because he’s so enthusiastic. He didn’t just jog in from the bullpen, he dashed!
The 5th inning was also when Bernadina made an amazing flying catch to get the last out of the inning. The ball went back over his head and he jumped up to grab it. He managed to snag the ball in the webbing of his glove, then tumbled head over heels. After landing, he thrust his glove in the air so we could all see that he managed to hang onto the ball. You can see the confirmation of the catch at the top of this post, more of Ashley’s pictures starting here, and the Nat’s provided video here.
After the 6th inning, Maggie moved up to the Upper Gallery to sit with friends and family who were also at the game. It gave a different perspective – both in that there was more of a social focus, and not as much concern for baseball. She even got razzed by her brother for cheering [over]enthusiastically for Drew Storen when he came in to the game. We stayed to the bitter end (11 innings) which had its benefits: Ashley appeared on the big screen during a Random Act of Red, and Maggie got to wander around the desolate nosebleed section and see what the very high views looked like all around the park. And we all sort of felt like this picture of manager Jim Riggleman – there’s only so much you can do in a game. However, even though the Nats lost, it was a great evening full of amazing plays.
(full album from this game can be seen here)
Game: Spring Training #15 – Nationals at Marlins
Pitching this Afternoon for the Nationals: Jordan Zimmermann, Henry Rodriguez, Brian Broderick, Collin Balester, Cole Kimball
Final Score: Nationals – 5, Marlins – 1
Play of the Game: Danny Espinosa made an AMAZING grab on a line drive over 2nd base, and turned around to throw the runner out. It was a really fast and stunning play that just showed Espinosa’s promise as a 2nd baseman.
Player of the Game: Rick Ankiel, for driving in 4 of the Nationals 5 runs. He also played well in both left and center field (which helped allay my fears about having a terrible outfield for the regular season).
- Roger Dean Stadium is a beautiful facility. It plays host to both the Marlins and the Cardinals during Spring Training. There are good views from everywhere, and I felt like I was very close to the players during batting practice. There are even more opportunities for being close to the action with the “Berm” – a grassy seating area that sits right behind the visiting team’s bullpen.
- Others who were there may disagree with me (based on the volume of applause), but I thought the National anthem had too many frills and was too tortured today. You don’t need to sing it straight, but if you’re going to be fancy, make sure you have the vocal chops to back that up.
- Another thing that I loved about Roger Dean Stadium was the multitude of picnicking areas – there were many tables, and even one with a large canopy covering it (highly beneficial for pale people like me who like to stay out of the sun).
- I managed to get a seat behind the Marlin’s bench. This was because I believed that the home team is always on the 1st base side. HOWEVER, because the Cardinals and Marlins share the facility, and because they occasionally play each other, they each have their own designated side, and the Marlins is on the side that I thought was for the visiting team, and the ticket site didn’t indicate which side was home/away. Fortunately, my Nats shirt was gray, and I didn’t really stand out among all the Marlins fans.
- Not once, but twice, I was told that I was the first Nationals fan that someone had ever met. Additionally, when asked about why I was at the game, and where I was from, people seemed surprised that someone would come down to Florida for a long weekend just to watch baseball. I know I’m not the only Nats blogger who is/has been down here this weekend, so maybe most visiting fans aren’t interacting a lot with other teams’ fans?
- Like I mentioned in the player of the game section, the outfield performed MUCH better today, the starters didn’t miss any of the balls hit their way (to the extent that the little Marlins fan near me wondered aloud why his team didn’t catch as many balls as the Nats did). In fact, the entire defense seemed to be playing a charmed game – there was maybe only 1 or 2 missed fielding opportunities.
(the rest of the album from this game can be seen here)
Game: #143 – Nationals vs. Florida Marlins
Starting Pitchers: Jordan Zimmermann (#27, 0-1, 5.29) vs. Chris Volstad (#41, 5-1, 5.53)
Final Score: Nationals: 5, Marlins: 6
Nats New Record: 60-83
Who was there: Ashley and Maggie
Our Records: Ashley – 9-10; Maggie – 10-14
Where did we sit: We started out in Maggie’s season ticket seats, but as the afternoon wore on, things got a little cool and windy. We looked across the stadium, and section 136 was bathed in light and sunshine. Our usher friend Richard had sent an email saying to stop by any time, and so we made our way down after the 7th inning stretch to spend the rest of the game feeling a little warmer.
What did we eat: Wandering around before the game we smelled something delicious, and finally decided it was coming from the Max’s Kosher Grill. Maggie had a falafel, and Ashley had the shawarma, and both were delicious, and very well priced. Ashley especially liked the little pickles, and the cucumber/tomato mix that came with it. Later, Maggie had vanilla soft-serve, and Ashley had a double scoop of chocolate and cookies & cream gelato.
President’s Race: These races aren’t changing much – Teddy leads, Abe comes from behind, and then tonight George took it all. Perhaps the people behind the President’s Race need to change things up a little. Maybe…actually letting Teddy win?
- This is the first time that Ashley or Maggie has had a chance to see Jordan Zimmerman pitch. They had tickets last year to his showdown with Randy Johnson (who would go on to get his 300th win), but that night was a rainout, and they couldn’t attend the make-up day game that happened the next afternoon.
- Sunday was “Kids Run the Show” day. As you can see from the pictures below (and in the rest of the album), they were adorable! That teeny little kid in the first picture threw out the first pitch, Clint and the Nats Pack had little shadows, and a young girl did an amazing rendition of the National Anthem. The stadium announcer also had a friend, and the boy got to read the lineup before the game. He did a great job! We also loved how much time and attention the players spent on the kids in the “starting nine” before the first inning. Having kids on the field before the game isn’t limited to one day a season, but it’s always cool to see the players interacting with them (especially 6’6″ Adam Dunn with the smallest kid on the field, tall socks Nyjer Morgan with a shy looking girl decked out in pink, and Ryan Zimmerman and the umpire with the boy at 3rd base).
- It was a very slow game (despite the cute start), and the Nationals didn’t play spectacularly well, so instead of talking about that – we’ll give you a LOT of pictures.
Edited to add: Correction on the number of games Randy Johnson pitched and an explanation of “Kids Run the Show”.
Game: #141 – Nationals vs. Marlins
Starting Pitchers: John Lannan (#31, 5-4, 4.34) vs. Alex Sanabia (#59, 4-1, 3.83)
Final Score: Nationals: 1, Marlins: 3
Nats New Record: 60-81
Play of the Game: At the top of the ninth, with a Marlin on first, a ball was hit to the far right corner. Maxwell tracked it down, threw it to Danny Espinosa, who rocketed the ball to Pudge who was waiting at home to tag out Logan Morrison who was barreling towards home. He made the play, and for a moment, it didn’t matter that the Nats were about to lose – THAT was baseball. See it happen here.
First Runner-up Play of the Game: Desmond made a throw to Adam Dunn at first base. The throw was a little high, but Adam leapt, and with his tall frame, managed to snag the ball and drop down on the bag a split second before the runner got there. Caught on film by Ashley.
Second Runner-up Play of the Game: In the sixth inning, Nyjer Morgan made an AMAZING diving catch. Seriously – dove to the ground, and did a side-roll with the ball still clutched in his glove. Ashley would have taken a beautiful picture of that moment…if someone hadn’t walked in front of her at that EXACT second. Talk about photographer’s heartbreak! Relive the catch here.
Who was there: Ashley, Maggie, and Maggie’s parents
Our Records: Ashley – 9-9; Maggie – 10-13
Where did we sit: We were in Section 135, fairly low down. These are good seats, but we really preferred being one section over in 136 (or even 137), since you’re closer to the field, and the sight-lines are better for photography.
What did we eat: Ashley tackled the Rough Rider (which was delicious and sloppy, especially since it fell off it’s bone), and Maggie endured the line at Five Guys for a delicious greasy burger and fries.
Promotional Items: Since it was Hispanic Heritage night, members of the Nat Pack, the Racing Presidents, and front office staff could be seen around the stadium handing out the Los Nacionales t-shirt.
President’s Race: Teddy had the lead, with Abe and Tom close behind. It looked like he might actually make it all the way to the finish line, but after turning the corner, he Abe and Tom all stopped to hand out Los Nacionales t-shirts to fans in our area.
- It was Hispanic Heritage night at the Park. We didn’t get there in time for salsa lessons at the Scoreboard Lounge, but we did get there in time to snag free Los Nacionales t-shirts. It was also neat to see the interstitial videos featuring great Hispanic players, narrated en Español.
- Maggie was really disappointed that she didn’t have the chance to video José Ortega, Washington National Opera tenor, sing the National Anthem. He has been one of the most impressive anthem singers of the season so far.
- A guy in our section was wearing a Nationals red sombrero (featuring a curly W), shaking maracas to pump up the crowd. He was filmed as a possible fan-of-the-game, but disappointingly did not make it to NatsHD.
- It was a beautiful night at Nationals Park, with fireworks to follow, but the park seemed half empty. COME ON PEOPLE. It’s major league baseball. Tickets are cheap. If you get there before first pitch, there are $5 beers, which is a pretty good happy hour deal. The team, while not the best, is exciting to watch, and makes great plays while usually keeping things close. Get out here and support the team you wanted so desperately!
Game: #029 – Nationals vs. Marlins
Starting Pitchers: Craig Stammen, (#35,1-1 , 5.63) vs. Chris Volstad, (#41, 3-2, 4.12)
Final Score: Nationals: 2, Marlins: 4
Nats New Record: 15-14
Plays and Player of the Game: Willie Harris made two spectacular diving catches in both right and left fields.
Favorite Non-baseball Moment: The first #NatsTweetup of the year! (more on that below)
Who was there: Ashley and Maggie (aka @tehbee and @darastar)
Our Records: Ashley – 3-4; Maggie – 2-5
Where did we sit: We were in section 241 with the rest of the #NatsTweetup members. Our seats were directly underneath the scoreboard (which was kind of frustrating at times), but the view was great, and the Scoreboard Pavilion was right behind us.
What did we eat: The other advantage of the seats near the Scoreboard Pavilion is the fact that Five Guys is right there. Ashley and Maggie both had burgers, and split an order of fries with malt vinegar (because one order really is enough for two people). Both the burgers and fries were deliciously greasy as can be expected from any Five Guys.
Promotional Items: A cooler bag – it’s a nearly lunch-bag sized, but has a large curly-W on the front with a Miller Light logo on top.
President’s Race: It looked like a regular blow-out by George, but as the trailing three presidents turned the right field corner, Tom decided that even if he lost, he had to knock Teddy over. So he did. Shocking!
- More on the tweetup: we met up with the other tweeters (twitterers?) in the Scoreboard Lounge area, watched the band for the evening (Dr Fu – who were great), and waited for prize drawings once everyone was there. Neither Ashley nor Maggie won any of the prizes, but it was fun to meet with other people who care about the Nationals and enjoy the social networking aspect.
- It’s hard to watch the game when there’s so much else going on. We had some kind of team sitting near us that were doing lots of singing and dancing with and without their shirts, the Donkeys made and appearance, and in general it was a loud, fun evening.