Game Seven: The Play That Likely Swung the Game to the Giants

In the 3rd or 4th inning, with a KC runner on first and nobody out, Eric Hosmer poked a hard-hit grounder up the middle, looking like it would go through to center field.  Out of nowhere Panik (the Giant’s second-baseman) dove and just managed to catch the ball in the tip of his glove.  Somehow he managed to flip the ball, back-handed, to his shortstop Brandon Crawford who was at second base, getting the runner out there!  Crawford then fired the ball to first base.  But, the runner was called safe on a very close play.  The Giants elected to challenge that call, and after a very long delay while officials in NYC studied all the videos, the call was over-turned and the runner at first was called out!  So the Royals, who could have had runners on first and third with NO OUTS, ended up with NO RUNNERS on base and two out!

Had Panik not caught that grounder, there was a high likelihood of the Royals scoring at least one run and maybe more, giving them a lead.  Their great bullpen would have then soon entered the game with either a lead or a tie.  Over the last 5 innings of the game BOTH bullpens (not just MadBum) put nothing but zeroes on the scoreboard!

That is how close the 7th game really was folks!

Post-Season Thoughts

The 2012 Nats playoff performance was way better than that of the 2014 Nats!  The players who performed up to their ability this time were few: Harper, Rendon, Strass, JZimm, Fister, Cabrera, Blevins and —are you ready—-Soriano.  8 out of 25.  Maybe we should bring Davey Johnson back.  The Giants didn’t play much better than the Nats either.

Matt Williams cost them game 2, by removing JZimm when he was one out away from a victory!  And bad defence played a major role in the losses of games 1 and 4.  But the biggest problem was the near lack of any offense.. And most of the Nats played with little EMOTION!  They often looked like robots.  Maybe that is partly a reflection of William’s managerial style; he rarely shows ANY emotion.  He tried explaining why he took JZimm out in the 9th inning of game 2 by saying that was his game plan he put together before the game even started!  One wonders if he has any “feel” for how the game is flowing or how his players are feeling.  JZimm had thrown 8 and 2/3 innings of a three-hit shutout and was looking strongly in control of what he was doing!

Nope, the Nats/Giants playoffs were not fun to watch.  I find myself looking forward to watching the Orioles/Royals playoff series.  Both teams are playing exciting baseball as if they really want to get to the World Series.

The Starting Rotation

The Nats have not yet announced their starting ratation for the first round, beginning tomorrow.  But I will tell you what I’d do if I were Matt Williams:  Zimmermann, Fister, Strassburg, Gio Gonzales.  I say that having considered the most important factors such as “stuff,” heart, mind, body and recent outings of the past six weeks or so, plus the now knowing who the opponent is—The Giants:)

Strasburg’s “Achilles Heel”

I’ve mentioned this before, but we continue to see how Stephen Strasburg can become rattled and loose his focus when events occur during games (errors by his teammates for example, or a plate umpire with a strike zone not to Stephen’s liking).  Last night in the 3rd inning Jason Werth dropped a routine fly ball in foul territory that would have been the third out.  Right after that Stephen threw a fastball right across the middle of home plate to a good hitter, Marlon Byrd, who hit it for a 3-run homer.

Those were the only runs Strasburg gave up in his 6 or 7 inning stint, so he was able to settle himself down after the home run.  My point is these episodes seem to affect Stephen’s pitching more than they do most pitchers.  I’m sure the Nats coachs are trying to work with him to increase his ability to stay focused on “grinding” through opposing team’s lineups while tuning out adverse events that are not under Stephen’s control.

Interesting footnotes:

1.  Former Nat (a very popular one!) Mikey Morse (“The Beast”) hit the game winning home run as the Giants beat our nemesis, the Atlanta Braves.  That was the Braves 4th straight loss!

2.  Another former Nat, Steve Lombardozzi, hitting .292 for the Orioles was sent down to AAA in order to make room for star third baseman Manny Machado as he came back from injury to play yesterday for the first time in 2014.  There were other Orioles that in my opinion should have been sent down instead of Lombo.  Note to Mike Rizzo: Get Lombo BACK!