June 6, 2018: Nats Park

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One of the things I appreciate about the Nats is that over the last few years they have increased the number of mid-week day games (I wish the O’s would do the same). It’s been about a month since I’ve seen the Nats play so a trip to Nats Park to see them play Tampa seemed just the ticket.

Over the years I’ve always wondered by no manager had tried a certain strategy. That was, rather than starting some bottom-of-the-barrel starter, why not start with a relief pitcher. Then every couple of innings swap in a fresh arm. It seemed like an in intriguing strategy. Why hasn’t it been tried?

Well this year Tampa manager Kevin Cash has been giving it a whirl. Johnny Venters , exclusively a reliever, started for Tampa. This was the first start of the lefty’s career. Venters is a pretty decent pitcher so let’s see how it goes. When the game started at 1:05, Johnny was sporting a 0.87 ERA. Twenty minutes later when he departed, it had risen to 5.06 and the Nats had a commanding lead. The interesting thing is that Cash brought in to relive Ryan Yarbrough, who is one of their starting pitchers. He wasn’t great but he did give them 5 plus innings.

Anyway the game was pretty much decided in the first inning and the Nats cruised to an 11-2 win. A few faces on the field who weren’t there back in early May. Relievers Justin Miller, (something) Suero, and old friend firstbasman Mary Reynolds. The big addition however was stud Juan Soto. And while it was just one game, I was impressed. Two hits and a walk. He knows the strike zone. He seems comfortable hitting against lefties. And he has pop in his bat. Not sure about his glove; he wasn’t really tested. We’ll see but for now I suspect they’ll keep playing him.

I can’t let this pass without mentioning that today was the seventy-fourth anniversary of D-Day. The Nats had a number of WWII vets on hand who were recognized. Nicely done, Nats.

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Old vs New

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Photo  one of “old” Yankee Stadium – taken September 13, 1959 by my good friend Ray Dileo.

Photo two of  “new” Yankee Stadium taken on May 28, 2018 by Mary.

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June 2 – A Celebration of Local Authors

At the Great Falls Public Library. This Saturday, June 2 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

GreatFallsLib

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On Location in Gaithersburg

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Mary and I had a delightful time yesterday at the Gaithersburg Book Festival. Made some new friends; reconnected with old ones; sold some books. Many thanks to the good folks of Gaithersburg for pulling it off in the face of some challenging weather.

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Star Wars night at Camden Yards

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Went up to the Yards last night to see the Birds take on Tampa Bay. It was billed as Star Wars night and many in the crowd wore appropriate costumes. Kevin Gausman started for the O’s and was very impressive. Good stuff, good command of the strike zone. Tampa was continually getting men on base but Kevin was tough when it mattered.

Meanwhile Baltimore’s own Jedi, Manny Machado had a night worthy of Anakin Skywalker. A two run home run in the first to give the Birds the lead. Then in the bottom of the 7th, the Orioles get the bases loaded with none out. Tampa brings in a reliever who strikes out Mancini and Jones. It’s all up to Manny. And Manny delivers – a grand slam home run that ices it for the Orioles. A great night for Manny Machado.

Of course in Star Wars, Anakin Skywalker goes over to the Dark side and becomes Darth Vader. Will Manny do the same? There are all those rumors about the Yankees…

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Bottoming out?

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Sometimes you get so deep into a hole that the only place you can look at it up. Perhaps the Orioles have reached that point.

I went up to the Yards last night to see the Birds take on the Kansas City Royals. The Royals are an interesting team, not necessarily good, but interesting. Most of the players in their starting lineup are sporting pretty good batting averages.

Chris Tillman started for the Birds. I have seen a lot of Chris over the years. At his best, he was a borderline All Star, a gutsy performer who never got rattled no matter how tight things became.

Those days have passed. Chris’ velocity, never that high to begin with, is down. And his command of the strike zone seems to have deserted him. Not a good combination.

John Jay leads off for KC. He singles. Wild pitch to second. Then two walks. Then Perez hits a grand slam home run. Birds are down 4-0 with the same scarcely fifteen minutes old. Two more KC runs in the second inning and Chris Tillman is gone. His ERA is now over 10. Last year his ERA was 7.86. I don’t know how much more of this we can take.

The thing is, though – the Birds didn’t quit. They starting hitting. And hit some more. And still more. Fourteen base hits in all. Not one of them was cheap. Several shots into the gap in right-center. And three home runs (Machado, Jones, Mancini). Every player in the lineup had at least one hit, except for the “other Chris.” Chris Davis was 0 for 4 with three stakeouts. I’m not sure what the answer is here.

But let’s stay focused on the positive. Miguel Castro came in and pitched 4 plus innings of solid relief with his 95 plus fastball. He’s so thin, you have to wonder if he has the stamina to be an every-five-day rotation starter. But I do think he has earned the right to be given a shot.

So in the end, what started out as a dreary ’same old, same old’ evening turned out to be a lot of fun. We’ll see if they can keep it up tonight. Through a quirk of my personal scheduling, I’ll be there. O’s vs Tampa (another ‘interesting’ team). And we’re finally getting some good baseball weather. Play Ball!

 

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Coming Soon

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I will be one of the exhibiting authors at the Gaithersburg Book Festival, Saturday May 19. This is the first time I’ve been accepted (I had applied two other years) so it’s sort of a big deal for me.

http://gaithersburgbookfestival.org/

 

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