Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Ah, Sweet Release!

In the 8th inning of yesterday's game, I turned to my friend and commented about how quiet the crowd was. Everyone was sitting on their hands. Unlike earlier games I had been to, it wasn't because of the broiling sun or the wet mask of humidity. It was simply because people in the stands were nervously anticipating the next bad break. Why invest the energy in something you know will fail? They had already twice squandered bases loaded opportunities and were clinging to that one-run lead. All it'd take was the cliched bloop and a blast (which the Marlins did get), and the game would be lost.

But Livan ensured that that was not to be. He went eight scoreless innings before giving up a two runs in the 9th inning. But by then, his clutch RBI single had ignited a four-run rally that blew the game open.

In the bottom of the 8th, with Chad Cordero warming, and a tenuous lead, Frank sent Livan to the plate with two outs and a runner in scoring position. I can't say that I agreed with the decision, but can certainly see the argument for it.

Quickly, there were two strikes. And just as quickly, Livan went with the pitch, lifting a soft flare to the opposite field over the first baseman's head, the way so many other Nationals batters refuse to hit.

Marlon Byrd, who on any other day would be the Majority Whip, followed that up with a bases-clearing double (the best kind of double), and the Nationals cruised.

Livan seemed to be driving off his foot more than he was about a month ago. The frosting injections seem to be working, because he had a little more oomph on his fastball.

  • Cristian Guzman, yes, made a few nice plays in the field. One, on the opposing pitcher, had him run deep into the hole and fire a long, strong, and accurate throw to Wilkerson.

    Each of his throws was on the money, which is a good sign. When things were really going badly, he was just lobbing the ball in the general direction of first base.

    He also clobbered the snot out of a ball that hooked foul down the left-field line. From my seats, I thought he had it, but the liner fell foul.

  • Miguel Cabrera's ninth-inning homer was a beast -- one of the few opposite field homers hit here this season. But he did what batters need to do in that park -- hit low, line drives. Those are the only shots that carry; the wind knocks everything else down.

    Marlon Byrd hit a shot earlier in the game, also to the opposite field. It missed going out by about two feet.

  • Antonio Alfonseca really does have six fingers. My friend and I broke out the binoculars and got to the bottom of the mystery. It's this weird little mini-pinkie right about where you'd expect a sixth finger to be.

    Now if only we could get Linda Cohn to take off her shoes...


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