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A Signing And A Delay

[UPDATE] --10:40 start time. Also, no fireworks.

[UPDATE, 10:07 p.m.] -- Still no word on a time for resuming this, but it seems clear we'll get some late-night baseball. The tarp is in the process of coming off. The rain is either down to a drizzle, or entirely gone. (It's hard to tell from the press box.) Either way -- let's resume!

[UPDATE, 9:20 p.m.] - There's still no word if this game will resume tonight. If anybody gave word, we couldn't hear it anyway; the rain is coming down that hard. Honestly, this is one of the hardest downpours I've ever seen. For a minute there, the sky was almost blinding whiteness. I'm not sure if the swirls actually had the force to actually lift human beings airborn, but it was close.

At this point, if we resume this game, you'd have to imagine Shairon Martis's evening is done.

When we get word of a resumption/cancellation, I'll post.


Seeking to add a left-handed pitcher to their Class AAA team, the Nationals have signed Ron Villone, 39, to a minor league deal. Villone will report to Syracuse, which currently has nothing but righty arms amomg both its starting staff and its bullpen. Villone also functions as insurance in case one of the team's current left-handed relievers -- especially Mike Hinckley or Wil Ledezma -- falters.

Villone, a veteran of 14 seasons, has pitched primarily as a reliever in the big leagues, compiling a 56-69 record and a 4.75 ERA. Last year, he appeared in 74 games for the Cardinals, with a 4.68 ERA, but he walked 37 in 50 innings. This spring, Villone was in camp with the Mets, but was released in the last week of March.


Now, the game - at 8:36, after 20 minutes of steady but manageable rain, the skies opened up. Right now, it's coming down in sheets; we even had a few seconds of hail. The Nats trail 3-1, and basically, the difference so far has been the teams' respective ability to capitalize with runners on.

In the top of the third, the Nats, having already scored once (on a Ryan Zimmerman double) had the bases loaded with one out. But Nick Johnson and Elijah Dukes struck out back-to-back against Derek Lowe.

In the bottom of that frame, the Braves got a lead-off hit from Jordan Schafer -- Shairon Martis has allowed the lead-off man on in every inning -- and then a sacrifice bunt from Lowe. Then, Martis got wild. He threw six balls in a row. And with the count 2-0 on Yunel Escobar, Randy St. Claire visited the mound.

Next pitch: Crack! Escobar took a Martis mistake, a fastball down the middle, and drove it over the left-center wall for a 3-run homer.

By Chico Harlan  |  April 10, 2009; 8:45 PM ET
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Next: After The Rain Delay


Chico, there seems to be some disagreement among the two Nationals broadcast teams. Was Zimmerman's double a ground rule double or not?

Posted by: nunof1 | April 10, 2009 8:48 PM | Report abuse

Eddie Armstrong is........

Posted by: theredskin | April 10, 2009 8:57 PM | Report abuse

It wasn't a ground-rule double (unless the umpires really botched it). The ball bounced on the track, off the scoreboard, and into the right fielder's hand.

I think the runners reacted oddly because it was difficult to pick up the ball in the lights of the scoreboard.

Milledge was stuck because the right fielder misplayed it -- it should have been caught, but for reason he didn't go all the way back to the wall and instead stopped short and stabbed at it.

Posted by: joebleux | April 10, 2009 9:03 PM | Report abuse

Not to mention that, as AlexL925 points out in the previous entry, Milledge scores from second if it's a ground-rule double.

Posted by: joebleux | April 10, 2009 9:11 PM | Report abuse

Thrilledge runs the bases like Helen Keller on crack. Always has; always will. He's playing his way right to SYR...

Posted by: jdschulz50 | April 10, 2009 9:20 PM | Report abuse

What people are saying about Milledge being stuck at second makes sense to me. Carpenter clearly blew the ground rule double call (what a surprise, right?) but I bet Charlie and Dave weren't coming down as hard on Milledge as all his non-fans here would have us believe. They probably said "he could have scored" not "he SHOULD have scored."

Posted by: nunof1 | April 10, 2009 9:21 PM | Report abuse

joebleux reports correctly w/r/t the zimmerman double and the milledge base-running. you can't blame milledge here for not scoring. he had to hold up. francoeur should had made the catch, most likely. he went back, bracing for the wall, and extended a hand... but he was still 4-5 feet away from the wall. a total misjudgment.

Posted by: chicoharlan | April 10, 2009 9:24 PM | Report abuse

chico, fair enough

Posted by: malcolmyoung1 | April 10, 2009 9:25 PM | Report abuse

someone tell me when the rain delays over, I am watching godfather II now.


Posted by: malcolmyoung1 | April 10, 2009 9:26 PM | Report abuse

Chico, Dave O'Brien is reporting it is raining harder than it ever has in the history of mankind-think they'll call the game?

Posted by: skippy1999 | April 10, 2009 9:27 PM | Report abuse

Charlie and Dave flat blasted him for not scoring. They didn't even say that he should have scored but that in that situation he had to score. They called it fundamental base running and said it was something he shouldn't have to learn at the major league level. It came up repeatedly in the inning as the Nats failed to score again.

Posted by: RicketyCricket | April 10, 2009 9:43 PM | Report abuse


Bonifacio 2-4
Line drive and bunt single
Scored twice.
Advanced on a balk.

Posted by: nova_g_man | April 10, 2009 9:59 PM | Report abuse

rickety, thanks for that.

the ball was way out there. might have gone out. then hit the scoreboard.

he ended up on third, and I though, "huh?"

if he had hung back a tiny bit, tagged up, then ran, could have made it.

what would emilio have been able to do? score easily on that.

i didnt see it, so he prolly went too far, then had to go back to second, and...


Posted by: malcolmyoung1 | April 10, 2009 10:02 PM | Report abuse

now completed Godfather II disc 2. getting ready to start on disc 1.

tell me when the raid delay is over!


Posted by: malcolmyoung1 | April 10, 2009 10:04 PM | Report abuse

Chico, Come On....learn some baseball. You go half way on a ball hit over the Right fielders head and all the way to the wall on a line like that. STOP MAKING EXCUSES FOR MILLEDGE!

Charlie and Dave are correct. AAA is where he needs to learn the game. He is a disaster every night! We have better players on the Bench and in AAA right now. He is killing this team.

Posted by: JayBeee | April 10, 2009 10:06 PM | Report abuse

aside question:

watching dave trembley post-game interview now.

last year, there was one game, where he went off the rails, smoking a cigar and laughing, totally bizarre interview.

i have been looking for a youtube of that trembley interview ever since.

anyone know, or seen it?

Posted by: malcolmyoung1 | April 10, 2009 10:08 PM | Report abuse

Shawn Hill retired the side in order in the first, with one K.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | April 10, 2009 10:13 PM | Report abuse

Hill has a 3-0 lead bottom first.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | April 10, 2009 10:23 PM | Report abuse

MASN replayed the Francouer play in the field, but never showed Milledge running the bases. (Second isolation cam for MASN? You gotta be kidding.) The Francouer play was as Chico described it. It was unclear until the last second whether he would catch the ball, play it off the wall or if it might even go out. Dibble commented on how poorly Francouer played a ball on the warning track in his home park. It is very easy to see how any runner at second would have played it conservatively or even uncertainly. I would guess that Charlie and Dave were watching Milledge rather than following the ball (being at the game, they have the luxury of doing that) and didn't realize how confusingly Francouer had played it. They probably assumed he had telegraphed his intentions as to whether or not he'd catch the ball, but he didn't. If he had made it clear that he was going to catch the ball or let it drop, Milledge would have known what he needed to do at second. Not that he necessarily would have done the right thing - we'll never know, will we? I'm inclined to give Milledge the benefit of the doubt on this one. Maybe he could have scored, but there's no reason to say he SHOULD have.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 10, 2009 10:26 PM | Report abuse

"now completed Godfather II disc 2. getting ready to start on disc 1."

You doing the Benjamin Button version?

Posted by: nunof1 | April 10, 2009 10:27 PM | Report abuse

There is no question that Dave and Charlie were blasting Milledge for the remainder of that inning and beyond. Charlie even said "What was he thinking?!" at one point and I was expecting him to add "Where was he going?? What was he looking at??" They argued that, given how far it was hit, Milledge should have gone at least half-way to third... in the event of a catch, he would have had plenty of time to get back to second, and if not, as happened, he would have--SHOULD HAVE--scored. They said he was "again" failing at base-running fundamentals. I was obviously listening on the radio and not watching with my own eyes, but I trust their combined judgment a million times more than Bob Carpenter. What's this about a ground-rule double?? How is that even possible given that Milledge was ON second. If a GRD, he would have... umm... scored automatically (duh) and base-running would not have been an issue. WTF? Why the debate about the known facts of what happened?

Anyway, maybe the rain delay will interrupt the unfortunate, and familiar, direction this game was heading. Let's get some runs!

Posted by: JennX_ | April 10, 2009 10:30 PM | Report abuse

Wrong again....going half way is the right thing when "It was unclear until the last second whether he would catch the ball"....I know you always like to take the opposite of what I or anyone else say but at least try to do it on plays that are not as cut and dry as this......If you think Chico's baseball knowledge is backing you up.....your right!

Posted by: JayBeee | April 10, 2009 10:31 PM | Report abuse

Even the Giants announcers are praising Shawn Hill tonight - who is clearly 100% healthy and looking stellar. As happy as I am to see a professional athlete as classy as Shawn perform to this level (which is not the least bit surprising) it saddens and infuriates me even more that Mike Rizzo was allowed to make such an AWFUL (and that's being kind) personnel decision. FYI, Mr. Interim GM, you don't release a quality major league starter because you THINK he MIGHT get injured again sometime in the future. Using that logic he should have released Zimmerman and Dunn too because they COULD suffer an injury someday.

Kudos to Shawn for proving once again how incompetent the management of this franchise is. After patiently waiting 33 years for a team to return it saddens me more than words can express to see such boneheaded moves by the "executives" who are being permitted to do this to the loyal fan base. Shawn would clearly be the ACE of this staff and we RELEASE him over a few hundred thousand dollars. *sigh*

If our starting pitching was decent the release of Shawn would have been a bad move but given the quality and youth of our rotation the releasing Hill was absolutely inexcusable and will go down as one of the worst movs in Nats history.

Posted by: uscnatsfan | April 10, 2009 10:40 PM | Report abuse

Huge break for the Nats to have Lowe out of the game. Let's hope they make the best of it.

Posted by: joebleux | April 10, 2009 10:40 PM | Report abuse

But Lowe tried to do us a favor by hitting Milledge. But, alas, Milledge is still in there, however - on the bright side - he finally got a hit!

Posted by: BGinVA | April 10, 2009 10:44 PM | Report abuse

We left the bases loaded AGAIN. No one can say we haven't had chances to score. Oh, and in Florida, Emilio Bonifacio just scored the winning run in the bottom of the 9th...

Posted by: BGinVA | April 10, 2009 10:46 PM | Report abuse

nunof1: no! no bejamin nonsense that i have not seen. started with disc 2 to get some serious dialogue nonsense, before backtracking then having to skip over the early sicily and ellis island scenes.

it has worked!

but now I can't turn off disc 1 to see if the game has resumed.

please inform1

Posted by: malcolmyoung1 | April 10, 2009 10:49 PM | Report abuse

its on. start rockin.

Posted by: malcolmyoung1 | April 10, 2009 10:52 PM | Report abuse

boni scored nine times, hanley knocked in eight.

Posted by: nova_g_man | April 10, 2009 10:52 PM | Report abuse

Jaybeee, did you see the whole play? No. Did I see the whole play? No. Opinions of those who were there and did see it are mixed. Get off your high horse. You don't know anything more here than me or anyone else.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 10, 2009 10:54 PM | Report abuse

jaybee is right on this: Wrong again....going half way is the right thing when "It was unclear until the last second whether he would catch the ball"

Posted by: malcolmyoung1 | April 10, 2009 10:54 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: JayBeee | April 10, 2009 10:55 PM | Report abuse

You and Chico just keep saying is true in your mind at least....

Posted by: JayBeee | April 10, 2009 10:57 PM | Report abuse

I think it should be noted that the right fielder in this case has possibly the best outfield arm in baseball. As quickly as Franceour gathered the ball off the wall, we may have got the best possible outcome with Milledge ending up on third.

And as to whether he made the right decision, I agree with the general baseball principles cited, but I'm not sure they're applicable. Franceour got under in and put his glove up. While hit deep, the play SHOULD have been a routine flyball out in my opinion. In that case, tagging is the correct play.

Posted by: AlexL925 | April 10, 2009 11:04 PM | Report abuse

I like your point about his arm but the way I see saw it if he did catch it easily as you say.....the would have used that arm to keep Milledge at 2nd even if he did tag.......Half way is the right play and Milledge does not know basic baseball....anyone doubt that?

Posted by: JayBeee | April 10, 2009 11:07 PM | Report abuse

so dukes in the field. the verdict?

i havent analyzed it, but like it.

i also like willie harris in the field. i'm sure there were mistakes, correctable tho.

5th inning

Posted by: malcolmyoung1 | April 10, 2009 11:09 PM | Report abuse

Hill has allowed one run on three hits through five. Winning pitcher of record.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | April 10, 2009 11:29 PM | Report abuse

In the No S--- Sherlock Department, Bob Crapenter just said the "Nats situational hitting has not been good."

Wow. Insight.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | April 10, 2009 11:34 PM | Report abuse

I love the combination of the mute button and Gameday Audio.

Posted by: BGinVA | April 10, 2009 11:41 PM | Report abuse

Hey it's tied, where's the excitement people??!!!

Posted by: skippy1999 | April 10, 2009 11:45 PM | Report abuse

Chico, why only one batter for Tavarez??

Posted by: skippy1999 | April 10, 2009 11:50 PM | Report abuse

Quality start by Hill: 6 innings, 7 hits, 2 runs. They're in a rain delay in the sixth, so his night is probably over. Winning pitcher of record.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | April 11, 2009 12:00 AM | Report abuse

Way to go, Thrilledge. 5-4-3. Now, Dribble is apologizing for him.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | April 11, 2009 12:09 AM | Report abuse

Where is everybody? Going extra. Great game! All you G.S. 1 and a-halves gone to bed?

Posted by: jdschulz50 | April 11, 2009 1:07 AM | Report abuse

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