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A Long, Crazy, Wild Win

Earlier this afternoon, as Mannywood lost its star, Dodger Stadium felt like a stage for the absurd. Take 4:30 p.m. local time, for instance: Manager Joe Torre and GM Ned Colletti stood behind a podium positioned behind home plate. Tower-stacked speakers had been erected at both sides. A crush of about 100 media members formed a semi-circle around them. All this, while the Dodgers were taking batting practice.

Well, then the most surprising thing happened.

The game started, and Dodger Stadium actually hosted a spectacle just as absurd. And for the Nationals, far more rewarding.

Tonight, the Nats staged an enormous comeback. They battled back from a 6-0 deficit. The offense, in vintage fashion, grinded out at bats and built their key six-run eighth inning on the strength of singles, doubles and walks. Starter Jordan Zimmermann, who dealt with a six-run first, stuck around for five more innings and strung together nothing but zeroes.

Oh yeah, and the bullpen still nearly coughed up the lead. The Nats were up 10-6 after the top of the eighth, but Joe Beimel (needing a whopping 40 pitches) gave up one run and three hits. Then, the Nats were up 11-7 entering the ninth; Kip Wells gave up two more runs, four more hits, and ended up pitching to the potential winning run.

Said Beimel: "Dunn was joking that [Greg] Maddux has thrown a complete game throwing one more pitch than I threw in one inning."

A few other notes here...

* If you value an early bedtime or a healthy heart, the Nats are not a team you should be rooting for. But if you're interested in dramatic, sometimes painstaking baseball -- every out is an ordeal... games take forever... huge numbers pile up -- then yes, I wholeheartedly recommend NatsTown. Today, for instance: The game took 3:35. The teams combined for 34 hits. Only one Washington reliever, Ron Villone, didn't allow a run. And he landed at LAX today, fresh from Syracuse, at 6:15 p.m.

* We learned a lot about Zimmermann today. Not many 22-year-olds can let up six in the first inning and then forget about it, pitching the rest of the game like it never happened. Would the Nats rather see him throw a shutout? Sure. But this revealed how he can adjust on the fly, and that's a high currency that'll buy you plenty of big league victories down the line. After that first inning, he threw fewer fastballs and kept the ball lower in the zone. "It was a very good comeback, but the biggest star of the night was Jordan Zimmermann," Manny Acta said. "I think it was special what he did today. He was able to get the ball down after he had given up the six runs [in the first]. But, the fact that he went out there after that and gave us five shutout innings says a lot about the kid."

* The Nats' victory snapped Los Angeles's 13-game home winning streak. By the way, the Dodgers are now 1-2 on nights when Manny doesn't start. Many of Washington's players were plenty amused by the mob scene today, but they were relieved to witness it only as bystanders.

"Thank God," Adam Dunn said. "That's just such a distraction. They can say it's not, but when you have media from all around the country talking about it, I'm really glad to not be a part of that. That would suck."

Now, thanks to the Nats, the Dodgers' hangover this morning is a little worse.

"You ain't lying," Dunn said.

By Chico Harlan  |  May 8, 2009; 3:02 AM ET
 
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Next: Friday Morning Reading

Comments

good game!!!

Posted by: merajc86 | May 8, 2009 3:30 AM | Report abuse

Check out the Guz's play behind second base--the play of his life.

And by the way, it's a lectern or rostrum. You stand on a podium or platform. Join the crowd on that one, though.

Posted by: paulkp | May 8, 2009 3:34 AM | Report abuse

@ paulkp
lecturn... smeckturn...

Who cares this is a baseball blog not the Harvard Grammer Club. Don't you have something better to do at three am like sleep than to correct Chico?

Posted by: mintbucket | May 8, 2009 6:22 AM | Report abuse

Great. Now, JiM has to post with some hidden optimism before every game. ;-)

Imagine my surprise to wake up and learn the results of last night's game. Attaboy, JiM. attateam, Nats!

---

Great. Now, when the Nats break LA's home winning streak, they'll attribute it to Manny's absence.

(There's some optimism hidden in there if you know where to look for it.)

Posted by: JohninMpls | May 7, 2009 10:19 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 8, 2009 6:29 AM | Report abuse

Also, that was a hilarious NatsTown recommendation, Chico! (yawns and stretches)

Also, Joe Beimel = not money? What the?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 8, 2009 6:32 AM | Report abuse

Anyone in the Nats organization taking credit for referring Manny to that doctor?

Posted by: JamesWebster | May 8, 2009 7:13 AM | Report abuse

Watching the complete game last night was a rite of passage for the true Nats' fan. Last night/this morning I saw a team that one can believe in. It was not all good and it was not all bad but it was good enough. Jordan Zimmermann kept me from turning off the television--his last five innings were fun to watch. He is the one most responsible for not letting this game go like so many others.

Posted by: driley | May 8, 2009 7:23 AM | Report abuse

Hugely impressive for a rookie not to get totally rattled by that first inning.

I'm not sure there are that many veterans who can shake off an inning like that and then pitch so effectively.

Very promising.

That bullpen though, reminds me of when Earl Weaver called Don Stanhouse "Full-Pack" Stanhouse because he went through a full pack of cigarettes sweating out his innings. 40 pitches -- jeez.

Posted by: Meridian1 | May 8, 2009 7:41 AM | Report abuse

If this team could only be consistent on the hill, with that lineup, they could be money.

Posted by: cokedispatch | May 8, 2009 7:47 AM | Report abuse

When we first signed Dunn, I was pretty turned off by his attitude. I just thought he was snarky and smug and something just didn't sit right with me. But I have to admit that he's growing on me. Not just because of his play on the field, but because of his honesty and desire to win games.

Posted by: Howelsewouldateacherspendhistimeinthesummer | May 8, 2009 8:04 AM | Report abuse

I believe that Stanhouse was quoted as saying, "Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit smoking."

Oh wait, it was that Enrico Palazzo guy.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 8, 2009 8:05 AM | Report abuse

Chico -

Tyler Clippard is being used in middle relief in Syracuse. To date, he's pitched in 8 games, 16-1/3 IP, with en ERA of 1.12 and WHIP of 0.979.

With Hanrahan starting to look comfortable again, in middle relief, shouldn't the Nats be thinking of bringing Clippard back and using him and Hanrahan in middle relief and set-up roles, and Beimel as closer?

Posted by: gilbertbp | May 8, 2009 8:06 AM | Report abuse

No lie, turned the tube on at 2230 only to watch ZimV2.0 melt down in a 5 run first. Turn off the tube at 2235 telling myself I'm not staying up to watch this. Alarm goes off at 0445 just in time for WTOP Sports sponsored by Lido Pizza to tell me Nats win, Nats win, Lord have Mercy!
Now I'm set for a great day!

Posted by: TippyCanoe | May 8, 2009 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Chico, I love the way you tell a true baseball story. I look forward to reading everything you write. keep up the good work!

Posted by: bsballu5 | May 8, 2009 8:59 AM | Report abuse

If this team could only be consistent on the hill, with that lineup, they could be money.

Posted by: cokedispatch | May 8, 2009 7:47 AM | Report abuse

They are consistent. The problem is, they're consistently bad!

Posted by: rbpalmer | May 8, 2009 9:06 AM | Report abuse

In other news, just learned that Dom DiMaggio died.

http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090508&content_id=4623958&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 8, 2009 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Also, Chico, methinks that runs and hits were transposed for Beimel in your gamer.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 8, 2009 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Lets hear it for the bullpen! Making Natstown proud.

Posted by: Tom8 | May 8, 2009 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Or they were transposed in the blog entry. What day is it, again?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 8, 2009 9:22 AM | Report abuse

Who cares this is a baseball blog not the Harvard Grammer Club. Don't you have something better to do at three am like sleep than to correct Chico?

Posted by: mintbucket | May 8, 2009 6:22 AM | Report abuse
___________________________________________

mintbucket, I know it's not the Harvard Spelling Club either, but it's "grammar," with an "a".

Go Nats!
Great win last night. 11-7 in the late innings is exactly the same score we led Philly by in the horrible 13-11 game, so I was nervous going into the 9th, but Kip got the job done. Beautiful.

Posted by: usmc53 | May 8, 2009 9:23 AM | Report abuse

This is pure beauty, Chico:

"If you value an early bedtime or a healthy heart, the Nats are not a team you should be rooting for. But if you're interested in dramatic, sometimes painstaking baseball -- every out is an ordeal... games take forever... huge numbers pile up -- then yes, I wholeheartedly recommend NatsTown."

I read the first sentence and said, "Amen!" Then I read the second sentence and said, "On the other hand, Amen!"

Posted by: NatsNut | May 8, 2009 9:45 AM | Report abuse

"mintbucket, I know it's not the Harvard Spelling Club either, but it's "grammar," with an "a"."

I thought he was talking about the Harvard chapter of the Kelsey Grammer Fan Club myself.

Posted by: GalRevelsInPee | May 8, 2009 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Good one, nunof, er, GRIP.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 8, 2009 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Man I love freakin baseball. My team stinks. One month into the season, they are already outta the race and way down in the cellar.
Yet I just watched a game last night until god knows what time this morning, one of the greatest games I've ever seen and rooted as hard as if it was the 7th game of the World Series. That was one epic beauty. What a game. What a win. Unreal!!! I Love Baseball!

Posted by: dovelevine | May 8, 2009 10:27 AM | Report abuse

I'm embarrassed to say that when I tuned into the game in the 3rd inning and saw them down by 6, I tuned out until my cellphone buzzed with the Nats' text message about them tying the score in the 8th. Then I started watching the game and nearly threw a beer bottle at the TV with every hit the bullpen let through.

Great win, though!

Posted by: Juan-John | May 8, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Great game!! Works OK for me since I am on the west coast. Have you all noticed that the Nats seem to be the team in the background of the big events?? Barry Bonds' record home run...this Manny steriod deal...weird.

Posted by: PattyinSJ | May 8, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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