Saturday, May 19, 2007

Nats Blow it on the Basepaths -- The record will show that Ryan Zimmerman just missed delivering another game-winning hit with two outs in the 9th inning, against the Baltimore Orioles, but the game was lost earlier. To be sure, the Nats were trailing by a run, with runners on first and third, and Zimmerman laced a 3-2 pitch, but not quite hard enough to get it beyond the reach of the leftfielder. Zimmerman had a great game at the plate, including a two-run home run in the 8th inning, that narrowed the deficit to just the one run. As good as Zimmerman looked at the plate, it must have been very disappointing for him to just miss delivering an extra-base hit that would surely have scored the tying and winning runs.

The Nats didn't come up short because Zimmerman's liner fell into the outstretched glove of Freddie Bynum. Rather, the Nats came up short because of a couple of blunders on the basepaths. With two outs in the fifth inning, and the Nats trailing 3-0, Felipe Lopez singled, and Cristian Guzman walked. Ryan Zimmerman had his first chance at heroics in this game. The first pitch to Zimmerman was a ball. The second pitch was in the dirt and the Orioles catcher, Ramon Hernandez couldn't control it, as it deflected off him and towards the Orioles dugout. Lopez easily reached third, but Guzman reacted late, and he was thrown out easily at second base, ending the threat.

Still, the Nats were able to generate a couple of runs the next inning, as Ryan Zimmerman drew a leadoff walk, and scored on a homer by Dmitri Young. They came into the ninth inning, trailing 5-2 though, because the Nats bullpen surrendered a couple of runs, after over 23 scoreless consecutive innings. In the 9th inning. the Nats would surely have tied the game, but for another base-running error. Nook Logan walked, and then stole second -- his first steal of the year. Logan should have taken third base, when Ronnie Belliard hit a dribbler back to the third base side of the pitcher's mound. Instead, while Belliard was being thrown out at first, Logan stayed on second base. The next batter, Lopez, grounded out, hitting a bouncer to the right side, that advanced Logan to third. If Logan had advanced earlier, on Belliard's grounder, he would have scored on Lopez' ground-out.

Logan's timid base-running put the pressure on Zimmerman to deliver with a two-out hit. Zimmmerman almost did, but it wasn't his fault that the Nats were still trailing, when he came to bat. If they had been smarter, quicker, and more aggressive, the Nats might have already won the game, or at least they could have tied the score just before Zimmerman came to bat.

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