Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Deed Is Done -- Despite the steroid scandal (and the virtual certainty of HGH use, too), one still has to respect Barry Bonds' achievement, and give credit where credit is due. However, you have to give credit to the Nationals, too -- for challenging Bonds. Most teams have just pitched around Bonds for years now -- whenever the situation allowed. Last night, pitching in only his third major league game, John Lannan kept going after Bonds. Of course, Lannan didn't have a lot of choice. Time after time, Bonds came up with men on base, in a low-scoring, closely-contested game. Lannan walked Bonds twice but he also retired him three times, including striking out the slugger to end the seventh inning. Lannan allowed the leadoff hitter to reach base in almost every inning, but he kept pitching out of trouble. He even got Bonds to hit into a double play.

Tonight, Mike Bacsik kept challenging Bonds, even though he had much less success than Lannan had the hight before. The difference was that balls were flying out of the park. The Nationals had already hit three home runs, and Bengie Molina had hit one for the Giants. When he came to bat in the fifth inning, Bonds already had two hits, having slammed a double over Austin Kearns' head, and lacing a single to center. There was one out, and nobody on base, in a game that was tied 4-4. Bacsik could have pitched around Bonds, but he didn't fear being part of history -- being remembered as the guy who gave up #756. I think everyone felt that this was going to be the historic at-bat. Still, Bacsik nearly had Bonds, who grounded a 3-2 curveball to Dmitri Young. The ball was ruled a foul ball, but it was a close call -- even a questionable decision. Then, Brian Schneider called for a fastball on the outside corner. Bacsik's pitch, though, came over the inside of the plate, and Bonds smacked it to deep center.

The Nats, it must be said, didn't lay down. They came back to win this game, and make a little team history in the process. They've tied the Florida Marlins for fourth place. The night before, the Nats had the chance to catch the Marlins. When Dmitri Young came to bat in the 10th inning, I correctly predicted he would hit the third pitch for a home run. That run didn't hold up though. Felipe Lopez came on a s a defensive replacement, but came up just short of reaching a pair of grounders, giving the Giants men on the corners, and Chad Cordero couldn't prevent the run from scoring. The Giants won it in the 12th. On this historic night, the Nats overcame that disappointment, and the historic home run by Barry Bonds.

Tomorrow night, Tim Redding may be pitching with the chance to move the Nats past Florida, and out of the cellar. Props to Bonds, but props also go out to the Nats, who continue to play really good baseball. At this rate, a winning record ir a s real possibility.

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