Prior to the season, I wrote something to the effect that one of Washington’s top bench priorities should be to find a decent left-handed bat because Chad Tracy wasn’t it. How two months of spiteful play actually makes this news sting:
As the injuries continue to mount for the Nats, Lombardozzi’s emergence has become even more invaluable. Even though his glove doesn’t play all that great in left, he has certainly brought light to a position that has been a black hole for the Nationals. And when Morse returns, his versatility and bat will play nice as a super utility man and weapon off of the bench, lessening the sting of losing Tracy.
Twenty-two outs into last night’s game, it looked for all the world that the Nationals were barreling towards defeat, unable to do much of anything against Reds starter Bronson Arroyo. Seemingly wanting to flee Nationals Park like Bobby Petrino from a crash-scene, as quickly as each Nationals hitter came to the plate, he found himself slinking back to the dugout with haste. Then the genius of Dusty Baker struck.
Although Arroyo was only at 94 pitches, and had set down seven straight hitters, Dusty pulled him in favor of lefty Bill Bray with one out in the bottom of the eight. Now, I understand that the Nationals had sent up the left-handed hitting Chad Tracy to pinch-hit, so you might be inclined to say Dusty was just going by the book. Problem is (if you are a Reds fan), Dusty reads the Berenstain Bears Play Ball. As soon as Bray came into the game, Davey Johnson pulled Tracy back and replaced him with righty Xavier Nady, who promptly tied the game at 1-1 with a solo shot to left.
Four scoreless innings for both teams followed Nady’s heroics, which set the stage for Jayson Werth to drive in the winning run in the bottom of the 13th. It was interesting, no depressing, to read this morning that Werth’s walk-off hit was his first in a Nats uniform. Good for him. Last season was that rough.
Game ball(s): Werth. He was the only Nat with more than one hit and his second of the night drove in the game-winning run. That’s sort of important.
Goat(s): Thank you Dusty!
Bryce Harper is not as far off: Jordan Zimmermann. He was stellar for seven innings but walked away with a no-decision because Arroyo thoroughly stymied the Nationals for 7 and 1/3 innings. And he is on my fantasy team. Poor guy.
Current Record: 6-2
Productive and clutch. On back to back days. One of which was a Saturday. I hardly know who the Tracy’s are anymore.
But after today’s exciting 7-4 comeback victory over the Cubs, I will take a rebel with the Tracy name. And Chad Tracy, with his two-run single in the top of the eight to give the Nationals the lead, wasn’t the only Nats player to come out of the blue with a monster performance. Who saw LaRoche’s 4-5 day, with a 2-run home run coming? Evidently, Miss Cleo was too busy mocking to notice this big day in the crystal ball.
So granted it has been the Cubs, but two games, two comeback victories have felt wonderful so far. Hopefully, Washington’s bats get going a little earlier in the game tomorrow, helping support Zimmermann as he pitches for the series sweep.
Game ball(s): Tracy and the Nationals bullpen, especially Stammen and Mattheus, who combined to deliver 3 1/3 scoreless innings after a rough start from Gio Gonzalez.
Goat(s): Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol. It seems that they once again snuck off to the CubbyBear during the middle innings.
Bryce Harper is not as far off: Danny Espinosa, whose solo home run after a masterful 10-pitch at bat with two outs in the top of the eight, started the Nationals five-run rally.
Current Record: 2-0
Although I was unsuccessful in convincing my boss that seeing the Nationals season opener was a legitimate medical emergency*, I did manage to get home just in time to see Kerry Wood walk the Nationals back into the game in the top of the 8th. After coming on for a dominant Ryan Dempster with one on and one out in the top of the 8th, Wood went all Wild Thing and walked three straight Nationals hitters, including Jason Werth, which tied the game at 1-1. Ian Desmond then capped off a nice day with the game-winning single in the top of the ninth, driving in Chad Tracy after his big two-out double.
*As outrageous requests are want to do, I nearly then had a real medical emergency after Ian Stewart crushed a triple to right in the bottom of the 9th off of Brad Lidge. On probably any other day in Chicago, it would have been gone. But thankfully, it seems with Rahm Emanuel, Dick Durbin, and David Axelrod in the crowd, the hot air was blowing in today.
Game ball(s): Can we give the season’s first game ball to an element of nature? Sure, why not? Congrats wind!
Goat(s): Wood. Bill Murray kept saying Wood was just building the drama. I didn’t realize it took that much balls to make a good drama.
Bryce Harper is not as far off: Is it going to come to this Adam LaRoche? I’m going to be happy when Chad Tracy is subbed in for you?
Current Record: 1-0