A Night at Nats Park with David CabreraMy name is David Cabrera and I am an intern at Montgomery Community Media. I started over a week ago and I will be interning here until the end of July or early August (still haven’t decided yet). Until the end of my time here at MCM, I will be writing weekly blog posts about local and national sports. My love of sports has been strong ever since I was 5 years old and my dad flipped on the television to an Atlanta Braves baseball game. As we were watching the game, my Dad was explaining to me the different terminology like pitcher, hitter, hit; just some simple ones and almost immediately I fell in love with the game of baseball. So, you could say I was a baseball fan first and foremost and being Puerto Rican, it’s baseball….and baseball as far as a Puerto Rican’s favorite sport. Though I wouldn’t become a Braves fan and my fan allegiance would shift towards DC sports teams, I look back at that memory pretty fondly. For today’s blog I will be discussing the Washington Nationals game I went to last night.
There are only a couple of things better than going to a live sporting event, which I can leave up to debate for my readers. Last night, I got to go the Washington Nationals vs. Tampa Bay Rays game downtown and let me just say that besides the dullness of the game itself, which the home team eked out by the score of 3-2, was one of the more, if I could say, luckiest games I have ever been to. First off, Stephen Strasburg was pitching and if you have been paying attention to what Strasburg has done this season (a Major League leading 110 strikeouts and a 9-1 record on the year), you would know it is a treat to watch this young man go to work every 5 days, especially live. To go along with seeing Strasburg on the mound, me and my Dad got to the ballpark early enough to catch batting practice. Batting practice is the best chance for a fan, besides during the game, to catch a ball hit into the stands. That chance fell to me last night when Rick Ankiel crushed a ball to the outfield seats, where it ricocheted towards where my Dad and I were sitting and I had myself a souvenir. I am almost a grown man, but to have something like that happen to me, was like a “WOW” moment for me and it was just simply amazing.
After my Dad and I got our overpriced food and drinks and settled into our seats, the game began. The 1st inning, for the Nationals offense and Nationals fans, is where most of the action occurred. Strasburg struck out the first two Tampa Bay batters he faced to start the game and then he got the third batter he faced to ground out. When the Nationals went up to hit, they were facing an unproven rookie pitcher for the Rays named Chris Archer and pounded him early and often in the first inning. The leadoff hitter for the Nats, Stephen Lombardozzi, hit a double to the right field gap and the 19-year old wunderkind Bryce Harper came up and followed that up with a RBI double which gave the Nats a 1-0 lead. Ryan Zimmerman was up after and as it looked like he was going to hit into a groundout to the shortstop Elliot Johnson, Johnson decided to throw to third to get the aggressive Harper out at third but he threw it away and Harper scored: 2-0 Nationals. The next two hitters up for the Nationals, Adam Laroche and Michael Morse, went out in succession. Ian Desmond, who has been “Mr. Clutch” for the Nats this season, came up and hit a single to right scoring Zimmerman: 3-0 Nationals. After that scoring bonanza they experienced in the first inning, the Nationals got shut down by Archer, as he started to calmed down, not allowing another hit the rest of the game.
As the second inning rolled along, Strasburg had gotten the first two Rays batters of the inning to fly out and strikeout. When there was nothing that looked like it could stop #37, the Rays catcher Joe Molina came up and on the first pitch crushed a Strasburg fastball to the leftfield seats above the Rays bullpen. After that miscue and a Rays run in the third inning, Strasburg settled down and went back to his dominating self, striking out 10 Rays batters on the night in 7 innings. His repertoire of pitches were on the money all night: his fastball and his two seam had its usual zip, his knee buckling curveball was buckling hitters, and his changeup was ridiculously fast. There was one point in the game where Strasburg’s changeup was as fast as Archer’s fastball. The guy was just amazing and I’m glad he is pitching for the Nats. Getting back to the action, the top of the ninth rolled around and it was still 3-2 Nats and Tyler Clippard was brought in to close the game and he shut the door on the Rays, emphatically striking out the last Rays batter, Molina, for the final out. While I didn’t get to watch the end of the ninth because my Dad had already made his mind up to beat traffic from the stadium (which unfortunately did not happen), to hear the roar of the crowd on the car radio when the final out was recorded sent chills down my spine and at that moment made me realize that maybe this Nationals team can stay atop the standings for the rest of this year and maybe for the years to come.
I hope you all enjoyed my first blog post and if you have any comments about what I have written and/or any more sports stories that I could touch on for my next post, just let me know, I appreciate the feedback! Have a nice weekend!