August 23, 2009
After the six-game home stand winning streak two weeks ago [plus two road victories, making eight total], hopes were rising that the Washington Nationals had finally put their losing ways behind them. Then came the awful home stand of the past few days, as the "D.C. 9" were swept by the Colorado Rockies and lost two games to the Milwaukee Brewers. The defeat last night was on one hand hard to take, as the Nats wasted a nine-run offensive outburst, including a grand slam by Ronnie Belliard, but was also encouraging, as they refused to buckle after repeated adversities and kept slugging away until the very end. What did them in was John Lannan's worst outing of the year, giving up seven runs in only two innings.
This afternoon's game was much more satisfying, and left fielder Josh Willingham got things started right on the first play of the game with a great grab of a fly ball hit to the warning track. In the bottom of that inning, the Nats took advantage of an error, after Ryan Zimmerman knocked in a run with a single, and made it to second base which had been left vacant. Runners on second and third with nobody out! Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham both flied out, but then Ronnie Belliard hit a clutch two-run single to give the Nats a comfortable three-run lead that got bigger in later innings, thanks to home runs by Dunn, Zimmerman, and Cristian Guzman. Craig Stammen pitched a fine six-plus innings, and Nyjer Morgan successfully bunted in rookie Mike Morse on a suicide squeeze play. Classic! See MLB.com.
It is gratifying that Belliard is finally hitting like he used to, as he gets more at-bats. He is a reliable hustler, with years of experience, and deserves the chance to prove himself.
The Tribune Company finally completed the transaction by which the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field are being sold to the Ricketts family, for about $845 million. The Ricketts founded TD Ameritrade, which is presumably not part of the Wall Street sleaziness that brought American capitalism to its knees. The process of selling the Cubs began way back in early 2007, and MLB owners began to consider approving the deal last month. (No problems are expected.) According to Yahoo News, completion of the sale "was slowed by CEO Sam Zell's efforts to maximize sale profits, the collapse of the credit markets and Tribune's 2008 bankruptcy filing." Link via Bruce Orser.