When the Phillies come to town to play against the Washington Nationals, they bring busloads of fans with them. Since it is easier to get tickets for a game at Nationals Park than it is at Citizens Bank Park, many Phillies fans make the three-hour trip to DC and try to take over the ballpark. They wear their Howard and Polanco jerseys and try to cheer louder than the Nats fans. This weekend was no different, with over 40,000 fans filling the park for the weekend series and at least half of them being Phillies fans.
In Friday night’s game, it started raining just after the Nationals’ Liván Hernandez had started pitching in the first inning, and it led to a rain delay of over two hours that ousted Phillies starter Roy Oswalt. Phillies’ manager Charlie Manuel wanted the game to be rescheduled, but the umpires decided to wait it out and it led to a Nationals 8-4 victory thanks to a walk-off grand slam from Nats’ third baseman Ryan Zimmerman in the ninth inning. In Saturday’s game, the Nationals were shut out 5-0, so the Sunday game became the rubber game of the three-game series. It promised to be a good one, with Chien-Ming Wang pitching for the Nats against the Phillies’ ace Roy Halladay.
Halladay started out a little slow, allowing 2 runs in the first inning (in his last outing, he had thrown 122 pitches in a complete-game victory, so Nats fans were hoping he’d be tired). Halladay settled down after the first inning though, striking out 5 in five innings before the rains came. After the rain delay, he was replaced by Michael Schwimer, who made his Major League debut by allowing Nats’ second baseman Danny Espinosa to hit a home run that tied the game. Poor kid – his whole family from Alexandria, VA was in the park anxious to watch his debut, and he allows a home run!
The game ended up going into the tenth inning, and an extra-inning game is something I just do not like. You don’t know when it’s going to end, the kids are hungry and want their dinner, the clothes in the dryer have to sit there a while longer – you just don’t know how long it’s going to go and my entire household suffers because of it. Luckily, this game ended in the bottom of the tenth, in what I consider the cheapest victory that the Nationals have had this year (but a victory over the Phillies nonetheless).
In the bottom of the tenth inning with one out, Ryan Zimmerman hits a double off Phillies’ reliever Brad Lidge, who is fresh off the DL. Then they decide to walk Michael Morse, and if there’s one thing I dislike more than extra-inning games, it’s the intentional walk (OK, I don’t like the DH or the balk rule either, but I will leave those topics for another day…). So Zim is on second base and Morse is on first, and Jayson Werth comes to the place. “Werth-less” was already sporting the “Golden Sombrero,” so I was convinced that he was going to hit into a double play or strike out looking. But instead, Werth got a base hit which loaded the bases.
By now, we were all hungry, the game had been going on for four hours (including the one-hour rain delay), and I was sure that Johnny Gomes was going to mess things up. I’m not a big Gomes fan yet, so he needs to do a lot to win me over. So he’s standing at the plate, and Lidge end up hitting him in the left elbow! This allows Zimmerman to jog home and the Nationals end up winning the game 5-4.
No, the Nationals are not contenders this year. Yes, they’re 20 games out of first place in their division. But any time they can beat the team with the best record in the Majors, we Nats fans celebrate. And even sweeter was the fact that all those Phillies fans who tried being louder than the Nats fans in our ballpark had to get on their buses and take a long ride back home after their team lost 2 out of the 3 games this weekend.
About the Author
Written by Marien Hornyak
I was born and raised in Puerto Rico but have lived in the continental US for 22 years. I have a BS in Athletic Training and a MEd in Sport Management, where I did my thesis on "The History of Baseball Litigation." I am a wife, mother of 2, and self-proclaimed "Baseball Nerd." My favorite baseball players include Roberto Clemente, Kirby Puckett, and Iván Rodriguez.