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Out of Reach, Out of Field

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Baseball is a team sport. No one can practice batting if there is no one to pitch. No one can play catch with themselves, a ball, and a mitt. The Washington Nationals had created a team over the off-season baseball months with a new owner and new manager, but still their team was predicted to lose 120 games. They were out to prove that wrong, but as the first two games started as pitiful losses and the their third game started slipping away when Cody Ross, Miguel Cabrera, and Mike Jacobs homered. Those balls were out and away, no nonsense, hit the upper deck kind of homers and as they surfed the chilly April wind, they were out of reach and out of field. That’s when I began thinking that winning this game was out of mind.

Maybe it was Rauch’s two consecutive strikeouts with a runner on third base that kept the Nationals’ in the game that cloudy April day. Maybe it was Church’s three run homer. Maybe it was the clutch hits that finally came together to score runs, limping their way home as the Nationals at one time trailed by 5 runs, 6-1 and they were missing 3 key players. Yet, their team came together and as Dimitri Young started a streak of sacrifices and clutch hits in the sixth inning and Ronnie Belliard started another contagious streak of hits in the ninth inning, all that teamwork had paid off.

That game had started out rough, just as the beginning of the season had. The Washington Nationals had already lost their first two games, giving up 9 runs each game. There were errors, injuries, and just about everything else that could go wrong. As rain and a un-April type of chill threatened the Washington Nationals’ third game in the 2007 season, a gloomy prospect on the game began to take hold of the 18,835 spectators in the almost empty stadium. The first pitch, thrown by rookie left-hander, Mike Chico, was a ball. The hits that followed gave the Florida Marlins a five run lead.


However, it wasn’t just Mike Chico that got the Nationals into a similar situation as their last two games. Third baseman, Ryan Zimmerman missed a grounder that hopped across the infield and into left field. Another pitcher missed an easy out on a pathetic bunt. Hits that turned into runs weren’t happening for the Nationals until the sixth inning, when the game was already half over. Yet, everybody in the bullpen and dugout played from behind, and had made something work. The sun fought its way out from behind the clouds during the game for a few minutes of sunshine. These players deserved it.


The Nationals came back to win 7-6 to the Florida Marlins when Dimitri Young hit a fastball high to left field. It scored Casto; game over. This game brought so many firsts to the Nationals as they hugged, jumped, cheered for the first time this season. It was a win for many, first of the Washington Nationals 3rd and last season in RFK stadium, first win for rookie manager Manny Acta, and first win for Jon Rauch, the tall, longhaired, strike pitcher. It also brought the first major-league RBI for Kory Casto and the first homerun of the season for the Nationals, hit by Ryan Church. That chilly April wind never died down and the Nationals finally had their own ball to hit out of the park and cruise by in the wind. They also stretched for that out of reach game, just to pull that ball game back inside RFK Stadium. It wasn’t out of reach; it just took the whole team.



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