Nationals Pastime

Riding a modest two game winning streak the Arizona Diamondbacks open an important weekend series against the powerhouse Washington Nationals. I know; I had as much trouble writing “powerhouse Washington Nationals” as you did reading it. This is the same Washington Nationals who many sports writers thought would be battling the 1962 New York Mets for worst team ever. But times they are a changing. The two hottest teams in the National League since the All-Star break are the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Washington Nationals. Diamondbacks fans are well aware of the local team’s success of late; with a record of 19-8 in the second half and winners of 16 of their last 19 games. In the euphoria of being in first place in the National League West we sometimes forget that there are other teams who are also having some success. The Nationals have a record of 17-11 in the second half and come to Chase Field having won 11 of their past 16 games. This Washington series should prove to be much tougher than it would first appear on paper. The optimum word there is “should”.


An interesting sub-plot to this first game of the series was that Diamondbacks starter Livan Hernandez would be facing his former team the Nationals and he would be opposed by former Diamondbacks farm hand Matt Chico. Chico was traded to Washington as part of the Hernandez deal so in a sense both sides of the trade would be facing each other. Matt Chico had a lot of success in Single-A last season for Lancaster and was moving through the Diamondbacks minor league system very quickly when he was traded a year ago. Since that time he has matured and is settling into a spot in the Nationals starting rotation.

It was an odd game at Chase Field. Things just seemed slightly out of whack and I can’t quite put my finger on the reason why. It started strangely with the Diamondbacks scoring 2 runs in the bottom of the first putting the Diamondbacks ahead which is something new and different. During this season the fans have become accustomed to seeing the team battle from behind. The strange feeling might have been the fact that Washington Nationals pitchers gave up 10 walks during the first 7 innings of the game yet still remained fairly close in the score. Maybe it was the fact that the Diamondbacks staked Livan to a 4-1 lead and he gave up 3 solo home runs in the sixth inning to tie the game. No, I think it got strange when the Diamondbacks scored 11 runs in the game which meant everyone in attendance would receive a coupon for a free Chalupa at Taco Bell. The announcement occurred while they showed pictures of the post game concert on the JumboTron. The band being featured was Banda El Recodo one of the best known Mexican bands. I couldn’t tell whether the fans were cheering for free food or free entertainment. In either case it was great to get a win, a free meal, and some interesting music. The only thing missing was a parade of penguins on the warning track and this could have been one of my dreams.


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