Nationals Beat Orioles. 5-4 Final. PLUS: The Washington Nationals' Winter: A Look Back.

If you missed last night's game, check out the Game Thread to read what the DC Faithful saw in the Nationals' win...

Line of the Day: LOUtheMETSfan...after Mike Hinckley allows three straight singles and the O's tie the game at 4-4...

LOUtheMETSfan: "We've been WoodHincked©!!"

The Washington Nationals - (September 28, 2008 - April 6, 2009) (ed. note - "In case you were off watching football or something...")

Top 5 Stories Of the Winter...

1. Teixeira Says No.

Up until the very last minute there was a chance that the #1 free agent bat on the market this winter, Mark Teixeira, was actually going to accept the 8-year/$160M dollar deal that the Washington Nationals had set on the table up front before anyone else had even thought of discussing dollars and years. The high bid kept DC in the running all the way, but Teixeira opted for pinstripes, sort-of disappointing the Nationals fans, and paving the way for the man Federal Baseball.com knew Washington would get all along to sign with the Nationals. 

2. Smiley Isn't Smiley. 

The story of the prospect named Esmailyn "Smiley" Gonzalez eventually led to Former DC GM Jim Bowden's resignation. An SI.com story by Melissa Segura broke the story of the Nationals' prospect who had knowingly falsified his background information, most importantly of course, his age, transforming the Nationals' GCL Batting Champ from a 19-year-old prospect into a 23-year-old late-bloomer. SMILEYGATE. 

3. Bye Bye Bowden.

The same SI.com reporter, Melissa Segura, who broke the story of "Esmailyn Gonzalez", reported that a federal investigation into the skimming of signing bonuses given to Latin American prospects was looking at the former DC GM, who ended up resigning weeks later when it became apparent to him that he could no longer perform his duties as general manager. "Acting" GM Mike Rizzo was named as Bowden's replacement. 

4. Zimmerman(n) and Martis.

Back on January 23, 2009, then-Asst. GM Mike Rizzo told Washington Post writer Chico Harlan, in an article entitled, "The Season Tickert Holder Luncheon...", that 22-year-old right-hander Jordan ZImmermann could be, "major league-ready as soon as this spring training," and it turns out Mr. Rizzo was right, as Zimmermann, and 21-year-old Shairon Martis were both named to the '09 Nationals' starting rotation earlier this week, surprising anyone in the baseball world who hadn't been listening to the Nationals themselves, or MLB.com's Bill Ladson, who, in an article entitled, "Nationals see reasons for optimism in 2009", had both young pitchers in the '09 rotation as far back as October 2, 2008.

5. Dunn Dunn Dunn...

It was inevitable. Or let's put it this way...on January 20th 2009 I had already written a post entitled, "Can Adam Dunn And The Washington Nationals Just Accept Each Other Already? I'm Tired Of Dreading It..." Adam Dunn didn't sign with DC until February 11th. I'll deal with it for the next 1-1/2 years...as long as the Washington Nationals  DO NOT TRADE NICK JOHNSON!!

Runner Up: (ed. note - "And only because it's going to end up being the story of this season...")

6. The STRASBURG FILES.

(ed. note - "Just thought it would be fun to take a quick look back before moving forward...Real Baseball Starts Tomorrow...I'll have a Game Thread Up Early...Who's Ready For Opening Day? Game Report on the Final Game of Spring after the ju")

The last exhibition game before Monday’s Season Opener is being played in Nationals Park, with Washington welcoming their neighbors to the north, the Baltimore Orioles into NatsTown.™ DC Faithful? Are you there? Adam Dunn’s at first, and Josh Willingham’s in left, Austin Kearns in right, and Shairon Martis on the mound. Nationals Park is empty, but there’s also some sort of basketball tournament going on tonight that’s pulling people away from the Park. Will they come next Monday?

Lastings Milledge works the count full in his first at bat like a leadoff hitter, but pops up a fastball behind third. After an infield single from Cristian Guzman, a double from Ryan Zimmerman, and an Adam Dunn walk...“The Hammer” Josh Willingham scores four runs with one swing on a fastball that ends up in the bullpen in left for a 4-0 DC lead. Grand Slam for Josh Willingham his first Nationals Park AB. 

 

Adam Dunn commits one of what will probably be many errors at first if the Nationals intend to play him there, with one down and one on in the O's second to give Felix Pie a shot, but Pie flies out to center. Shairon Martis jams Cesar Izturis and the resultant grounder ends Martis’ second scoreless. 

 

Brian Roberts has a double taken away by Willingham, who runs down a liner and fires in quicker than expected Roberts expected. Nick Markakis sneaks a ground ball under Belliard’s glove to put two on for Aubrey Huff...Huff destroys a hanger from Martis and bounces it off the second deck in right. 4-3 ballgame. Melvin Mora and Luke Scott hit back to back singles off Martis. Gregg Zaun helps Martis out with a double play grounder to end the O’s third. 

 

...Shairon Martis gives up back to back singles in the fifth but pops up Melvin Mora and Luke Scott and gets a ground ball to second from Gregg Zaun to end the fifth with the Nationals’ 4-3 lead in tact...and Martis steps up with a grounder under Aubrey Huff at first to start the Nationals’ fifth. Two outs later, Martis still on second and it’s up to Ryan Zimmerman to bring the pitcher in. ZImmerman walks and Adam Dunn will get a shot at O’s lefty Jamie Walker, who replaces Alfredo Simon (4.2 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 1 K,  HR)...Dunn vs Walker...Lefty vs Lefty...Dunn rips...a groundout to Brian Roberts at second. 4-3 DC after five. 

 

Austin Kearns walks to start the sixth, two outs later, Jesus Flores doubles over third and into short left. Justin Maxwell works a two-out walk, and Lastings Milledge gets a chance to pad the lead in the sixth against O’s reliever Alberto Castillo. Castillo shatters Milledge’s bat. 4-3 Nationals after six. Lefty reliever Mike Hinckley is on in the seventh and gets two outs quickly before allowing three-straight singles to Oscar Salazar, Ty Wiggington and Scott Moore and it’s tied at 4-4. 

 

Willie Harris and Kory Casto both line bloopers over short with one down in the Nationals’ seventh. Josh Willingham grounds into what should be a DP if Ty Wiggington could’ve handled it, Harris scores, Hammer safe at first. 5-4 Nationals. Saul “Sa-ool” Rivera gives up a one-out single but gets a DP grounder to Alberto Gonzalez at short, Ronnie Belliard at second, to Kory Casto at first, double play to end the O’s eighth. The Nationals go down in order in the 8th...

 

It’s time for “Wild” Joel Hanrahan to close it out...Ryan Freel grounds to Belliard at second. 1. Robby Hammock sneaks a single through the left side of the infield. Oscar Salazar works the count full and walks. Ty Wiggington can’t catch up with Hanrahan’s heat...Wiggington grounds to second, Belliard to Gonzalez at second, 2, to first...too late. Two down, first and third. Scott Moore almost puts one out, but it’s foul, full count, Moore slices one to short, Gonzalez fields and throws, Nationals win. 5-4 final. 

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