Today was the third and final game of the three-game series between the Nationals and the Seattle Mariners (yes, more of that interleague stuff, I know!). The Nationals had won the first two, winning the first game 6-5 after Wilson Ramos hit a walk-off home run in the ninth; and the second game by a score of 2-1 in a not-as-exciting fashion. Today's afternoon game featured Jason Marquis starting for the Nats (the best starter the Nationals have) and rookie sensation Michael Pineda starting for the Mariners. Pineda is 6'7, which makes him one of the tallest people I've ever seen. Both pitchers had total control of the game - Jason Marquis even had a no-hitter going into the sixth inning that was broken (ironically) by Pineda himself. It was one of those fast-moving, not-so-interesting games, especially since the Nationals left the bases loaded at one point. But in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Nationals' bats came alive and they won by a score of 1-0. There was way more bunting in that inning than I had seen in days, but the Nats won nonetheless. That's 11 wins in their last 12 games, and that puts them one game above .500, solidly in third place. I was one happy baseball fan! But shortly after the game, Nationals' manager Jim Riggleman abruptly resigned, stating that team management never finalized his contract, kept giving him the runaround, and just didn't give him the respect and commitment that he felt he deserved. I always liked Riggleman - I found him to be a little passive, but I know that the fiery, worked-up manager is a thing of the past. Most managers nowadays are more mellow, and Riggleman was definitely calm and collected. I give him major kudos for sticking to his guns and not letting the team's upper management continue to string him along on such a short leash; I just wish the timing had been a little better. His team (now former team) is playing well, Stephen Strasburg will be back next year, and Bryce Harper is up-and-coming. I bet there will be guys knocking each other out of the way to try and get Nats' GM, Mike Rizzo, to hire them. I personally would never work for Mr. Rizzo, but I hope whoever takes over the job continues to lead the Nationals in the same respectable, professional manner that Jim Riggleman did.
In other baseball news, I'm sure you've heard by now that Albert Pujols is out for about six weeks with a broken wrist. It was awful seeing him rolling on the field in pain; not as bad as when Buster Posey was trampled at home plate earlier in the season, but still painful to watch. Not only do I feel bad for Albert, but the poor Cardinals have been playing some lousy baseball lately, and they will surely miss Albert both at the plate and on first base. The only good news that comes from that story is that now somebody else has the opportunity to start at first base in the All-Star Game. Joey Votto maybe? He got my vote, so I hope he's the lucky one. I will miss seeing Albert in the Home Run Derby too; that's always fun to watch.
Then there are those darn Phillies, who still can't seem to lose any games or any ground on the NL East. They won't be playing the Nationals again until August; who knows what the standings will look like then! All I know is their pitching remains solid, their hitters continue to be hot, and they still get on my nerves!
Finally, today's interesting baseball fact (speaking of fiery, worked-up managers): On this day in 1988, George Steinbrenner fires Yankees manager Billy Martin for the fifth time. Talk about a guy who was passionate about the game (Martin) and a guy who was passionate about winning (Steinbrenner)!