The penultimate home game is upon us

If Matt Capps was still here, we would be playing the “Final Countdown.” Since he is not, well, we will be wondering what if there was a song named “The Penultimate Countdown.” As you know it is the penultimate home game at Nationals Park. I don’t know what it is about the word penultimate… but it’s great. At what point did someone get tired of saying “next to last” and started using penultimate–it is efficacy in its purest form. According to dictionary.com, it was around in 1677 and it comes from the earlier noun penultima, “the next to the last syllable of a word or verse,” and from the adjective penultimus.

 

Last night’s game–or the game before the penultimate game–will eventually be a footnote in the Nationals’ 162 games season but the game will likely be used as a reference point when the team makes it to the playoffs–it may seem like a distant thought right now but it will eventually happen. When that day comes, they will reminisce about how it once was and how drastically it has changed.

 

I can just imagine the conversation that may (but probably won’t) take place as the players pour celebratory champagne on each other while looking back at how far they have come from their early days in DC, celebrating as if Santa Claus just brought them a bike when they were five.

 

“Remember when the Phillies clinched the division at Nationals Park back in 2010?”

 

“When they celebrated on our field and in our ballpark.”

 

“Not today, baby,” he said as he downs a bottle of champagne.

 

“How things change.”

 

That is then but right now the Nats will try to rebound tonight after being shut out by Roy Halladay and the Phillies as they clinched the division in an 8-0 win. It was a forgettable game in many ways for the Nationals.

 

“Kind of embarrassing,” rookie shortstop Ian Desmond said, “when everyone in the stadium is clapping against you when you’re at home.”

 

The Phillies are where the Nationals want to be. It is where every team wants to be. The Phillies will send Roy Oswalt to the mound. He is 7-0 with a 1.40 ERA (70.2 IP/ 11ER) with 65 strikeouts since the Nats handed him the loss in his first start in a Phillies uniform on July 30.

 

“You work your whole year to get to that next level,” Nyjer Morgan said. “The other team gives you motivation so you can try to succeed and get to that level where those guys are at. We just got to put the pieces together.”

 

“They’ve got a special thing going,” Manager Jim Riggleman said. “They play great baseball. They’re prepared. They pitch. They work hard. They’re professional. For years, to win the division you had to go through Atlanta. Now you have to go through Philadelphia.”

 

Maybe someday people will say it goes through NatsTown. Crazier things have happened.

 

Speaking of crazy things: it’s a little crazy to think that Ryan Zimmerman turned 26 today. He just seems a lot older. Happy Birthday!

 

Phillies (94-63):

1.    Jimmy Rollins – SS

2.    Raul Ibanez – LF

3.    Chase Utley – 2B

4.    Ryan Howard – 1B

5.    Ben Francisco – CF

6.    Domonic Brown – RF

7.    Greg Dobbs – 3B

8.    Brian Schneider – C

9.    Roy Oswalt – SP (13-13, 2.80 ERA)

  Nationals (67-90):

1.      Nyjer Morgan – CF

2.      Roger Bernadina – LF  

3.      Ian Desmond – SS

4.      Adam Dunn – 1B

5.      Michael Morse – RF

6.      Danny Espinosa – 2B

7.      Ivan Rodriguez – C

8.      Alberto Gonzalez – 3B

9.      Jason Marquis – SP (2-9, 7.18 ERA)

 

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