Tonight I was in Harrisburg for the Senators game against the Portland Seadogs, the AA-affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. Rehabbing with the Senators tonight where Denard Span and Dan Uggla.

I decided late on Friday to attend this game. It was Steven Souza Jr. Bobblehead Night, and I mentioned last week that I was interested in that as a nostalgia piece; it was the 2013 Senators team, on which Souza (along with Aaron Barrett and Blake Treinen) played, that, as I said at the time, made me a better Nationals fan. But it was the rehab stints for Uggla and Span that pushed me to buy the ticket late Friday afternoon, at a point when my brain had largely shut down at the office.

“Brain shut down” is not an exaggeration. My day job is to write marketing copy for a monthly catalog. I have about two weeks in which to write the catalog copy, and it amounts to about 80,000 words total. (That’s a decent sized novel. Twice the length of The Great Gatsby. Not that I’m comparing my work to Fitzgerald, though I do aim for that.) This week, I topped 50k, and by 5:30 Friday afternoon my brain had had enough and could go no further. That’s when I bought the ticket for tonight’s Senators game.

(I have a ticket for tomorrow afternoon’s game as well, but I may move that to the final weekend of the year, Labor Day Weekend, depending on whether or not Span and/or Uggla are playing tomorrow and whether or not I’ll feel baseball-ed out. See, I’m also going to Thursday’s Nationals game; I bought the ticket so I can go to the petting zoo. I want to pet a baby goat!)

I’m not going to talk about the game. There’s nothing really to say, and this tweet will explain why:

I was off by one. The Senators sent fourteen men to the plate.

Span led off with a walk.

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Dan Uggla followed that with a two-run home run.

Wilmer Difo hit a triple, but he was tagged out at the plate when the Seadog’s first baseman went home with a chopper by Brian Goodwin. Shawn Pleffner walked. Chris Bostick singled to center to load the bases. Cutter Dykstra singled to center to bring Goodwin home. Drew Vettleson singled to center to bring home two runs. Brian Jeroloman singled and Dykstra came home. Span, batting for the second time in the first, singled into right field to load the bases.

At this point, the Seadog’s manager had had enough.

Uggla hit a ground ball that bounced over the third baseman’s head into left, bringing home two runs and moving Span to third. Difo hit a sacrifice fly to right, bringing home Span. Goodwin singled, then Pleffner ended the inning with a 6-4 putout on Goodwin.

After 1 inning, the Senators were up 9-0. At that point, the game was basically over. The Seadogs were never back in it, and they lost by a score of 12-1.

So, let’s talk about what I saw in Harrisburg.

Denard Span. To me, he looks like he’s ready to come back.

In the first, he had a walk and a single. In the third, he hit a home run to the scoreboard seats in right field. In the fifth, he hit the ball into deep center for an out. In the eighth, he grounded into a double play.

He didn’t have a lot of chances in center field. He had a ball hit straight at him in the first; he hardly had to move. In the fifth, a ball was hit hard to the warning track in right center; Span got a good jump, ran hard, covered a lot of ground and made a difficult catch on a ball that I don’t think most center fielders would have caught. His final chance of the night came in the sixth; a ball was dumped into shallow center in front of him and he played it on the bounce.

Span’s third inning home run, by the way, was judged the game’s Capital Blue Cross Live Fearless Moment of the Game. I sorta went, “Okay,” because by the third the game was already into garbage time.

In short, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he were activated and back in the Nationals’ line-up in the next few days.

Dan Uggla.

I didn’t realize that Uggla was on the disabled list, so it came as a surprise to me that he was on a rehab assignment.

At the plate, Uggla hit a two run home-run in the first, followed by a single that scored two runs, also in the first. He singled again in the third, grounded into a force out in the fifth, and struck out in the 7th. At that point, he was replaced with Reegie Corona, a recent pick-up by the Nationals out of the independent Atlantic League.

Defensively, Uggla had an chance in the first where he attempted to field a blooper single into shallow center that no one could reach. It was a valiant effort. He had a similar chance in the second that was successful; he backpedaled a long ways to make the catch.

He also had a chance in the sixth; there was a runner on first, he fielded a grounder, and threw to Difo at second. Difo was dropped the ball as the runner slid into second, but the runner was off the bag and tagged out by Difo when he recovered the ball. It was an interesting play to watch unfold; I had to explain to a group of kids sitting behind me how the runner was out.

I wasn’t sure why Uggla was pulled after the seventh inning, except that the Senators have far more infield depth than outfield depth. The current program, which has Matt Purke on the cover, lists only three outfielders on the Senators’ roster — Goodwin (tonight, playing left), Vettleson, and Isaac Ballou.

Suffice it to say, I thought Uggla looked fine. He was clearly locked in at the plate, he was fielding well enough. He’ll probably be back in DC before too long.

Wilmer Difo.

The tickets in my season plan are somewhat behind home plate, but tonight’s ticket was off to the side, in the bleachers along the first base side. (For the Nationals Park equivalent, think Section 155.) So I got a look at his batting stance.

It’s weird. I mean, it’s really weird. It’s a squat, with his legs angled out. It doesn’t look comfortable, and I’m not sure how he gets any energy into his swing. Clearly, it works for him, but it doesn’t make sense to me.

Austin Voth

I last saw Voth last Sunday, a game where he ran up a high pitch count and gave up 2 runs across five innings. I was curious to see what his next start would be like. (He took the loss in Sunday’s game, but the real disaster on that game was the bullpen, which was a dumpster fire in the eighth and ninth innings.)

He pitched an efficient game. I’ve said before that, when I watch him on the mound, I’m reminded a lot more of Jordan Zimmermann than Stephen Strasburg. (Voth wears #37.) Partly it’s his poise on the mound, partly it’s the way he works. I can’t really quantify it. It’s just a feeling I get from watching Voth.

Voth looked to have a nice mix of pitches (I coudln’t judge speeds, because the stadium’s ribbon boards, which is where they put the radar gun readings, weren’t operating), and he was getting a lot of strikes, both called and swinging. He only ran into trouble in the 4th, and he got out of it giving up only one run.

I’m not sure what Voth projects out to — back-end starter? bullpen arm? I just don’t know.

He went five innings, and was pulled for Dakota Bacus for the sixth. Bacus’ 6th didn’t look good at first, but he got out of trouble, and he had an uneventful 7th. Nick Lee came on for the eighth, and Erik Davis came on for the ninth.

The Crowd.

The announced attendance for tonight was 6,834. I’ve no reason to doubt it, but Metro Bank Park didn’t feel that jammed.

One reason for that? People started leaving in the third inning. At that point, the Senators were up 10-0. (The Seadogs’ only run came in the top of the 4th.) By the seventh, I watched a steady stream of people heading out the left field gate. I tried not to pass judgment on the people for leaving, but the rapid depletion of the crowd also meant that there simply wasn’t any energy in the crowd. The Senators would flash a “Noise” message on the jumbotron, and there wasn’t the crowd to produce anything. Yes, the game was out of hand. And yes, it sucks getting off City Island. But show some hometown pride, people.

*sigh*

Beyond that, there’s not a lot to tell.

I’ll decide in the morning what I’m doing with Sunday’s ticket. Either I’ll use it or I’ll move it.

To sum it up, I think Span and Uggla will be back in DC sooner rather than later. And hopefully they, Span especially, will produce and make this September a September to remember.

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