Sports – Nationals vs Twins, 4.23.2016

Nationals Park, but in early spring 2015, not 2016.

Nationals Park, but in early spring 2015, not 2016.

It’s nice to be back into baseball season, but to not feel too pressured this year.  With the new house, I’ve decided that the number of “extra” games I go to this year will be at a minimum, not only because I could be using my dollars for home stuff, but because I have a tendency to get stressed out when I have too many games on my schedule.  They’re so much fun…but it’s also a big stressor to have to arrange getting there and tickets and finding someone to go with me.  And I don’t need more stress in my life so yeah.  Minimizing.

Thankfully, it’s been more than two weeks since opening day, and I’ve had a lot of other things going on, so a baseball game this past weekend was a nice break for the weekend.  The Nationals were playing the Twins (not pictured above – I didn’t take any pictures of the game – shocking!), and the Nats had won the previous night.  Tanner Roark was pitching, and I disappointed at first because I’d seen him pitch on opening day, and it’s nice to have a little variety with the pitchers you see.

The Nats went up by 2 runs int he first inning, and it seemed like it might be a close but not super exciting game for a little while.  Then late in the third inning we realized that Roark was racking up the strikeouts because he already had 7 at that point.  Unfortunately, he was using a lot of pitches to get to the strikeout and so his total pitch count was high (starting pitchers usually leave the game sometime after 100 pitches, depending on how far into the game they are).  By the fifth inning, my seatmates and I began to wonder how long they’d let Roark stay in – he was nearing the magic number of 100, but hadn’t actually been pitching for that long.  We knew that a Nationals Club record would be 17 (achieved by Max Scherzer in 2015), and that would be a difficult number to reach.  When Roark left the game after his 15th strikeout, everyone stood and cheered – it was a personal best for him, and the third best by any Nationals pitcher.  A thrilling day.

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Also of interest at the ballpark were the new food options.  There had been a shakeup with a lot of familiar vendors leaving (Goodbye Hard Times chili nachos – you were so delicious, and best bang for your buck at the park!), so we wanted to try out some new foods.  My season seats are on the gallery level, so we inspected all the vendors before making a choice.  And it was a hard one.  The Boy tried out the Pinch Dumplings whose stand is behind section 302.  We watched as the staff members servicing that booth made the dumplings to order.    There were at least three varieties offered, and the Boy ended up choosing the pork and cabbage dumplings.  They were fried, and came with a sauce, and were super tasty…even if you’d be hard pressed to taste the cabbage in a particular bite.  6 dumplings cost $9 (I think – should have written this down!).

Virginia Country Kitchen - Chicken Biscuit

I decided to go with the Virginia Country Kitchen – apparently it was at Nats Park last year, but this year has expanded into the gallery level with a stand behind section 315.  We had walked past it early in our wanderings and the smell of biscuits was intoxicating.  There are a variety of biscuits to choose from, along with sides of mac’n’cheese and Virginia wines.  I chose a fried chicken biscuit with no pickles, but lots of their special sauce.  The biscuit itself was crumbly, and the chicken not particularly exciting on its own.  But as soon as each of those components met the sauce, it was magic.  The sauce was spicy, a little sweet, and the perfect binder of fried chicken patty to a slightly too small (in my opinion) biscuit.  The biscuit sandwich also came with a side of kettle chips for $8 (this one I know since it’s on my credit card statement).

We nearly chose to get our baseball lunch from Kapnos or Catchfly – the Mike Isabella-branded vendors at section 301.  Their choices looked pretty terrific, but with very few (if any!) main course items under $12, we decided to try the other options above.  But the couple sitting next to us had gotten the gyro wrap and the cheese steak wrap.  Both looked pretty terrific, and they said that the greek potatoes that you could get were amazing.  So maybe worth a try, but for this gal who is trying to do baseball on a budget…it’ll have to wait for another trip.

What do you all think?  Any other Nats fans who thrilled at the strikeout total?  People who love the new era of interesting food in baseball stadiums?  Has anyone ever tried any of the unique offerings elsewhere?

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