September 11, 2014
The Washington Nationals took two of three games from the Atlanta Braves at home in D.C. this week, thereby widening their lead in the NL East Division to eight games and cutting their "magic number" to just ten. It was a big relief to get past one of their arch-nemeses, pretty much eliminating the Braves' hopes of contending for the divisional title this year. On Monday, Doug Fister pitched a masterful seven innings, in a pitchers' duel with Mike Minor, exiting the game with a 1-0 lead. The Nats' bullpen did their job, and Washington won by a score of 2-1. Now Fister has a 13-6 record.
On Tuesday, the Nats jumped to a 4-0 lead in the first inning, as batter after batter got hits. They cooled off after that, but Jordan Zimmermann prevented the Braves from closing the gap. He left after six innings, having given up four runs, two of which were earned. Final score: Nats 6, Braves 4.
Wednesday's game was scoreless for the first four innings, as Stephen Strasburg pitched well, but gave up three runs in six innings. The Braves got three more runs in the eighth inning, so even though Bryce Harper hit a dramatic (solo) home run in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Nats still lost, 6-2.
Then tonight in New York, the Nats beat the Mets 6-2, thereby shrinking their "magic number" to just nine. For a while, it looked like a rout, with the Nats getting a 6-0 lead before the Mets started clawing their way back. Adam LaRoche homered in the first inning, and Anthony Rendon followed suit in the third inning. Things got dicey in the seventh and eighth innings, when the Mets loaded the bases with just one out. The relief pitchers got into a couple jams, as the bases were loaded with only one out in both the eighth and ninth innings, but they got out of it both times. Tanner Roark got his 13th win of the season, pulling even with [Doug Fister]
Next week the Nats travel to Atlanta, where they will play three games against the Braves in Turner Field.
Ryan Zimmerman has started hitting balls in batting practice, and even knocked a few of them into the outfield seats. (NOTE: On September 1, I erred in suggesting that Zimmerman's return was expected in the next week or two. If he returns to active duty soon, it would greatly boost the Nats' postseason prospects.
On this date two yers ago, the Nats had an 88-54 record, with a 7.5-game lead over the Braves and a magic number of 13.
Last year Bruce Orser sent me information on the exact structural dimensions of Braves Field, so I made the diagrams slightly bigger for the sake of accuracy. The field itself is the essentially same as before, but the entry portals in the pavilions have been moved, and a few tiny details have been corrected as well. While I was at it, I added a "roofless" diagram version, showing where the entry portals and (obstructing) roof support columns were located. That diagram shows the restrooms that were situated at both ends of the concourse at the rear of the grandstand, but the one on the third base side was evidently a few feet lower, as the space constraint imposed by the property line on that side reduced the number of seat rows from about 55 to about 50.
I was watching one of the "Nationals' Classics" baseball games on MASN recently, reminding me of other present and former Nats players with weird names. I went back and checked the (partial) rosters for each year since 2005 on the Washington Nationals annual (history) page. Here's the list I came up with, in reverse chronological order: