August 18, 2015
Was this the turnaround that Nats fans have been hoping and praying for? For the Washington Nationals thus far, August has been no better than the dismal month of July, and the continued losses in spite of their replenished roster raise questions about whether they can even make it to the postseason. But rather than delve into the ugly details of the past six weeks right now, let's concentrate on the rare uplifting moment that took place in Denver tonight. (It's still Tuesday in the Mountain Time Zone.)
It all started fine, with a two-run homer by Yunel Escobar in the top of the first inning. But as Nats fans have come to learn over the past week, scoring first doesn't seem to make any difference as far as helping the team win a ball game. Indeed, the Rockies came right back with three runs in the bottom of the inning, thanks in part to errors by pitcher Jordan Zimmermann and shortstop Ian Desmond. Oh, Lord, here we go again... But in the top of the third, Danny Espinosa launched a two-run rally with the first of two doubles, and the game was tied, 4-4. That seemed to help Jordan Zimmermann settle down on the mound, and even though he gave up two more runs, he left the game after six innings with his team ahead, and he got the win. The Nats showed uncharacteristic pluck and determination, taking advantage of opportunities such as scoring on wild pitches, and getting hits with runners in scoring position (6 for 18). Six of the starting lineup players had multiple hits, while Bryce Harper went hitless and yet scored four runs, once for each time he was walked. (Is that a record of some sort?) Three of the players who have struggled lately -- Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman, and Ian Desmond -- all had multiple runs or multiple RBIs. Just for good measure, the Nats piled on four runs in each of the last two innings, yielding a final score of 15-6. Hooray!
But is it too late? The Nats are now back up to a humble .500 record, 59-59, and are 4 1/2 games behind the New York Mets in the NL East race.
Based on my recent visit to Motown, I have made a few corrections to the Comerica Park diagrams. The most significant change is that the right field fence is about seven feet closer to home than I previously estimated. (The difference is more like ten feet in deep right center.) What gives? After squinting at various photos I took, I realized that the small diagonal portion of the wall in the right field corner is several feet shorter, i.e., the bend near the foul pole is about 335 feet from home rather than 342 feet. I was misled by the 365-foot distance marker in right-center field, which I have concluded exaggerates the true distance by 7 to 10 feet. That is why the 365 box in the diagram now has a red border, to indicate doubt about the accuracy of the marker.
The other noticeable change is that the upper deck in left field now extends about 15 feet farther out than before. If you look at the new panoramic photo on the Comerica Park page (one of ten (10) new photos which I have just added!), you will see that the tip of the upper deck is directly above the "crease" in the lower deck. Dedicated stadium fanatics will notice improved detail in the entry portals, which are slightly bigger than before, and now show more clearly the small staircases on either side of most of those portals. Otherwise, it was mostly just minor corrections. Finally, the text on that page has been updated as well.
Today marked the 100th anniversary of the first game played in Braves Field, home of the Boston Braves until 1953, when they moved to Milwaukee. I only realized that thanks to the "Old Ballparks" page on Facebook, and it reminded me that I mistakenly indicated in my April 12 blog post that the first game there was April 17. (Anyone who has a copy of the 2006 edition of Green Cathedrals and looks at page 31 will see how I made the mistake.) I'll make note of that when I put an improved version of that table on a separate Web page some time in the future.