June 1, 2016 [LINK / comment]
After a narrow 4-3 win against the Phillies on Monday night, the Washington Nationals came a little closer to living up to their high expectations in the games that were held last night and tonight. On Tuesday, Jayson Werth hit a solo homer in the first inning, and Daniel Murphy, Danny Espinosa, and Steven Drew likewise hit four baggers. In Drew's case, it was an inside-the-park HR, the second such feat by the Nats this year. (Ryan Zimmerman did so on May 15.) Once again, Joe Ross pitched seven solid innings to raise his win-loss record to 5-4. Final score: Nats 5, Phillies 1.
In tonight's game, the Nats scored in the first inning once again, this time thanks to an RBI double by Ryan Zimmerman. Wilson Ramos and Danny Espinosa hit back-to-back homers in the sixth inning, and Daniel Murphy scored an inning later after hitting a triple. Ramos had three hits and four RBIs total, and with a .338 batting average, he has to be a leading candidate for the All-Star Game. In the first inning, the Phillies' Adam Morgan hit Daniel Murphy with a pitch, which is how Murphy was able to score two runs on just one hit. (His batting average has fallen to .394.) There were brief rumblings of anger in the Nationals dugout, since Bryce Harper was hit by a pitch on Monday, and has not played in the last two games because of a leg contusion. But this time it was apparently just a mistake. (Adam Morgan's name is virtually identical to the funky neighborhood I used to enjoy in central Washington, D.C. -- Adams Morgan. Did his parents once live there?) Max Scherzer pitched just fine after a couple shaky outings, getting 11 more strikeouts, and the Nats won, 7-2. Sweep! That makes up for the Phillies having swept the Nationals in Washington in late April.
The Nats have now won four games in a row, so it would be very hard to characterize their current status as being "stuck in a rut," as I suggested on Monday. I updated the Washington Nationals page with data for May (16 wins and 14 losses), adding another grand slam (by Jayson Werth on Monday). I also added a column to the historical table showing the managers for each year from 2005 until now, as well as the regular position players and first pitcher. Attendance at Nationals games in May dropped from an average of 34,324 last year to 32,013 this year. Bad weather is probably part of that.
Meanwhile, the Mets lost their second game in a row to the White Sox, so they are now three games behind the Nationals. Today a veteran White Sox pitcher named Matt Albers, who previously had only two hits in his ten-plus years in the major leagues (mostly in the AL, where pitchers don't bat), hit a double in the top of the 13th inning and later scored what turned out to be the winning run, as the Chisox won, 2-1. How about that?
The Hiram Bithorn Stadium diagrams have been revised, with a clearer depiction of the bends in the distinctive "corrugated" roof. (It's an extreme version of the "ribbed" roofs to which I drew attention on April 28.) For the first time there is a "transparent roof" diagram variant that shows the entry portals and roof support pillars. Also, the bullpens and bleachers are rendered much more accurately than before.
For those who don't know, Hiram Bithorn Stadium is the home of the home of the Santurce Crabbers, based in San Juan, Puerto Rico. But more importantly, it has served as a "neutral venue" for a number of MLB games (see the Anomalous stadiums page), and it was the "home away from home" of the Montreal Expos in 2003 and 2004, just before that franchise was relocated to the District of Columbia, becoming the Washington Nationals. It was going to host two games between the Miami Marlins and the Pittsburgh Pirates this past Monday and Tuesday, but MLB officials cancelled those plans due to concerns over the spread of the Zika virus. The games were played in Miami instead.
Like Brazil, Puerto Rico is going through a severe political and economic crisis right now, making it harder for the government to deal with the spread of the Zika virus. In Brazil's case, the situation is so bad that some are urging that the 2016 Olympic Games be postponed or somehow relocated elsewhere. The president (Dilma Rousseff) was impeached and suspended from office for six months, while the Brazilian Senate decides whether to convict her and remove her from office for good.