Nationals sweep the Orioles
The Washington Nationals beat the Baltimore Orioles in three straight games, playing in Camden Yards, no less. The 9-6 win on Wednesday night was especially sweet; credit goes to Felipe Lopez, whose triple to the right-field corner the 13th inning drove in three runs. Chad Cordero blew his sixth save opportunity of the year in that game, but redeemed himself with a save in last night's 3-1 win. Starting pitcher Jason Simontacchi showed steady improvement after early failures this year, going seven-plus innings. It was only their second series sweep this year. See MLB.com. Apparently, not many fans in Baltimore took the rivalry with Washington very seriously, as attendance for all three games was in the low 20,000s. Perhaps this sweep will convince them that the Nats are deserving of more respect!
Only two Nationals have a reasonable shot at the All Star game this year: Dmitri Young and Cristian Guzman, both of whom are batting above .320 right now. "Golden boy" Ryan Zimmerman is getting his share of clutch hits and home runs (10, leading the team), but his batting average is only .250. It looks like Nick Johnson, the guy Young replaced, will need at least another month or two of rehabiliation before he will be ready to resume play. Thanks to Dmitri Young, there's no hurry.
Thus far, it's been a very good road trip. Last weekend, the Nats took two out of three games from the Twins in the Metrodome -- the first time Cristian Guzman had played there since he left Minnesota. This weekend, the Nats head up to Toronto to play the Blue Jays, who used to be the team's regional rivals when they were called the Montreal Expos.
Roger Clemens is back
In the Bronx last Saturday, Roger Clemens eased fans' concerns about whether his 44-year old body is up to major league stress requirements. In his first big league game since signing with the Yankees, he struck out seven batters over six innings, as the Yankees beat the Pirates, 9-3. Clemens seems to have adapted his style to his abilities: as Dave Sheinin wrote in Washington Post, Clemens was "more deceptive than overpowering, more savvy craftsman than savage brute..." As us middle-agers know, the mind gets sharper while the body gets frailer.
It would have been a shame if my recent time-consuming political pursuits had not borne fruit, but fortunately the good guys won -- by a narrow margin. A month ago, it looked like the challenging candidate had a solid lead, but incumbent state senator Emmett Hanger proved to be the "comeback kid."
The mail bag
Bruce Orser pointed me to another new batch of Citi Field construction photos at baseball-fever.com.