September 5, 2012 [LINK / comment]
D.C. homer-fest: Nats swat a dozen in two days!
For the second night in a row, the Washington Nationals hit six home runs, the most ever hit by a Washington team in Washington. Too bad it had to be against a team I like, the forlorn Chicago Cubs.
On Tuesday night, Ian Desmond got things started on the right foot with a two-run homer in the first inning, and Jesus Flores hit a solo shot in the second inning. Later in the game, Ryan Zimmerman and Tyler Moore also homered, and Adam LaRoche hit two home runs. Starting pitcher Edwin Jackson (9-9) had a great outing with eight strikeouts, until he gave up three runs in the sixth inning, at which point he exited. Final score: 11-5. See MLB.com and/or the Washington Post.
In tonight's game, Bryce Harper hit two homers for the second time in his brief career (the first time was on August 29), making it a total of 17 for the year. Adam LaRoche hit another one as well, his 28th. Wow! Roger Bernadina, Ian Desmond, and Danny Espinosa were the others to hit four-baggers. Those weren't cheap home runs, either: All but one of those long balls sailed over 400 feet, according to ESPN. They say "Washington has the second-longest average home run distance in the majors this season (404.5 feet)." The Cubs were shut out for eight innings, and they didn't even get a hit until the sixth inning. Starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez got his 18th win by striking out nine batters in seven innings, nearly as good a performance as his complete-game shutout last week. The Cubs' Anthony Rizzo hit a home run in the ninth inning, given up by reliever Craig Stammen. Final score: 9-1.
The Nationals had scored six home runs in a game once before, on May 20, 2011, but that was a road game in Baltimore. Just like tonight and last night, one player homered twice: Jayson Werth. (It's ironic, because he was having a bad year.) I had the numbers right in that blog post, but I neglected to include the fourth player who homered that day: Laynce Nix, who now plays for the Phillies. The Nats of course won that day, 17-5; see the full box score at baseball-reference.com
Unfortunately, there weren't many fans in Nationals Park to see all those home runs: 17,248 on Tuesday evening, and 21,244 tonight. In part that reflected the rainy weather in this region (I'm surprised there were no delays), and partly the fact that the Cubs are not in contention this year.
The Nats are 6-1 on their current home stand so far, and after their awful 1-4 road trip last week, their record at home (42-25) is now better than their record on the road (42-27). The "D.C. 9" remain 7 1/2 games ahead of the Braves, and their magic number has shrunk to 19.
Elsewhere in the majors
In the American League East, the Baltimore Orioles briefly caught up to the New York Yankees yesterday, eliciting gasps of horror all around the Big Apple, but then fell back a game after losing to Toronto tonight. In the AL Central Division, the Tigers are just one game behind the White Sox, and anything's possible. In the AL West, the Angels swept the A's, taking a little pressure of the division-leading Rangers, but putting themselves in contention in the process. They're 7 1/2 games back, and the A's are 5 games back.
In the National League Central Division, the Reds have maintained a big (8 1/2-game) lead over the Cardinals, while the Pirates just ended a losing streak by winning two games, so they're still in the hunt for a wild card spot. In the NL West, the Dodgers still have not gained on the Giants, who remain 4 1/2 games ahead.
The mail bag
Speaking of Toronto, there was a rain delay on Tuesday night, when the retractable roof at Rogers Centre got stuck, leaving much of the field and many fans drenched in a downpour. Watch the video at MLB.com; hat tip to Matt Ereth.
Here are a couple news items from Mike Zurawski: The Dodgers have hired Janet Marie Smith (who oversaw the renovations at Fenway Park) to undertake a renovation of Dodger Stadium, beginning this offseason. It's a "phased construction" project that will stretch over multiple years, and there is no talk of getting money from local governments, thank goodness. See fieldofschemes.com. After the billions they spent on beefing up their roster, it's hard to believe the new owners have that much cash left over. It must be Magic (Johnson). One thing I wish they'd do, frankly, is remove two or three rows of those new box seats that were added in 2007. Those seats are practically underground, and foul territory is way too tight. Dodger Stadium ought to be more like it used to be.
Down in Florida meanwhile, a developer named Darryl LeClair is proposing to build a new stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg, close to the bridge that goes to Tampa, but it doesn't sound very serious. See fieldofschemes.com. Discussions with him and with Hillsborough County (where Tampa is located) are extremely delicate, because the under terms of the Rays' lease on Tropicana Field, they (and perhaps city officials) are evidently prohibited from talking about new stadiums until the lease expires in 2027. That's weird. See fieldofschemes.com again.