August 13, 2013 [LINK / comment]
Nationals sweep the Phillies
Soon after the Washington Nationals endured being swept by the Atlanta Braves at home last week, they bounced right back and did likewise to the Philadelphia Phillies over the weekend. On Friday night they jumped to an early lead, with home runs by Anthony Rendon and Ryan Zimmerman in the second inning. On the mound, meanwhile, Dan Haren had yet another fine outing, giving up only two runs on four hits over seven innings. The Nats piled on more runs in the later innings to put an end to their four-game losing streak. Final score: Nats 9, Phillies 2.
Saturday's game was almost the opposite, as the Phillies jumped to a 4-0 lead in the second inning. The Nats' starting pitcher Taylor Jordan, who has surpassed expectations of a rookie since being called up in June, struggled to make it through five innings. Led by Jayson Werth, who hit a two-run homer, the Nats staged a five-run rally in the seventh inning, and went on to win it, 8-5. A comeback like that was just the kind of psychological tonic the forlorn Nationals needed to sustain their late-season efforts.
On Sunday, the Nats completely dominated, as Stephen Strasburg pitched a complete-game shutout for the first time in his career. He threw ten strikeouts and kept his pitch count to just 99 -- very efficient! Jayson Werth continued his amazing hot streak at the plate, going three for four, and the Nats won again, 6-0. S-s-sweep! See MLB.com.
Weird walk-off win in New York
In New York, meanwhile, the Yankees' closing pitcher Mariano Rivera blew a save opportunity for the third consecutive game on Sunday, as the Detroit Tigers hit two home runs (solo) off him in the top of the ninth inning to tie the game, 4-4. Miguel Cabrera and then Victor Martinez (the DH) each smashed balls into the right field seats. A deathly pall fell over Yankee Stadium, where the fans aren't used to losing. But then in the bottom of the ninth, Brett Gardner came through with a dramatic walk-off home run, giving Rivera a hollow "win" to his credit. See MLB.com.
That game marked Alex Rodriguez's first hit in a home game since he returned to the Yankees lineup last week. In fact, it was a home run, his first of the season, and the 648th* home run of his career. Many people cheered! Others didn't; it was ... awk-ward! It was also the 1,951st* RBI of A-Rod's career, going ahead of Stan "The Man" Musial and taking fifth place on the all-time list. See MLB.com.
* Subject to future dispute...
Yankee Stadium II update
Seeing that game on TV got me to thinking I ought to get the Yankee Stadium II diagrams up to date, so I went ahead and did so. There were small changes in the grandstand, and a very slight change in the area around the dugouts. There are new first-deck and upper-deck diagram versions, the latter of which shows the entry portals and balconies for handicapped fans along the lateral walkway. Note that the steps to the lower portion of the upper deck only coincide with those entry portals in the curved part of the grandstand behind home plate, and also for a small straight portion beyond third base.
Note that I modified my suggested alternative configuration, keeping the center field distance the same as at present (408), to provide enough room for the re-oriented bullpens. The outfield fences are pushed out by up to 10-12 feet (four rows of seats) in the power alleys, as before, but I decided that my idea of rebuilding the dugouts and box seats to more closely resemble the original Yankee Stadium wasn't practical, so I left those areas the way they are now. The new-fangled "Yankee Stadium" only has 19,700 or so square feet of foul territory, compared to 21,000 (preliminary estimate) in the "classic-era" (1938-1973) configuration of Yankee Stadium. In the final years, it was about 19,400, I estimate.
Hockey in The Bronx
The National Hockey League announced that there will be a hockey match at Yankee Stadium (II) next January. There will also be hockey games at L.A.'s Dodger Stadium (???) and Chicago's Soldier Field, for a total of six total outdoor games this season. See nesn.com; hat tip to Matt Ereth. More diagrams to do ... Will it never end???