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June 16, 2021 [LINK / comment]

Nationals struggle to climb out of NL East "cellar"

The Washington Nationals just emerged from two series against the respectively highest-ranked teams in the two leagues -- the Tampa Bay Rays and the San Francisco Giants, and in some respects they performed surprisingly well for a last-place team. But since it's been a while since my last baseball blog post, let's first do a quick rundown of the last month...

On Friday, May 7, the Nationals arrived in New York City to face the Yankees, and thanks to home runs by Josh Bell, Yan Gomes, Josh Harrison, and Juan Soto, they overcame the hosts, 11-4. It was tied 3-3 until they Nats scored six runs in the eighth inning. It was a great way to rebound after being swept at home by the Braves, but the momentum was ruined by a blown save in Saturday's game. Max Scherzer pitched 7 1/3 solid innings and exited the game with a 2-1 lead. But in the bottom of the ninth, Nats' closer Brad Hand walked the leadoff batter and gave up two singles, thus tying the game. In the tenth inning, the Nats went back ahead, 3-2, but then the Yankees scored twice to win it in walk-off fashion. Final score: 4-3. Why Davey Martinez kept Hand on the mound after having blown the save an inning before is a mystery to me. In the Sunday game, Kyle Schwarber hit a two-run homer in the seventh inning to tie the game 2-2, but Brad Hand gave up the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning, as the Yankees emerged with a series win.

Next came a home series against the Phillies, who won on Tuesday May 11 by a score of 6-2. It was a close game (3-2) until relief pitcher Kyle Finnegan gave up three runs on three hits and two walks in the eighth inning. On Wednesday, Jon Lester was in line for the win after pitching six innings of one-run ball, but Brad Hand blew the save in the ninth inning and then gave up the go-ahead run in the top of the tenth inning. He took the loss in a most unfortunate 5-2 defeat for the Nats. On Thursday the 13th both Kyle Schwarber and Josh Bell hit two-run homers in the first inning, and the Nationals hung on to win it, 5-1. Patrick Corbin struck out nine batters over seven full innings on the mound, a big improvement for him.

Then the Nationals flew to Arizona to play the last-place Diamondbacks. The 17-2 victory on Friday May 14 marked their highest score of the season thus far. Trea Turner, Kyle Schwarber, and Andrew Stevenson all homered, and Max Scherzer pitched five innings to get an easy win. But on Saturday Joe Ross had a tough time on the mound, giving up three runs in the first inning, and eight altogether over four innings. The Nats lost that one, 11-4. In Sunday's game, Erick Fedde had a much better outing, with seven innings of shutout pitching. Yadiel Hernandez homered, and Trea Turner went three for four at the plate in the 3-0 victory.

On Monday May 17th the Nationals began a four-game series at Wrigley Field, against the Cubs, who were in the midst of an upsurge after a slow start to the season. Former Cub Jon Lester took the loss for the Nats in the 7-3 game. On Tuesday Patrick Corbin started but got a no-decision after reliever gave up two runs in the sixth inning. The Cubs won that one too, 6-3. Wednesday's game went much better, as Max Scherzer got the win after pitching five innings in a 4-3 victory. Juan Soto's solo homer in the fifth inning proved to be the decisive score of the game. On Thursday the Nats took a 2-0 lead in the first inning thanks to homers by Josh Bell and Kyle Schwarber, but Joe Ross gave up four runs (two unearned, thanks to errors by Starlin Castro) and was charged with the loss in the 5-2 final score.

The Nationals haven't had much to brag about so far this season, but the three-game sweep of the Baltimore Orioles over the weekend was a small step in the right direction. The series opener on Friday was marked by the return of Stephen Strasburg after being on the Injured List for over a month. His last game was April 13, when he was pulled during the fifth inning in an ugly loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. His sore shoulder seems to be healed, as he went five and a third innings without giving up any runs in a 4-2 victory over the O's. Josh Bell got three hits that night, and Kyle Schwarber doubled twice; both those players have been showing signs of improvement after a disappointing first month with the Nationals. On Saturday night, Jon Lester had a rough first inning, as the Orioles scored four runs. But the Nats immediately came back and got three runs of their own. In the fourth inning, tied the game 6-6, and then Ryan Zimmerman came up to bat with two runners on base. Boom! He launched a home run that gave the Nats a 9-6 lead that they would not relinquish. Final score: Nats 12, Orioles 9. On Sunday, Patrick Corbin pitched just well enough, and a Kyle Schwarber home run boosted the home team in a 6-5 win that completed the sweep. Brad Hand gave up a home run in the top of the ninth, another nerve-wracking performance.

I checked my Washington Nationals annual pages and found that only twice in the 16 years that the Nationals and Orioles have played each other (2006-2020) have the Nationals come out ahead in their interleague series: 2007 (4-2) and 2018 (5-1). The Orioles have prevailed in eight of those years, and in five of those years they have split evenly. Including this year, the cumulative total in head-to-head matchups is 35 wins for the Nats and 45 wins for the Orioles.

On Tuesday May 25th, the Nationals welcomed the Cincinnati Reds to town, with a special pre-game ceremony honoring their former closing pitcher Sean Doolittle, who now pitches for the Reds. Max Scherzer took the mound for the Nats and once again performed superbly, striking out nine and giving up just two runs (both homers) over seven innings. Unfortunately, his team mates failed to score any runs until the ninth inning, when Josh Bell hit a solo homer to cut the visiting team's lead in half. And that was it. Final score: Red 2, Nats 1. The Wednesday night game was halted in the middle of the fourth inning, and after a three-hour wait, they decided to suspend the game until Thursday afternoon. Very annoying for the fans!!! The Nats eventually won that one, 5-3. Because of the double-header, the originally-scheduled game was cut to seven innings, and the Nats lost it, 3-0.

After the Friday game was rained out, the Nats began a series against the visiting Milwaukee Brewers with another double-header on Saturday. Patrick Corbin gave up all four runs in the afternoon game, while all the Nats could manage was a solo homer by Kyle Schwarber. In the nightcap, Jon Lester pitched solidly for almost six innings, but the bullpen faltered and the Nats lost again, 6-2. On Sunday Max Scherzer took the mound and did his job, striking out ten batters while giving up just two runs over six innings. His team mates failed to score at all, however, and then 3-0 loss sealed a series sweep at the hands of the Brew Crew.

The Nats then flew to Atlanta to play the Braves, losing the series opener 5-3. Joe Ross took the loss once again. The next day (June 1st), however, the Nats ended their losing streak even though Stephen Strasburg had to exit the game in the second inning due to a tight shoulder or back muscle. He may be out for another few weeks, a big blow to the Nats' hopes of a mid-season rebound. But the bullpen rallied and kept the Braves under control while Ryan Zimmerman and Juan Soto led a big offensive campaign in the 11-6 win. The Nationals also won the next day, 5-3, thanks to solid pitching by Jon Lester and homers by Juan Soto and Yan Gomes. But in the series finale, the offense fell flat again, and the Nats lost, 5-1. Patrick Corbin took the loss.

The Nationals flew to Philadelphia on Friday, June 4th, and beat the Phillies 2-1 in a classic pitchers' duel in which Max Scherzer (nine strikeout) came out on top. The Nats lost on both Saturday (5-2 final score, loss charged to Joe Ross) and Sunday (12-6 final score, loss charged to Austin Voth).

After a much-needed day of rest (and airline travel), Nats arrived in St. Petersburg, Florida. The first-place Tampa Bay Rays beat them in the first game, 3-1, but the Nationals bounced back in the second and final game of the series with a much-needed 9-7 extra-inning victory. Ryan Zimmerman homered twice, and Juan Soto homered as well, but those heroic feats were almost squandered by the bullpen. The Nats scored twice in the tenth inning, after which Brad Hand blew the save (once again), and in the eleventh inning Starlin Castro doubled in the go-ahead run and later scored himself. Whew!

Back in Washington at long last, Thursday night's game against the Giants was rained out, so the four-game series began on Friday instead. Max Scherzer had to leave the game in the first inning, due to a pulled groin muscle. It was a bad omen, but nevertheless the bullpen pulled together in one of their best performances ever. Sadly, the Nats just couldn't get hits when they needed them, and they lost, 1-0. On Saturday afternoon, Kyle Schwarber homered in the first inning, while Erick Fedde had a great outing, striking out seven batters in five innings. Final score: Nats 2, Giants 0. On Saturday night, a newby by the name of Jefry Rodriguez took the mound for the Nats, and did just fine, pitching four scoreless innings. Neither team scored until the eighth inning, when the Giants got two runs and the Nats came back with one run. Final score: 2-1. On Sunday, Joe Ross finally delivered a top-notch performance, striking out nine batters over eight innings. It was an amazing turnaround compared to his earlier outings this year. Two more home runs by Kyle Schwarber were more than enough to seal the 5-0 victory, as the Nats earned a split with the top National League team. If things had gone just a little bit different, the Nats could have swept all four of those games!

On Monday, the Nats and Pirates were locked in a close game with the score at 2-2 until Kyle Schwarber hit a solo homer to take the lead. Yes, he did it again!! Last night, Yan Gomes hit a grand slam in the first inning (the 67th in team history), giving the home team a 5-0 lead, and the Nationals went on to beat the Pirates 8-1. Patrick Corbin had another fine outing, after struggling earlier in the season, and came within two outs of pitching a complete game. The Nats will go for a series sweep later this afternoon, and I'll be there!

Pythagorean winning percentages

An article in the latest edition of the Society of American Baseball Research Journal compared the actual winning percentages to the Pythagorean-predicted winning percentages over the past century-plus. So, I set out to make those computations for the Washington Nationals, extracting the annual run totals for each year since 2005. (I have kept annual spreadsheets with the scores and home attendances for all Nats' games since the very beginning.)

Wash. Nats winning pct 2005-2021

NOTE: This table will be updated at the end of the 2021 season; the preliminary version displayed only included games through June 9, when the actual winning percentage was 43.1% and the Pythagorean-predicted winning percentage was 44.3%.

Two more no-hitters!

The pace at which no-hitters are occurring this year is rather stunning. On May 18, Spencer Turnbull of the Detroit Tigers no-hit the Mariners in Seattle, and the very next night, Corey Kluber of the New York Yankees no-hit the Texas Rangers in Globe Life Field. That makes six (6) no-hitters so far this year! None have been registered in June, as far as I know, but the rising trend of no-hitters has gotten widespread attention.

Baseball in Washington

I happened to be in Washington on June 6, when the Nationals were out of town, but I drove past venerable old RFK Stadium on the way downtown, and took a few photos in the mid-afternoon, including this one. Lighting conditions would be better in the morning. RFK Stadium is now essentially vacant, and may be demolished some time in the next year or two. With so many great baseball, football, and soccer games having been played there, it's sad to contemplate RFK Stadium's eventual demise.

RFK Stadium, Capitol, Washington Mon. 2021

RFK Stadium, U.S. Capitol, and Washington Monument, as seen from East Capitol Street on the east of the Anacostia River, June 6, 2021.

May 7, 2021 [LINK / comment]

Nats surge to first place, fall to last

In the evenly-matched National League East Division, only a small margin separates the best teams from the -- ahem -- others. The Washington Nationals swept the Miami Marlins at home last weekend, earning them a share of first place, and after the Mets lost on Monday (when the Nats were resting), they briefly held sole possession of first place. But then the Atlanta Braves came to town, beating the Nationals three times in a row. As a result, the Nats have fallen to fifth place, and the precious momentum they had built in recent weeks ground to a screeching halt.

In last Saturday's game, Patrick Corbin had his best outing of the year, giving up just two runs over seven innings. Yan Gomes homered, and Josh Bell finally broke out of his lengthy slump, batting in four runs. Final score: Nats 7, Marlines 2. On Sunday, Max Scherzer took the mound and soon laid to rest any fears that his previous outing (April 27 vs. the Blue Jays) might portend a trend. He pitched a full nine innings, with nine strikeouts, and did not allow a run until the final frame when Isan Diaz hit a leadoff homer. For the Nationals, Ryan Zimmerman provided all of the offensive firepower, with a three-run homer in the third inning. Nats 3, Marlins 1. Sweep! smile

On Tuesday night, the Braves came to Washington, and the first five innings were a classic pitchers' duel between the Nats' Joe Ross and the Braves Huascar Ynoa. Ronald Acuñ hit a solo homer in the fifth inning, and Ross was relieved an inning later as the Braves got a rally going. But Tanner Rainey completely lost control, as the Braves' pitcher (Ynoa) hit a grand slam to take a 6-0 lead. The Nats scored once in the seventh inning, and that was it. On Wednesday, the Nats' young Erick Fedde gave up home runs in the third and fourth innings, and the Nats' attempts to catch up fell short, as the visitors won again, 5-3. In the Thursday afternoon series finale (broadcast by YouTube), Jon Lester had another decent outing (his second this year), but the Braves got clutch RBIs when they needed it, while the Nats let multiple run-scoring opportunities slip by. It didn't help when, with two outs and two runners on base, the umpire called Victor Robles out on a very low pitch to end the eighth inning. Manager Davey Martinez only objected briefly; he should have really let that umpire (Nick Mahrley) have it. Ryan Zimmerman led off the bottom of the ninth with a line drive double to the left field corner, but he (or his pinch runner) never made it past third base as the next three batters were each out. Final score: Braves 3, Nationals 2. Sweep! frown

Two more no-hitters!!!

In Seattle on Wednesday, Baltimore Orioles' pitcher John Means threw a no-hitter to beat the Mariners 6-0, and it would have been a perfect game if a batter (Sam Haggerty) had not reached first base on a third strike wild pitch in the third inning. Means now has a 4-0 record, with an ERA of 1.37 -- fourth best in the majors!

And in Cleveland earlier this evening, Wade Miley went the full nine innings without allowing a hit as his team (the Cincinnati Reds) beat the Indians, 3-0. Miley is now 4-2 with a 2.00 ERA. It's a very odd trend that so many no-hitters are happening this year, even more than in recent years...

Superdome super-duper update


Prompted by having seen it with my own eyes two months ago, I made some major revisions to the (Mercedes Benz)* Superdome diagrams. While reading up on the history of the architectural marvel, I came across an important figure: the diameter of the dome is 680 feet. I realized that the existing diagram -- which I did in 2013 -- was too big (it indicated a dome diameter of 700 feet), so I set out to do some corrections. Along the way I realized that there were multiple seating configurations for football games in the pre-2011 era when the lower deck was movable. So, there is now a "standard" football diagram as well as a "modified" one, which seems to pertain to Super Bowls or perhaps other special games. There are now separate lower-deck diagrams for football and baseball, highlighting how the lower deck was shifted for the two sports, as well as an "opaque roof" diagram that shows the eight gates (A - H) and the adjacent streets. For a long time I was uncertain about the precise orientation of the football and baseball fields, but by using my Fodor's/USA Today Four Sport Stadium guide, some online sources, and my own photos, I was able to reach the proper deduction. Elementary!?

* The ten-year stadium naming rights contract with Mercedes Benz ends this year, and I am not aware if a renewal is expected. Given that Mercedes Benz has a stadium naming rights contract with another NFL team (the Atlanta Falcons), my guess is that they will let this one slide.

Stadiums in New Orleans

While not of great importance to baseball per se, my interest in the other stadiums was piqued by having visited New Orleans for the first time a few weeks ago. Almost all sports fans are familiar with the Rose Bowl, Orange Bowl, and Cotton Bowl stadiums (as opposed to the events bearing those names), but I only had a vague idea about the traditional venue of the Sugar Bowl. Tulane Stadium, a massive oval with a small upper deck, hosted the Sugar Bowl from 1935 until 1974, after which the Superdome opened, and it also hosted the Super Bowl in 1970, 1972, and 1975. Tulane Stadium seated over 80,000 fans, which was far more than Tulane University's football team would ever need, so it was obviously expanded specifically for the Sugar Bowl. After the Superdome opened in 1976, it was abandoned and then demolished in 1980. Tulane's football team played in the Superdome from 1976 until Yulman Stadium was built (just north of where Tulane Stadium had previously been) in 1999.

What about baseball? Zephyr Field was built in the western suburb of Metairie, Louisiana, in 1997, and was home of the New Orleans Zephyrs until the team changed its name to the Baby Cakes in 2017. At the same time, the stadium was renamed "Shrine on Airline," its previous nickname. Unfortunately, New Orleans bore the brunt of the big contraction of minor league teams, and the franchise relocated to Wichita after 2019. As a result, that relatively new 10,000-seat stadium now is essentially abandoned.

Previously, New Orleans had a minor league team called the Pelicans from 1901-1959 (AA), and in 1977 (AAA). For whatever reason, baseball just never developed a strong presence in the Big Easy, which suggests that the whole idea of making the Superdome adaptable to baseball use was probably a Big Mistake.

Finally, the Tulane University baseball team has played at Turchin Stadium (subsequently appended with "Greer Field at"), just north of Yulman Stadium, since 1991.

New Orleans stadiums

April 30, 2021 [LINK / comment]

Stadium capacity changes, 2021

Now that fans can return to the ballparks and see baseball games in person, it's a good time to look at how much the seating capacity has changed in various MLB ballparks this year. (Capacity changes last year were irrelevant, since only one stadium -- Globe Life Field -- had any fans at all.) Because so many stadium names have changed in recent years, I decided to include the previous names for several of them to avoid confusion. Just like three years ago (October 3, 2018), I have compiled the current-year seating capacity figures for each of the 30 MLB stadiums and calculated changes in capacity compared to 2020. There was only one change greater than 1,000 (PETCO Park), highlighted in yellow.

Stadium name
(current & recent)
2021 capacity2020-2021
nominal change
Apparent approx.
attendance limit
Dodger Stadium56,000030%
Rogers Centre (ex-Skydome) #53,5060NA
Coors Field50,4454740%
Chase Field48,68616725%
T-Mobile Park (ex-Safeco Field)47,929-1420%
Yankee Stadium II47,309025%
Oakland Coliseum46,8478225%
Oriole Park at Camden Yards* 45,971 *020%
Angel (ex-Anaheim) Stadium45,51746730%
Busch Stadium III45,494-4430%
Citizens Bank Park42,792-85520%
Great American Ballpark42,319030%
Citi FIeld41,922020%
Oracle (ex-AT&T) Park41,915020%
American Family Field (ex-Miller Park)41,900030%
Wrigley Field41,649025%
Nationals Park41,313020%
Minute Maid Park41,168050%
Truist Park (ex-SunTrust)41,084-6550%
Comerica Park41,083-21420%
Guaranteed Rate Field (ex-U.S. Cellular)40,615020%
Globe Life Field40,300060%
PETCO Park40,209-2,23640%
PNC Park38,74738520%
Target Field38,544-10525%
Kauffman Stadium37,903025%
Fenway Park37,7552412%
loanDepot park (ex-Marlins Park)36,742020%
Progressive (ex-Jacobs) Field34,788-43725%
Tropicana Field* 25,000 *-2525%
Sahlen Field (ex- Pilot Field; # temp. for Blue Jays)16,600?NA??
TD Ballpark # (temp. for Blue Jays)8,500NA20%

SOURCE: Box scores published in the Washington Post.
* Some stadiums announced a reduction in capacity without really taking out any seats. Until the 2010s, Oriole Park at Camden Yards had 48,290 seats, with room for a few hundred more "standing room only" fans. 48,876. Tropicana Field's 1998 capacity was 45,000, but has been reduced sharply several times in the years since then. The same used to be true of Oakland Coliseum, but it now includes virtually all the baseball-suitable seats.

Thus far in the season, the allowed attendance at most ballparks seems to be about 25 percent, but that should rise to 50 percent or more by the second half of the season. The extreme cases seem to be Globe Life Field Minute Maid Park 41,168 0 50% Truist Park, and Fenway Park, where a maximum of 8,000 fans (about 20 percent) can see games, due to a recent spike in covid-19 cases there.

Nats gradually improve

The Washington Nationals ended the month of April on an upbeat note, as Kyle Schwarber hit a walk-off home run for the second time in his brief tenure with the team. (The first time was April 16.) It was the opening game of a series against the visiting Miami Marlins, and Jon Lester (finally released from covid-19 quarantine) did just fine in his first start as a National: five innings pitched without giving up a run. But neither team could score a run for the first nine innings. The Nats' closer Brad Hand returned to the mound in the tenth inning, the first time he has pitched more than one inning with the Nationals. He gave up a two-out RBI single. In the bottom of the inning, leadoff hitter Kyle Schwarber crushed a ball that landed half-way up the second deck in right-center field. Game over! It was Schwarber's second walk-off home run of this month -- quite an impressive debut performance. Ryan Zimmerman did likewise in July 2010, hitting walk-off homers on the 6th and 31st of the month.

After the disastrous opening game of the series on Monday, April 19th, the Washington Nationals bounced back and found a way to beat the visiting St. Louis Cardinals twice, thereby winning the series. Patrick Corbin had a solid outing, but Tanner Rainey gave up two runs in the seventh inning, and a similar bullpen meltdown by the Cardinals allowed the Nats to retake the lead in the eighth inning, thus coming out on top, 3-2. Wednesday was a day game, and Max Scherzer put in a dazzling performance, with 9 strikeouts over six innings. Alex Avila had the only RBI of the game: Nats 1, Cards 0.

On Friday the Nats played the Mets, and Jacob deGrom dazzled fans in Citi Field, striking out 15 Nationals batters in a complete game shutout. Erick Fedde pitched fine for the Nationals until the fifth inning, when the Mets scored three runs. Final score: NYM 6, WSH 0. The Nationals shook off that rude slap and came back with a 7-1 victory the next day, as Joe Ross pitched very well for six innings. But in the Sunday game, Patrick Corbin had a "relapse," giving up four runs before being replaced during the fifth inning. The Nats lost that one, 4-0.

After a day of rest, the Nationals flew south to Dunedin, Florida, where the Toronto Blue Jays have been playing their home games this season. (They expect to move into Buffalo's Sahlen Field in the near future.) Max Scherzer was pitching, and even though he had run support (two homers by Trea Turner and one by Yadiel Hernandez), he somehow came unglued and gave up seven runs (two unearned) over five innings. A two-run homer by Ryan Zimmerman in the seventh inning closed the gap, but the Nats ended up losing 9-5. On the next day, strangely enough, Erick Fedde pitched one of his best games ever, giving up just one run over six innings. Home runs by Josh Harrison and Josh Bell (whose batting average had fallen to just over .100) propelled the Nats to an 8-2 victory.

And so, after tonight's 2-1 victory over the Marlins, the Nats now have a 10-12 record, in a virtual tie with the Braves and Mets, just one game behind the Phillies. Of the 11 home games, average attendance is a paltry 6,660. The Washington Nationals page has been updated accordingly.

Soto on the Injured List

Just a few days after Stephen Strasburg was placed on the ten-day Injured List, Juan Soto likewise went on the IL. Both players are reported to be improving and should be available for duty soon. Soto is pretty durable, playing 47 out of the 60 games last year, and 150 games of the Nationals' world championship 2019 year. Strasburg, on the other hand, is often fragile.

Busch Stadium II

Busch Stadium II tweak

At the request of Angel Amezquita, I modified the Busch Stadium II page, replacing the old "overlaid" diagram (which showed both the current AND previous Busch Stadiums in color) with a new "site today" diagram in which the previous Busch Stadium is rendered with light gray lines, allowing the current-day streets and major buildings (in particular, the "Ballpark Village") to be shown. Please bear in mind that these are mere approximations based on photos I have seen! I am still working toward a systematic way of rendering stadiums (especially those that no longer exist) in their respective neighborhoods.

No-hitter by Mad Bum?

In the second game of a double-header today, Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Madison Bumgarner pitched seven full innings without giving up a hit, as his team won 7-0. This came after The fact that almost all serious baseball fans would dispute the validity of his accomplishment as a real "no-hitter" is one more reason why MLB should abandon that expedient measure after this year is over. Obviously, they can't change the rules in the middle of the season.

April 19, 2021 [LINK / comment]

Nationals struggle to rebound from roster crisis

The Washington Nationals managed to triumph over adversity on their belated Opening Day, nearly two weeks ago, briefly raising hopes that they would pull together and put themselves on a winning trajectory. Max Scherzer gave up four solo home runs, two of them to the Braves' young slugger Ronald Acuña, but struck out nine batters and left the game after six innings with the score tied. It was 5-5 in the bottom of the ninth when the Nats' young slugger Juan Soto hit an RBI single, his first career walk-off hit. What a huge relief that was!

After that storybook finish, however, the Nationals fall flat, losing five consecutive games. The Nationals and Braves played a double-header the next day, and in the first game the artificial seven-inning limit prevented the Nats from making a late comeback, as they lost 7-6. In the second game, Stephen Strasburg pitched six scoreless innings, but then the reliever Tanner Rainey gave up a two-run homer to rotund pinch-hitter Pablo Sandoval, formerly of the Giants and Red Sox. That was the only run-scoring play of the game. Narrow margins!

Then the Nats hit the road, and [in Dodger Stadium] on Friday, April 9 Joe Ross excelled as starting pitcher, going five scoreless innings. In the sixth inning Justin Turner hit a solo homer, which was the only run-scoring play of the game. Deja vu! On Saturday, Patrick Corbin's first outing of the year was disappointing: six earned runs over four and a third innings. The Nats lost that one 9-5 in spite of getting 15 hits. Sunday was a classic matchup between Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer, and thanks to some guy named Zach McKinstry (who got all the RBIs), the Dodgers won it, 3-0. In all three games of that series in which they were swept, the Nats out-hit the home team.

Next came a visit to Busch Stadium in St. Louis, and badly-needed reinforcements arrived just in time: Kyle Schwarber, Josh Bell, and Josh Harrison were all released from covid-19 quarantine, making a big impact. The Nats won 5-2 on Monday April 12, thanks to a home run by Andrew Stevenson and three hits by Juan Soto. On Tuesday Stephen Strasburg gave up eight runs (one unearned) and had to be taken out during the fifth inning. He was seen rubbing his shoulder in the dugout afterwards, and later expressed displeasure that a TV camera was pointed at him. Relief pitcher Luis Avilan did no better, however, and the Cardinals ended up with a lopsided 14-3 victory. But on Wednesday Joe Ross had another fine outing, and the Nats won the game 6-0, taking their first series of the season.

The Nationals flew back to Washington for a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks the very next day, and once again Patrick Corbin badly underperformed. In fact, he only lasted two innings, giving up ten runs (one unearned). The Nats' batters erased the early 3-0 deficit and took the lead in the bottom of the first inning, but that advantage was quickly squandered. It was obvious that Corbin had lost all control when he hit a batter with a pitch with the bases loaded, but as is often the case, Nats' manager Davey Martinez was reluctant to take him out. Result: he gave up a grand slam to the next batter, Andrew Young. Final score: D-backs 11, Nationals 6. Corbin later seemed unable to explain what had gone wrong on the mound, not a good sign. Friday night was Max Scherzer's third start of the year, and he showed big improvement: ten strikeouts over seven innings, passing the immortal Cy Young in lifetime strikeouts. But neither team could score a run until the bottom of the ninth, when Kyle Schwarber crushed a ball that landed on the concourse behind the second-deck seats in right field. It was estimated to have gone 463 feet, but from what I can tell, the horizontal distance was only 400 or so. Maybe 440 feet? Anyway, it was the Nats' first walk-off home run of the year. Welcome to Washington, Kyle Schwarber! The Nats also won on Saturday (6-2) thanks to home runs by Yan Gomes and Ryan Zimmerman, and solid pitching by Erick Fedde. But on Sunday came the bad news that Stephen Strasburg was going on the Injured List after an MRI revealed inflammation in his (right) pitching shoulder. So, the burden of starting pitcher fell upon Paulo Espino, a little-known veteran from Panama. He rose to the occasion, giving up just two runs over four-plus innings, but the bullpen gave up runs in the last three innings, and the D-backs won the finale, 5-2. The Nationals only runs came on solo home runs by Trea Turner; the other bats fell silent for some reason.

Tonight's game against the visiting St. Louis Cardinals turned into a complete debacle, as Joe Ross somehow lost his command, or his composure, or both. He gave up ten runs over four-plus innings, and the visitors took the series opener, 12-5. Paul DeJong's grand slam in the fifth inning pretty much sealed the deal. Ross had previously shared honors for the lowest ERA in the majors (0.00), but that number suddenly jumped to 5.87.

Two actual no-hitters in one week!

On Friday, April 9, Padres' pitcher Joe Musgrove threw nine hitless innings against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Field in Arlington, becoming the very first Padres pitcher ever to achieve a no-hitter. He got nine strikeouts in the 3-0 victory. It was an especially sweet moment, since he grew up in the [San Diego] suburb of El Cajon and rooted for the Padres as a youth.

And on Wednesday night, April 14, White Sox pitcher Carlos Rodon had a perfect game [against the Cleveland Indians] going into the top of the ninth inning, whereupon he hit the batter [in the foot], Roberto Perez. At least he salvaged the no-hitter. It was a little bit like June 20, 2015 when Jose Tabata of the Pittsburgh Pirates blatantly put his elbow in front of the ball with two outs in the top of the ninth, ruining Max Scherzer's bid for a perfect game. (Do I carry grudges? Yes, sometimes. frown)

In my April 3 blog post, I noted that there had been two "Almost two no-hitters" during the first couple days of the 2021 season. If these trends continue, Major League Baseball may decide to go ahead with the proposal to move the pitching rubber back by a foot or so. I would prefer that they don't do so; can't they just lower the mound like they did in the late 1960s?

Blue Jays go south again

Canada has been experiencing an upsurge in coronavirus cases, and restrictions on international travel raise the possibility that the Toronto Blue Jays may not play any games in their home at the Rogers Centre until mid-summer or even later. Because this situation was not anticipated, they have been forced to play their "home" games at TD Park in Dunedin, Florida, [their spring training facility] located north of St. Petersburg. (Its capacity is 8,500.) So just like last year (see July 24), they Blue Jays must "migrate" south, but much farther this time. Their "home away from home" last year, Sahlen Field, is being prepared for an extended stay by the Blue Jays, including moving the bullpens to beyond the outfield fence, and adding various amenities for the fans and players. So, I will have to do another version of that diagram and (at some point) do a new diagram for TD Park, as well as update the Anomalous stadiums page.

April 6, 2021 [LINK / comment]

Belated Opening Day in D.C. (?)

Five days after the planned Opening Day in Washington (April 1) was postponed due to the coronavirus, there finally will be a game in Nationals Park later this afternoon -- barring more bad news, that is. The Nats and Braves were scheduled to play yesterday at 4:00, but there were so many last-minute roster changes that the Nats needed more time to get ready. Although it is still unknown exactly which players tested positive for covid-19, we do know which ones are under quarantine for either testing positive or having been in close contact with those people. Both catchers -- Yan Gomes and Alex Avila -- are quarantined, forcing the Nats to scramble and sign the unemployed veteran catcher Jonathan Lucroy on an emergency basis. Also available to play as catcher for the Nats: Tres Barrera. Others who are off the roster for the time being: Kyle Schwarber, Josh Bell, and Josh Harrison. Here is the expected starting lineup for the game, which will begin in about two hours:

The good news is that the first five batters are all experienced players, and even without the missing players mentioned above, the Nats still have a pretty solid lineup. Hernan Perez was already on their 25-man active roster as a backup player, but I'm not familiar with him. The young Andrew Stevenson has shown great promise, and this will be his chance to shine. Lucroy (age 34) hasn't had much time to practice, but he has a decent record: .274 batting average with 4,121 career at-bats, mostly with the Milwaukee Brewers. Hopefully he will adjust quickly.

All-Star Game is moved to Denver

MLB announced late yesterday that the 2021 All-Star Game will be played in Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies in Denver. It will be the second All Star Game in Denver, the first being in 1998 -- about six weeks before I was there! That page has been updated accordingly, as has the Baseball chronology (general) page. Meanwhile, political partisans on both sides are using this occasion to accuse the other side of divisiveness and hypocrisy, etc. etc. As a certain former president often commented, "Sad!"

All Star Game logos

The above official logos from the 2005, 2008, 2009, 2012, and 2018 All-Star Games were extracted from the photos of the respective stadiums whose photos were displayed in my blog post three days ago -- except for 2008. I didn't realize until taking a closer look at my photos a day later that the All-Star logo was indeed displayed inside Yankee Stadium (behind the left-center field bleachers), as you can see when you roll your mouse over the image.

NOTE: I have wavered back and forth on how to punctuate "All Star": with or without a hyphen. The standard seems to be with a hyphen, so I'll try to stick to that from now on. For the record, however, in all five of the logos above, there is a star between "All" and "Star," so perhaps an asterisk (whose root word is "star") would be better. "All*Star"? Whatever...

Packed house in Texas

The very first Texas Rangers game ever played [with fans in the stands] at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas yesterday was a "virtual sell-out," with 38,238 fans; total seating capacity is 40,300. [Frankly, they could have easily sold 2,000 more tickets and made it a real sell-out if those empty seats weren't all in high-price luxury suites.] Many people were apparently not using masks as they were urged to do. Last year's World Series and National League Championship Series games were played there, with sharply reduced attendance allowed.

From October through December, a table of all Postseason game scores is shown here.

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Baseball books:

See Sources for a brief description of the above books. Also see more specialized books on the Ebbets Field, Wrigley Field, and Yankee Stadium pages.

Coming Attractions

General diagrams
to be updated:

General diagrams
yet to be created:

City map/diagrams
yet to be created:
"Site today" diagrams
yet to be created:

(Includes major revisions, minor revisions, pages with additional diagrams, and future stadiums that are under construction. This is only a rough guide; the sequence is subject to change.)

Stadium construction

Soon after the 2017 opening of the new home of the Atlanta Braves (SunTrust Park), construction began on the future home of the Texas Rangers, a very brief lapse. The last significant lapse occurred from March 2012 (when Marlins Park was completed), September 2014 (when construction on SunTrust Park began). Before that, there was at least one major league baseball stadium under construction continually from September 1986 until March 2012. Both the Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays hope to get public funding for a new stadium, but near-term prospects are bleak.

NEW! Stadium construction page, with a chronology of the past 30 years.

Research department: