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August 31, 2019 [LINK / comment]

Hot August nights (& days): Nats surge ahead

The Washington Nationals began their final series of the month against the visiting Miami Marlins, in the thick of a fierce race for the National League East Division title. Thanks to the wins tonight and last night (see below), their record for the month of August was a phenomenal 19-7, even better than their huge comeback month of June, when they had a record of 18-8. So, let's review the superb month, full of sweeps, near-sweeps, and series that should have been sweeps...

Nationals sweep the Giants

The Nationals began the month out west, dropping two out of three games in Phoenix (see August 5), and then sweeping the Giants in San Francisco. On Monday, August 5, Erick Fedde threw six scoreless innings, and the bullpen did its job, as the Nats won, 4-0. The next day Anibal Sanchez did almost as well, and the Nats won again, 5-3. And on Wednesday Joe Ross came through with six scoreless innings, and the Nats completed the sweep with a 4-1 victory. The deciding blow in that game was a three-run homer in the third inning by Gerardo Parra -- who, in a supreme example of ironic karma, had been released by the Giants in May. That'll teach 'em! smile But the big story of that series (and perhaps of the month as a whole) was the quality of pitching from the lesser-known Nats starters. At a time when Max Scherzer has been ailing, the "rear guard" of the Nats' starting rotation really stepped up to the plate -- or to the pitching rubber, to be more precise.

Nats almost (?) sweep the Mets

Energized by their success in San Francisco, the Nats flew across the continent to New York, where the Mets were ready to pounce. On Friday August 9, Stephen Strasburg took the mound and got through seven innings with a comfortable lead thanks to home runs by Juan Soto and Anthony Rendon, and all seemed well. But then the Mets scored four runs in the top of the ninth, and Sean Doolittle not only blew the save opportunity but took the loss in the 7-6 debacle. frown That was a real punch in the gut, but the effect didn't last long. Indeed, Juan Soto hit a two-run homer in the top of the first inning the next day. The Mets answered with two solo home runs in the 4th inning, however (one was by ex-Nat Wilson Ramos), and then Juan Soto homered again in the top of the eight to retake the lead. Victory seemed close at hand for the Nats, but then the Mets scored twice in the bottom of that inning and won the game, 4-3. On Sunday once again the resilient Nats bounced right back with a rally (3 runs) in the first inning, and one inning later the Mets duly answered with three runs of their own. The game remained tied until the seventh inning, when Asdrubal Cabrera hit a clutch two-out, two-run double. This time the Nats held on to the lead, and won the game, 7-4. They really should have won the first two games and swept the series, but I suppose they could have just as easily lost that third game as well.

Nationals sweep the Reds

The next day (August 12), Nationals returned home to D.C., where they faced the Cincinnati Reds. Home runs by Matt Adams and Trea Turner (who had 4 RBIs) put the Nats over the top in the 7-6 final score. On Tuesday, Joe Ross only gave up one run in 6 2/3 innings on the mound, while home runs by Juan Soto and Brian Dozier helped the Nats win, 3-1. Then on Wednesday the Nats began a historic offensive surge, scoring ten runs in the fifth inning, with home runs by Adam Eaton, Anthony Rendon, and Kurt Suzuki. Stephen Strasburg started that rally with a lead-off single, and earned his 15th win of the year. Just to be sure, the Nats added six more runs in the sixth inning, and held on to win, 17-7, thus sweeping the last-place Reds.

Nats almost sweep the Brewers

On Friday August 16th the Milwaukee Brewers came to town, and with Patrick Corbin making a solid, six-inning appearance, the two RBI doubles by Anthony Rendon were all the offense the Nats needed. Final score: 2-1. On Saturday night the Nats were within inches of winning their sixth straight game for the first time this year, when Sean Doolittle had a virtual repeat of the ninth-inning meltdown he had suffered eight days earlier in New York. Once again, he gave up four runs(Christian Yelich, Mike Moustakas, and Ryan Braun all homered), but this time the Nats scored in the bottom of the ninth to send it into extra innings. Both teams scored once in the 13th inning, but the two-run shot by Marcus Thames in the 14th inning was too much for the Nationals. They scored one in the bottom of the inning, and had the tying run on third base when the game ended. Final score: 15-14. frown But once again, the Nats rebounded from adversity and erupted with eight (8) home runs on Sunday the 18th, tying a record for the Expos-Nationals franchise. Juan Soto and Brian Dozier homered twice. The Nats were ahead 13-0 after three innings, and ended up winning 16-8. smile (It's games like this one that have many people wondering about the baseballs being "juiced" this year...)

It was obvious that something was wrong with Sean Doolittle, and indeed he went on the Injured List after this series. Much as with Max Scherzer, fatigue from an excessive work load just started to grind him down late in the season.

Nats almost sweep the Pirates

After concluding the 5-1 home stand, the Nats headed northwest to Pittsburgh the very next day. Joe Ross was pitching but had to be replaced in the fourth inning, raising fears about the shaky bullpen. Well, this time they held up just fine, as the Nats belted four more home runs and shut out the Pirates, 13-0. It was their third double-digit score in a row, and added up to 62 runs total over the five preceding games. Would they keep up the momentum the next day? Of course not! Stephen Strasburg exited after seven fine shutout innings, and then the promising-but-inconsistent Wander Suero took the mound. Immediately, things fell apart as he gave up three hits and a walk without even getting one out. Daniel Hudson finished the eighth inning, and the Nats lost, 4-1. On Wednesday the Nats bounced back thanks to some fine pitching by Patrick Corbin (0 runs allowed over 8 innings), and some timely slugging; final score: 11-1. Thursday August 22 marked the much-anticipated return of Max Scherzer from the Injured List after nearly a month, but he showed that he is still not 100% better. He was taken out after just four innings, so he didn't get credit for the 7-1 Nats' win.

Nationals sweep the Cubs

The next day (Friday the 23rd), the Nats flew farther west to Chicago, where they had to play the Cubs in a day game on very little rest. (They checked into their motel at 1:00 AM!) Yet somehow they managed the wherewithal to compete, and in the top of the first inning, Adam Eaton hit a solo homer off the Cubs' pitcher Jon Lester. The Nats kept nibbling away, and Lester had to be replaced in the fifth inning, after which the home team was behind 7-0. In his best outing of the year, Nats starter Anibal Sanchez had a one-hit shutout going into the ninth inning, but he finally ran out of gas and was replaced. Final score: Nats 9, Cubs 3.

On Saturday afternoon, the Nats again scored a run in the first inning, and likewise kept building their lead as the game progressed. Joe Ross struggled to contain the Cubs, but only gave up two runs during his 4 1/3 innings on the mound. The bullpen did its job during the second half of the game, preventing any more Cubs from scoring. Howie Kendrick and Yan Gomes each batted in two runs for the Nats, who won that game, 7-2.

In the final game on Sunday, Stephen Strasburg struck out ten batters over six innings, and was in line for the win, BUT... This time the bullpen blowup blame fell upon the shoulders of Fernando Rodney, who gave up a game-tying two-run homer to Kyle Schwarber in the eighth inning. That blew the save and (it appeared) the Nats' chances of sweeping the Cubs, but the relentless visiting team put together a rally in the top of the eleventh inning, and scored the go-ahead run on a bases-loaded wild pitch. An RBI single by Anthony Rendon padded the cushion, and the Nationals did indeed hold on to win the game, 7-5, thereby sweeping the Cubs, who thereby fell into second place behind the Cardinals in the NL Central Division.

Nats and Orioles split two

The Nationals had Monday off, giving them time to relax and revel in their successful (6-1) road trip. That gave them a big advantage in going against their rather luckless regional rivals, the Baltimore Orioles, but somehow they muffed a big chance. In the first inning, Patrick Corbin gave up two hits and two runs, plus hitting a batter, and that accounted for all of the scoring in the entire game. Somehow the Nats only managed to get four hits in the entire game, so they lost, 2-0. On Wednesday Max Scherzer was pitching, and once again he was taken out before he could qualify for the win by pitching five innings. Manager Dave Martinez is being rightly hyper-cautious with the team's superstar pitcher. Fortunately, the offense woke up, led by Kurt Suzuki, who homered and got four RBIs total. Asdrubal Cabrera and Brian Dozier got three hits each, and the bullpen did OK, as the Nats won, 8-4. Thus, the Nats and Orioles split the two-game series.

Nats beat Marlins twice

After another day of rest (on Thursday), the Nats welcomed the Miami Marlins to Our Nation's Capital, hoping for a chance to gain ground in the NL East Division race. Continued hot hitting by Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto kept the Nationals ahead for virtually the entire game until the ninth inning, when it almost turned in to another bullpen disaster. Daniel Hudson gave up an infield single to Harold Ramirez and then a go-ahead home run by Starlin Castro. In an instant, the Nats' one-run lead (5-4) turned into a one-run deficit (6-5), and a dispiriting loss loomed large. But those Nats just refused to quit, and Howie Kendrick led off the bottom of the ninth inning with a single, followed by a Trea Turner walk. After an out and a passed ball, the Nats had runners on second and third with Anthony Rendon up to the plate. In his usual focused but nonchalant way, Rendon poked a single into left field, easily scoring Kendrick and just barely scoring the speedy Turner. A walk-off celebration ensued, as the nervous fans in Nationals Park went wild.

Tonight's game went much more smoothly, as the Nats once again took an early 2-0 lead thanks to back-to-back homers by the "dynamic duo," Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto. By amazing coincidence, it was both players' 30th home run! Juan Soto became the seventh player in major league history to hit at least 30 home runs in a season before age 21, and the first since Mike Trout did it in 2012. Meanwhile, Stephen Strasburg pitched his best game of the year, striking out 14 batters over eight innings, while only allowing two hits. Rendon later hit a second home run, as the Nats won it, 7-0. Believe it or not, Rendon now has the highest batting average in the major leagues (.335), is tied with three other players for the most RBIs (109), and is closing what had been a big gap separating him from the top home run hitters; Mike Trout has 43 and Rendon has 31, ranked 22nd in the majors. So even though a Triple Crown is not very likely, Anthony ought to be given due consideration as a candidate for National League Most Valuable Player.

Since May 23, when they hit "rock bottom," the Nationals have won 57 games while only losing 27; that's a 67.9 percent win-loss record, the highest in the majors. The Atlanta Braves have remained just as hot, however, so the Nats are still 5 1/2 games in back of the NL East Division leaders. The difference from one month ago is that the Philadelphia Phillies have dropped back several games, and are now on the fringes of playoff contention. The Nats have a 3 1/2-game lead in the NL wild card race, and unless the Braves cool off in September, the Nats are most likely to face either the Chicago Cubs or the St. Louis Cardinals in the one-game NL wild card contest.

NOTE: I have updated the Washington Nationals page with win-loss and attendance data for August, as well as entries about memorable games, ninth-inning comebacks and/or blown leads, etc. Note that in the table showing the Nationals' postseason appearances (2012, 2014, 2016, and 2017), I have added new columns to accommodate a possible wild card berth this year...

Wrigley Field (L.A.)

Wrigley Field (LA) tweak

In part to commemorate the Nats' first sweep of the Chicago Cubs in Wrigley Field since their inaugural year (2005, July 1-3), I have revised the diagrams of the other Wrigley Field -- the one that used to be in Los Angeles! Most of the changes are fairly minor, but the positions of the support beams and entry portals have changed significantly. For that reason, when you click on that diagram, it shows you the previous upper-deck version of the diagram (without the roof), rather than the standard version. I have also taken greater care in rendering the hypothetical expanded version of L.A.'s Wrigley Field, and have added a second, less-ambitious expansion based on a scenario in which the Dodgers would have played there for four years while Dodger Stadium was being built, and the expansion Angels team would play there for several additional years, rather than sharing Dodger Stadium. In that case, Angel Stadium would not have been built until the 1970s. Finally, there is a "site today" diagram.

Charlie Manuel is back

Bryce Harper finally broke out of his long slump two weeks ago, hitting a walk-off grand slam that made him a hero in his new home city. What brought about that sudden change in fortune? I'm guessing it was the arrival in Philadelphia earlier that day of former manager Charlie Manuel, who just became the Phillies' new batting coach. Coincidentally, I was in Charlie Manuel's home town of Buena Vista, Virginia earlier this month, and noticed this sign on the west side of town:

Buena Vista Charlie Manuel sign

Sign honoring hometown hero Charlie Manuel, in Buena Vista, Virginia; August 10, 2019.

And speaking of Bryce Harper, he recently took a few days off for paternity leave. Congratulations on becoming a father, Bryce!


August 5, 2019 [LINK / comment]

Nats' slump continues in Arizona

The Washington Nationals' series in Arizona ended up exactly opposite of what had been expected: They won on the day when an emergency replacement pitcher was starting, and they lost on the days when two of their (usually) top-line pitchers were starting. After Joe Ross's disastrous outing against the L.A. Dodgers on July 27 (six earned runs over 4 2/3 innings in a 9-3 loss), his chances against the Arizona Diamondbacks last Friday seemed bleak. But somehow he rose to the challenge and only allowed one hit (and no runs) over 5 1/3 innings. The newly-reinforced Nats bullpen did not allow any further runs or hits, while Matt Adams hit a clutch 2-run single and Juan Soto hit a solo homer. Thus, the Nats won the series opener, 3-0. The Washington Post thinks Ross has earned a spot as the fifth man in the pitching rotation. With Max Scherzer still on the Injured List, that is of vital importance.

On Saturday, in contrast, Stephen Strasburg was pathetically ineffective, not at all the same guy who I saw pitch in Washington on July 28. The Nats scored twice in the first inning, but the Diamondbacks quickly tied it, and then they took a 3-2 lead in the second inning. The D-Backs kept piling on runs, and Strasburg was replaced before he could finish the fifth inning. in a desperation move, manager Dave Martinez had second baseman Gerardo Parra pitch in the eighth inning to save the precious, fragile arms in the bullpen. Parra gave up five runs without getting an out, after which Brian Dozier took the mound and soon gave up a home to Eduardo Escobar, his second of the night. Eventually Dozier got three outs. It was quite an embarrassment, and Anthony Rendon's three-run homer in the top of the ninth barely even mattered. Final score: D-Backs 18, Nats 7.

On Sunday, Patrick Corbin was pitching for the Nats, and somehow he could not get the job done. The Nats took a 2-0 lead in the second inning thanks to a two-run homer by Gerardo "Baby Shark" Parra, but the D-Backs came right back with three runs in the bottom of the inning. The Nats struggled to catch up and finally tied it 5-5 in the top of the sixth, and had the bases loaded with the pitcher up to bat. Much like in the game I saw a week earlier, when Stephen Strasburg hit a bases-loaded RBI single in the bottom of the sixth, I was amazed that Dave Martinez let Corbin bat rather than put in a pinch hitter. This time, it didn't work, as Corbin grounded into a force out to end the inning. Not only that (unlike Strasburg), he couldn't finish pitching the next half inning! It was a huge wasted opportunity that probably changed the outcome of the game, since Wander Suero (who relieved Corbin) gave up a two-run single. The score remained 7-5 until the end of the game.

Thus, as the Nats begin a three-game series against the Giants in San Francisco, they are are tied with the Phillies for second place in the NL East, seven games behind the Braves. For the first time since May 23 (when they hit "rock bottom"), the Nats have only won three of the past ten games. For the first time since May 8, moreover, they have lost three series in a row. Time will soon be a bitter enemy of the Nats, as each game becomes more and more essential to win.


August 1, 2019 [LINK / comment]

Nationals fall short vs. Braves

The Washington Nationals had a golden opportunity to gain at least some ground on the Atlanta Braves in the race for the National League division title this week, but they just couldn't "get 'er done." In Monday's game, the Nats' #3 pitcher, Patrick Corbin, was up against Dallas Keuchel, the mega-star recently acquired as a free agent by the Braves. The Nats took an early 2-0 lead, but the Braves came back and tied it in the sixth inning. In the bottom of the inning, with the bases loaded and on a 2-0 count, Anthony Rendon calmly smashed the ball way up into the left field seats for his third career grand slam. He is simply amazing with his methodical approach at the plate, smacking balls every which way. That gave the Nats a 6-2 lead, and the only additional score was when Charlie Culberson hit a solo homer off Sean Doolittle in the ninth inning. Otherwise, the bullpen did their job efficiently and without angst, for a change.

On Tuesday the Nats were in a bind, since Max Scherzer went back on the Injured List, so Erick Fedde was given starting pitching duties. He did OK at first, and got out of a jam in the second inning (giving up just one run), but things fell to pieces in the third inning when the Braves scored four more. Since the manager Dave Martinez was determined to give his bullpen a rest, he kept Fedde in for another inning, and the Braves scored four more runs. Javy Guerra then came in as a reliever, remaining through the seventh inning, when the Braves scored two more runs. That made the score 11-1, but then the Nationals staged a comeback with seven runs in the last three innings, yielding a more respectable final score: 11-8.

That left the outcome of the series up to the series finale on Wednesday, and with Anibal Sanchez on the mound, the Nats seemed to stand a very good chance of prevailing. He got out of a jam in the second inning, only allowing one run, and when Juan Soto tied the game with a solo homer in the bottom of the inning, the Nats' prospects seemed bright. But the Braves kept chipping away, and had a 4-1 lead after six innings. [Perhaps the decisive play in the game was in the bottom of the sixth, when Trea Turner doubled to the left-center gap. Howie Kenrick, who had just walked, was waved home by the third base coach Bob Henley, and was tagged out by at least five feet. With nobody out, that seems like a dumb move by the coach. Turner never scored either. In the eighth inning Matt Adams (who had rested two days after getting hit in the foot by a pitch on Sunday) hit a solo homer to right field, which was a big psychological lift.] In the bottom of the ninth, the Nats loaded the bases with no outs, and Kurt Suzuki came through with a clutch single to make it a one-run game. Gerardo Parra then grounded into a double play, tying the game, and Brian Dozier struck out, sending it into extras. In the top of the tenth Nats' closer Sean Doolittle gave up a home run to Josh Donaldson, a crushing blow. The Nats got two runners on base with one out in the bottom of the tenth, but neither Adam Eaton nor Anthony Rendon could get them home, so the Braves won it, 5-4.

That put the Nationals 6 1/2 games behind the Braves, and only 1/2 game ahead of the Phillies in the NL East. [The Nats went 15-10 for the month of July (see the Washington Nationals page), losing five of the last seven games, so their win-loss record is now 57-51 (.528) as they head to Arizona and then San Francisco.]

Nats beef up bullpen

On the final day of the summer trading season, the Nationals acquired three pitchers: Hunter Strickland (Mariners, 8.10 ERA), Roenis Elias (Mariners, 4.40 ERA), and Daniel Hudson (Blue Jays, 3.00 ERA). Strickland's numbers aren't impressive, but he is remembered in Washington as the guy who "beaned" Bryce Harper in 2017, starting a big brawl between the Nats and the Giants. In October 2014, also with the Giants, he became the first MLB reliever in history to give up six home runs in a single postseason. It seems to me that those modest acquisitions will do little (!) to change the Nats' bullpen situation. Overall, there weren't many big transactions this week, the main exception being the Houston Astros getting ace pitcher Zack Greinke from the Arizona Diamondbacks.

A few more photos

Here are some more photos from the game on Sunday that might be of interest.

Nationals Park Red Porch, condos

Beyond the "Red Porch" and west parking garage at Nationals Park are new condominium buildings. The one on the left features small trees and a swimming pool [on the roof], while the one on the right is apparently in the final stages of preparation.

Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw

I later noticed in this photo of Walker Buehler walking toward the dugout after being replaced in the sixth, that none other than Clayton Kershaw was there.

Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw, in the dugout.

I noticed in some of the photos a tribute to recently-deceased Dodger Don Newcombe (see February 25) on the team's uniforms: the nickname "Newk" and the number 36 on their right sleeves.

With more and more accidents involving stray foul balls striking spectators in the lower decks of other stadiums, Nationals Park was one of the first ones to extend the protective netting most of the way down to the left and right field corners. It affects visibility only a little, and is on balance a positive development.

Nationals Park extended net 1st base line

The recently-extended net down the first base line at Nationals Park.

From the position I was in, I couldn't get a good photo of Bob Carpenter and F.P. Santangelo, the TV announcers for Nationals games, but I had better luck with the radio announcers:

Charlie Slowes, Dave Jageler

Charlie Slowes (left) and Dave Jageler (right), radio announcers for the Nationals.


July 29, 2019 [LINK / comment]

Nationals crush the Dodgers, avoid being swept

If there was one absolute must-win game for the Nationals this year, yesterday's series finale against the L.A. Dodgers was it. Having lost the first two games of the series (see below), the Nats desperately needed to avoid losing a fourth consecutive game as the NL East division-leading Atlanta Braves headed to Washington. The daunting challenge weighed heavily on my mind as I drove north and east toward Washington yesterday morning, but I was confident that with Stephen Strasburg as the starting pitcher, the Nationals had a very good chance of prevailing. I went for the first time with a friend named Matthew and his son Julian, and we parked on the south side of Audi Field, which opened as the new home of the D.C. United soccer team about a year ago. (I previously saw it in the latter stages of construction.)

Since the temperatures were expected to reach the mid-90s, we chose seats based on proximity and shade: the back of the second deck on the first base side. The location suited us fine, but I forgot about the restricted visibility. Indeed, we missed seeing a couple extra-base hits into the right field corner. I noticed that they are adding an extra level to the roofs on top of the parking garages (right center in the photo below), which will probably further reduce the view of the Washington skyline. The new condo buildings across N Street from those parking garages are open.

NationalsPark-28Jul2019

Nationals Park, in all its glory, during the first inning. (All photos in this blog post are from the Nationals-Dodgers game on July 28, 2019.)

Stephen Strasburg got off to a great start, striking out the first two batters and inducing a groundout by the third batter. The bottom of the first inning featured a dramatic moment in which Adam Eaton (the second batter) struck out and then complained to the umpire about the called second strike, which should have been ball four, and was promptly ejected from the game. Manager Dave Martinez then voiced his objection to the umpire, and he was ejected from the game as well! That probably helped boost the team's fighting spirit.

Dave Martinez, Adam Eaton, umps

Adam Eaton walks away after striking out and being ejected from the game in the first inning, while Dave Martinez objects to the umps. He was ejected as well.

Neither team scored during the first four innings, and the Nats recorded the only two hits. In fact, Strasburg had a perfect game going until the fifth inning, when A.J. Pollock smashed a double into the left field corner. He later scored. But the Nationals bounced right back to take the lead in the bottom of the inning, with a hit by Gerardo Parra and a home run over the scoreboard in right field by Brian Dozier. [Each time Parra came up to bat, they played his theme song, the cute but intensely annoying "Baby Shark."] An inning later the Nationals unleashed a four-run rally on three singles, two walks, and an errant throw to home plate by the first baseman, Joc Pederson. I was amazed that Dave Martinez let Strasburg bat rather than put in a pinch hitter, since his pitch count was almost as high as the temperature -- in the nineties. But Strasburg hit an RBI single, validating the decision. The Nats scored four more runs in the eighth inning, giving them a ten-run lead, but the Dodgers made a token comeback in the ninth inning. Relief pitcher Michael Blazek gave up two walks, got two outs, and then a home run to Corey Seager. That made the final score slightly less lopsided: 11-4. In short, it was a wonderful afternoon of baseball in Our Nation's Capital.

Coincidentally, both starters threw exactly 100 pitches, but that is where the similarity ended. Strasburg got nine strikeouts [with no walks and just two hits] over seven innings, whereas Buehler struck out just three batters over five and a third innings. It's worth pointing out that Stephen Strasburg's superlative performance on the mound and in the batter's box yesterday was strikingly similar to the July 18 game, in which the Nats beat the Braves by the very same score: 11 to 4! It provides a nice margin of safety for the Nationals as their ace pitcher Max Scherzer deals with a lingering tight back.

Nationals - Dodgers 28 Jul 2019

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Anthony Rendon hits an RBI single in the fifth inning; Stephen Strasburg throws his 100th and final pitch to Will Smith (who flew out) in the seventh inning; "Screech" celebrates the Nationals' 56th win of the year; Joc Pederson, Max Muncy, and Cody Bellinger converge on a "Texas League" base hit by Anthony Rendon in the sixth inning; and Juan Soto "rehearses" (in the fourth inning) a home run that he would later hit (in the eighth inning).

I managed to get photos of a few of the new Nationals players, as well as Matt Adams, who played with the Nats for much of last year but was traded away before the game I saw in September. Miniature photos of them are now shown on the Washington Nationals page. I didn't get photos of others who did not play, however: Yan Gomes, Patrick Corbin, Anibal Sanchez, or Fernando Rodney. And since Manager Dave Martinez was ejected early in the game, I never got a good photo of him.

Nationals - Dodgers 28 Jul 2019

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Brian Dozier, Stephen Strasburg, Walker Buehler, Cody Bellinger, Justin Turner, Will Smith, Matt Adams, and Gerardo Parra.

Since the Atlanta Braves lost to the Phillies on Sunday, the Nationals regained one of the two games they had lost in the NL East standings, and are now 5 1/2 games in back.

On our way out of Nationals Park, I noticed a primitive-looking sign for a new craft brewery: Bardo's Beer Garden. Since it is located under the Frederick Douglass bridge, I assume the name Bardo is a play on the name of French actress Brigitte Bardeaux.

The first two games

In the first game of the series (mentioned in my Friday blog post), the Nats rallied to tie in the seventh inning and almost took the lead. But the Dodgers came right back in the eighth inning, as Justin Turner hit a three-run homer off Kyle Barraclough, who had just recently returned to the active roster and was obviously not ready for prime time. Another managerial goof by Dave Martinez, I'd say. The Nats rallied in the ninth inning, but still lost, [4]-2. [CORRECTED]

The outcome of Saturday's game almost seemed like a foregone conclusion, as relief pitcher Matt Grace took the mound as a starter for just the second time in his career, [facing the legendary Clayton Kershaw]. To my amazement, he went two innings without allowing any batter to reach base. But for some strange reason, Dave Martinez replaced him with Joe Ross in the third inning, and all hell broke loose. The first batter he faced, young catcher Will Smith (not the "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air"), hit a solo home run, and three more Dodger runs scored in the fourth inning. Smith ended up with six RBIs in that game, almost single-handedly winning it for the Dodgers. Final score: L.A. 9, D.C. 3.


July 26, 2019 [LINK / comment]

Nats almost sweep the Rockies

The Colorado Rockies came to Washington on Monday to face an amped-up Nationals team that was hungry for even more victories. Unfortunately, the game was postponed because of forecast rain that -- as far as I know -- did not actually take place. This scheduling change put added pressure on the Nationals' roster and may have ended up costing them a game. The Rockies boast an impressive lineup of hitters, most notably their All-Star third baseman, Nolan Arenado. They also include two former Nationals: Daniel Murphy, who signed as a free agent after being traded from the Nats to the Cubs one year ago, and Ian Desmond, who spent a few years with the Texas Rangers. But the Rockies lack pitching (as a team they're tied with the Orioles for the highest ERA in the majors), and that was evident in the first game of the series on Tuesday.

In the Tuesday game, Trea Turner led off with a home run, and Adam Eaton also scored later in the [first] inning. In the second inning [Turner] hit an infield single, and in the fifth inning he hit a leadoff triple, but in neither case did those hits result in any scoring. In the seventh inning, when the Nationals staged an eight-run rally (!!), he hit an RBI double, thus completing the "cycle" for the second time in his career. (The first time was April 25, 2017; see the Washington Nationals page.) By amazing coincidence, [Turner's] previous cycle was also against the Colorado Rockies, but it took place in Coors Field. (Would that qualify as "recycling"? smile) Stephen Strasburg pitched six scoreless innings and got his National League-leading 13th win of the year. Final score: Nats 11, Rockies 1.

In the first of two games on Wednesday, Erick Fedde only lasted four innings on the mound even though he had a low pitch count (79) and only gave up one run. Solo home runs by Adam Eaton and Anthony Rendon tied the game and took the lead, respectively, as the Nats held on to win, 3-2. In the nightcap game, Patrick Corbin had a scoreless six-inning outing, while the Nats took advantage of an error to score a run in the fourth inning. Yan Gomes added an insurance run with a homer in the seventh inning, and the Nats won again, 2-0.

The final game of the series on Thursday was much different. Max Scherzer was pitching for the first time since the All Star break, needing to rest a strained back muscle. He was doing fine until the fourth inning when -- you guessed it -- he gave up a home run with two runners on base. He stayed in through the fifth inning, and would have been exposed to a potential loss had it not been for a three-run homer by Anthony Rendon, tying the game. In the top of the sixth, Matt Grace lobbed an easy pitch to Ryan McMahon, who hit a two-run homer to retake the lead. But in the bottom of the inning, Gerardo Parra tied the game once again with a two-run double. Trea Turner then batted him in to give the Nats the lead. One inning later, a solo homer by Matt Adams gave the Nats a valuable insurance run. But an inning after that (the eighth) the former National Daniel Murphy hit a solo homer, and in the top of the ninth, another former National, Ian Desmond, did the same thing to tie the game. The Nats' bullpen was worn out and depleted, and manager Dave Martinez decided to let Fernando Rodney pitch even though he had pitched in both games on Wednesday, just like closer Sean Doolittle. Rodney obviously didn't have it, and the Rockies took advantage. Thus, the Nats blew a perfect opportunity to sweep the Rockies and draw to within 3 1/2 games of the first-place Braves. (Does that scenario sound familiar?) Final score: Rockies 8, Nats 7. frown

Tonight the Nationals welcome the defending National League Champion L.A. Dodgers to Our Nation's Capital, a potential preview of a postseason matchup, if things continue as they have been. The game underway right now is close (LAD 1, WSH 0) but seemed to be a mismatch as far as starting pitchers go: the Nats' Anibal Sanchez (6-6, 3.80 ERA) faces Hyun-Jin Ryu (11-2, 1.71 ERA). Saturday bodes even worse for the Nats: it's Who Knows Who against Clayton Kershaw. Sunday's game offers the best hope for the Nats to win at least one game: Stephen Strasburg (13-4, 3.37 ERA) against Walker Buehler (9-1, 3.23 ERA). And barring some unforeseen contingency, I'll be there!

Stadium locations: all done!

I finished the Stadium locations page, adding map/diagrams for Montreal, Toronto, as well as Queens and Brooklyn, New York. The Queens map/diagram actually encompasses all of the current and past MLB stadiums in New York, since there isn't much else in Queens with which to compare the location of Citi Field and Shea Stadium, other than Arthur Ashe stadium, where the U.S. Open tennis tournament is played each September.

Queens stadiums

Abstracted map of [Queens and adjacent boroughs] of New York, showing where several stadiums are (or once were) located. Roll your mouse over the image to compare to the Brooklyn map/diagram.

Reorienting "The Murph"

Thanks to a tip from Angel Amezquita, I realized that I had the wrong compass orientation for Jack Murphy Stadium. Center field was not due north, as I apparently thought before, it was actually east-northeast. So, I corrected the directional compass for all the diagrams, but nothing else changed other than making the football gridirons with solid lines.

Coming_Attractions

Coming attractions

But wait, there's more! I have beefed up the "Coming Attractions" box on the right side of the baseball blog page, separating stadiums whose diagrams need to be updated from those I have not done at all. It also shows the remaining "site today" diagrams, and indicates that the map/diagrams are all completed. Once I finish revisions to the remaining stadium diagrams in the next few weeks, I'll get started on long-deferred stadiums -- various stadiums where special MLB games have been played in recent years (most notably, London Stadium), as well as the "antique" wooden ballparks from the turn of the 20th Century, such as Washington Park III in Brooklyn. I just learned for the first time that Washington Park was totally rebuilt with a concrete and steel grandstand when the Brooklyn Federal League franchise was born in 1914. [As you can see in the Brooklyn map/diagram, Washington Park IV] looks almost identical to Weeghman Park, home of the Chicago Whales during their two years of existence, and which later became transformed into Wrigley Field.







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

Between March 2012, when Marlins Park was completed, and September 2014, there were no major league baseball stadiums under construction. It was the first time since September 1986 that this situation existed. But in light of the recent groundbreaking on the future home of the Braves, the table that had been removed from this space is being restored.

Clem's Baseball ~ Stadium construction

Stadium construction
Chronology of the contemporary era: 1986 - present



1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 2020s
1986 1988 1990 1992 1994 1996 1998 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 2012 2014 2016 2018 2020 2022 2024
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
UC 1989: Skydome (Rogers Centre) (construction finished in early June)
plan. UC 1990: Florida Suncoast Dome (Tropicana Field)
planning UC 1991: Comiskey Park II (U.S. Cellular Field, Guaranteed Rate Field)
- planning UC 1992: Oriole Park at Camden Yards
- planning UC 1994: Jacobs Field (Progressive Field)
- planning UC 1994: Ballpark in Arlington (Globe Life Park, etc.)
- planning UC 1995: Coors Field
- planning UC 1996: (Olympic Stadium) 1997: Turner Field
- planning UC 1998: Chase Field (Bank One Ballpark)
- planning UC 1999: AT&T Park (Pac Bell Park)
- planning UC 1999: Safeco Field
- planning UC 2000: Comerica Park
- planning UC 2000: Minute Maid Park
- planning UC 2001: Miller Park
- planning UC 2001: PNC Park
- planning UC 2003: Great American Ballpark
- planning UC 2004: Citizens Bank Park
- planning UC 2006: Busch Stadium III (construction finished in late May)
- planning UC 2008: Nationals Park
- planning UC 2009: Yankee Stadium II
- planning UC 2009: Citi Field
- planning UC 2010: Target Field
- planning UC 2012: Marlins Park
- planning UC 2017: SunTrust Park
Texas Rangers: Globe Life Park II   UC 2020 opening?
STILL WAITING ... Oakland Athletics: (?)  
STILL WAITING ... Tampa Bay Rays: (?)  
1986 1988 1990 1992 1994 1996 1998 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 2012 2014 2016 2018 2020 2022 2024
NOTE: For most stadiums, groundbreaking years are mere estimates. For most stadiums, construction continued through March of the year in which they opened. Two exceptions are Skydome / Rogers Centre (construction finished in early June 1989) and Busch Stadium III (construction finished in late May 2006).

Stadium construction montage

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: PNC Park (Pittsburgh, Aug. 2000), Citi Field (Queens, NY, Oct. 2008), Nationals Park (Washington, DC, Aug. 2007)


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


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