July 7, 2012
When the San Francisco Giants had built a 5-1 lead over the Nationals by the seventh-inning stretch on Thursday night, it looked like chances for a series sweep had vanished. But in the bottom of the seventh, Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa hit back-to-back home runs, which sparked a sudden rally, capped when brash Bryce Harper hit an RBI double to narrow the lead to 5-4. Then in the ninth inning, Tyler Moore hit a leadoff double, Steve Lombardozzi reached first base on a bobbled bunt, and then Harper batted in the tying run. With tensions rising high amid hopes for an amazing comeback, Ryan Zimmerman was intentionally walked, and Michael Morse then grounded into a fielder's choice; runner out at home. It was all up to Adam LaRoche, who grounded to second in what could have been an inning-ending double play, but the first baseman couldn't catch the ball, and Bryce Harper crossed home plate to end the game on a delightfully triumphant way. See MLB.com. I was hoping to "read all about it" in this morning's Washington Post (box scores and stories about night games are almost always delayed by a day in the editions that get delivered to us folks out in the hinterlands), but there was nothing at all about that game! Gr-r-r-r. I was miffed.
That game was the first good ninth-inning lead change in a Nationals game this year. In Pittsburgh on May 8, the Pirates won 5-4 on a two-run homer (after the Nats had done the same thing in the top of the inning), and in Cincinnati on May 13, the Reds turned a 6-5 loss into a 9-6 win, thanks to a grand slam by Joey Votto. In both cases, then-closing pitcher Henry Rodriguez blew a save and lost the game. See the Washington Nationals page.
That was also the fourth series sweep by the Nationals this year, and the first sweep in a home series. The other three sweeps were: at Atlanta (May 25-27), at Boston (June 8-10), and at Toronto (June 11-13).
Last night, in contrast, the Colorado Rockies once again got the best of the Nationals. It was a lot like the previous day's game, with the visitors ahead 5-0 going into the bottom of the ninth, whereupon Ryan Zimmerman blasted a solo home run, and the next two batters reached base. This time, unfortunately, there were no game-ending heroics, but at least the Nats showed that they keep fighting till the end. Kudos to the Rockies' Tyler Colvin for hitting two home runs, and to their starting pitcher, rookie Drew Pomeranz, who outdueled the All-Star Stephen Strasburg, who has been struggling lately.
Today's game just got underway... The Nationals still have a 4 1/2-game lead over the Mets in the National League East. If they can win today's game and tomorrow's game, they will go into the All-Star break with a total of 50 wins; only the Yankees and Rangers have reached that plateau so far this year.
After getting distracted once again,* I got back to my planned schedule and completed the corrections and enhancements of the Riverfront Stadium diagrams. The overall stadium is slightly smaller than before, and there are several key details shown for the first time. For example, there is (or was) an indentation two rows deep in the backstop, which I had not noticed before. Also, the lateral aisles are now shown; the one in the upper deck is (or was) especially wide.
FYI, the last update of that diagram was in September 9, 2009 -- "nine, nine, nine," but no connection to Herman Cain. Note that the thumbnail image on that page is the same one as the thumbnail image on this blog page, the reason being that I do not maintain archives of the quarter-sized thumbnail images, only the main, full-size diagrams for each stadium. I plan to incorporate systematic records of such updates on all stadium pages in the future.
I also updated the Stadium statistics page and the Side-by-side diagram comparison page, both of which now include Marlins Park, as well as the Stadium updates (2012) page. More updates to follow shortly...
Thanks to Harry Heller for letting me know the correct seating capacity of Citi Field is 41,922, rather than 45,000 which was apparently a preliminary estimate during construction. The capacity is 122 higher than in the first three years (2009-2011) because of the new outfield seats that fill the void left when new fences were installed there this spring.
* I often come across photos or information that obliges me to make quick, minor-scale corrections on other diagrams, in this case Yankee Stadium. Facebook friend Carl Miller asked me whether the Cubs will win the World Series before I get around to updating to the Safeco Field diagrams. Ouch! Patience, my friend, patience...