April 10, 2019
The Nationals' two young slugging pals from the Dominican Republic, Victor Robles and Juan Soto, combined to turn another disheartening loss yesterday into a dramatic and memorable triumph. Stephen Strasburg gave up a three-run home run to Bryce Harper in the third inning, and Strasburg left the game after four innings with his team behind, 6-1. With all the bad vibes from the repeated bullpen meltdowns, the Nationals were on the verge of a very disheartening trajectory. Then the Nats started to put a few runs on the board, including home runs by Yan Gomes in the seventh inning and Howie Kendrick in the eighth inning. But the Nats were still one run behind in the top of the ninth with two outs and two strikes on Victor Robles. Things looked bleak. But just then Robles swung at a low pitch and knocked that ball into the left field seats to tie the game! In the tenth inning, Juan Soto crushed a ball into the middle deck down the right field line for a three-run homer. Robles doubled in another run after that, and the Nats won the game, 10-6! Would it be too much to suggest that Robles and Soto may have saved the Nationals' year? So I added that bit of info to the Washington Nationals page.
Tonight, the Nats got on the board three times in the first inning, and they just kept pounding the ball inning after inning. Even without a home run, the scored 15 runs and were on the verge of their biggest shutout score ever, when shaky relief pitcher Trevor Rosenthal took the mound in the bottom of the ninth. It was a perfect situation for the hurler with an ERA of infinity. Once again, Rosenthal had lousy command, and he walked the bases loaded but managed to get three outs while only giving up one run, so now his ERA is "just" 72.
And so, amazingly enough, the Nationals have now won consecutive series against the Mets and the Phillies, and are now just one game behind those two (and the Braves) in the NL East.
In both their wins in Philadelphia, the Nationals' bullpen managed to avoid any further catastrophes, putting multiple zeros on the board. In my recent lament about the bullpen, I left out the closing pitcher Sean Doolittle, whose ERA is zero even though three runs scored thanks to hits he allowed last week. But he helped big time last night, getting the last two outs of the ninth inning, and all three outs of the tenth.
Soon after joining active roster, Howie Kendrick hit a home run, the first pinch-hit home run of his career. Michael A. Taylor is also back in the lineup, but has not yet had a hit.
Another piece of bad news for the Nationals, which I should have mentioned before: Their speedy and versatile shortstop Trea Turner suffered a broken finger while trying to bunt last week, and he will probably be on the "Injured List" (formerly called the "Disabled List") until June.
With an 6-5 record thus far, the Nationals have exactly matched their performance up to the same point last year. The following table (updated from the one I posted on April 21, 2016, when I also noted the passing of my father, Alan L. Clem), compares the Nationals' record during the first ten games for each season since they relocated to Washington from Montreal in 2005:
|Year||First ten games (W-L)||Season total (%)|
Since I recently updated the Kingdome diagrams with some small corrections, I figured I ought to do likewise for the Sick's Stadium (a.k.a. "Sicks' Stadium") diagrams. That is the stadium where the ill-fated Seattle Pilots played in 1969, before going bankrupt and being relocated to Milwaukee as the "Brewers" in 1970. It was supposed to be a temporary stadium during construction of the Kingdome, but that didn't get started until several years later. (The last diagram update for Sick's Stadium was Jan. 22, 2015.) Most of the changes in the diagram per se involved the shape and size of the bleacher sections that were added in 1969. Also, the steps leading up from the concourse between the upper and lower portions of the bleachers are now rendered more accurately than before, and likewise for the steps from the concourse in the grandstand. In addition, the warning tracks in foul territory are thinner than before, and finally, the access ramps to the bleachers in right field are now more accurate, with "UP" labels for clarity.