Rockies sweep the Nationals
The visiting Colorado Rockies got revenge for last week's series in Denver, beating the Washington Nationals in three straight games. For the Nats, it was the same old story of missed opportunities and lackluster batting. They have now lost ten games in a row, the team's longest losing streak since moving to Washington three and a half years ago. The last six of those losses were at home in Nationals Park, setting another record they would rather forget: Previously, the longest consecutive string of lost home games was five, from June 12-16, 2006. With a record of 44-81, the Nationals can still end up with an even win-loss record for the season (81-81, matching the Washington team's best record, from 2005), but only if they win every one of their remaining 37 games. There is little chance of climbing out of the NL East cellar, being 24 games behind the Mets, whereas the fourth-place Braves are 11 1/2 games behind.
Today is a much needed "day of rest" for the Nationals, so even if their losing streak continues tomorrow (in Philadelphia), at least they can't lose 11 days in a row. Hopefully they won't end up with a losing streak that is even longer than their historic ten-game winning streak, June 2-12, 2005. It's a sad way to inaugurate Nationals Park, but other teams with new ballparks have had similar initial experiences and then rebounded. The Cincinnati Reds and the Detroit Tigers are two examples of that.
So what is left for the Nationals to aim for in this dismal season? They ought to strive for a winning record in the remaining games. If they can win at least 19 games, they will avoid losing 100 or more games, which would be shameful in the extreme. That will be a tough goal to reach, however, because most of their upcoming opponents have winning records; the exceptions are the Braves (seven games) and the Padres (three games).
Adios to Ayala
The Nationals front office did relief pitcher Luis Ayala a favor by trading him to the Mets, after the waiver-clearing period was up. He was one of their more reliable members of the bullpen in their first two years in Washington, but his performance declined this year, with a record of 1-8. It seems he has had personal problems over the past year. See MLB.com. The Mets have made good use of several former Nats, including Brian Schneider, Ryan Church, and Endy Chavez, so maybe Ayala will have better luck in the Big Apple.
Now there are only former Montreal Expos on the Nationals roster: Chad Cordero, Shawn Hill, and Nick Johnson. All three of them are on the disabled list!
The mail bag
The Twins have decided to add more limestone to various parts of their new ballpark, including the facade of the "porch" that will hang over right field. That aesthetic touch will add a local flavor to a design that looks very good so far. See startribune.com; hat tip to Mike Zurawski. The fact that there are no light towers or exposed light racks on top of the boomering-shaped roof gives the ballpark a very striking appearance. The lights will be concealed just under the front edge of the roof.