Phillies sweep the Nationals
The Nationals knew they had a tough road trip ahead of them, and it would be hard to keep up the momentum from their spectacular 9-1 home stand, but they thought the first series, in Philadelphia, would be a bit less challenging. But to the shock and consternation of Nats' fans all across the mid-Atlantic region, those pesky Phillies (currently in last place) managed to sweep the Nationals. The last team to do that was the St. Louis Cardinals, on June 13-15.
Monday's game was a pitcher's duel, and the Phillies' A.J. Burnett simply dominated the Nats with his nasty knuckle-curve balls. Anthony Rendon hit a solo homer in the sixth inning, and Wilson Ramos did likewise in the ninth, but it wasn't quite enough. Tanner Roark gave up just two runs over six innings, another fine outing, but was nonetheless charged with the loss in a 3-2 game.
On Tuesday, the Nats' pitcher Gio Gonzalez exited the game after six innings with his team behind, but a solo homer by Asdrubal Cabrera in the top of the eight tied it, 3-3. But the Phillies came right back with a run in the bottom of the inning, and Jonathan Papelbon got another save under his belt.
The Nats were determined to avoid a sweep, and got two quick runs in the first inning on Wednesday. But so did the Phillies in the bottom of the inning. It was going to be a long, hard struggle. An RBI single by Jayson Werth and a rare home run by Denard Span (his second) put the Nats on top by the fifth inning, but then the Phillies roared back with three runs in the sixth inning, knocking Doug Fister out of the game. It was his second straight loss on the mound. Phillies 8, Nats. 4. Ouch!
Tonight the Nats begin a three game series agains the Mariners in Seattle. As of the fifth inning, the Nats lead 5-2, with four home runs off of ace pitcher Felix Hernandez. Wow!
Cubs sweep the Orioles
In a curious parallel to what happened in Philadelphia, the last-place Chicago Cubs beat the first-place Baltimore Orioles in three straight games at Wrigley Field earlier this week. The Cubs had a four-game winning streak going, but their streak came to an end in Cincinnati on Wednesday. Rookie slugger Javier Baez now has seven (7) home runs in only 95 at-bats! His batting average is only .198, however. Well, he'll learn. The Cubs beat the Cardinals tonight, 7-2, their 60th win of the season, putting them at .448, [13.5] games out of first place in the NL Central, and [4.5] games behind the fourth-place Reds. Definite signs of improvement!
Great American Ballpark update
Based on my visit to the Cincinnati Reds' Great American Ballpark on July 27, I have made several revisions to the diagrams. As mentioned before, I noticed a few details in the left field upper deck bleacher section, as well as the existence of a discontinuous seam (or joint?) between the respective portions of the lower deck near the left field corner. (The pitch is steeper on the right side.) But I also realized that the section in right field (known for the unique curved, tapered shape) is smaller than I had previously estimated -- about ten feet shallower. In addition, the upper decks on the third base side had to be adjusted slightly. Those things, plus the task of rendering the profile so that it would more accurately reflect the interior, took more time than planned. But it's done -- for now at least.
I also added ten new photos to that page, but some of them were taken in poor lighting conditions, since it was cloudy most of the time, so I may replace them eventually. I took this one on the way out, just after the bright sunshine emerged. I should have stayed inside another 15 minutes to take more pictures!
League Park is reborn
In Cleveland, the renovated neighborhood park where League Park once stood had its official opening last week. It's a combination playground and historical tribute, paying homage to the Negro League Cleveland Buckeyes. The City of Cleveland is paying $6.3 million for the restoration, which I think was a wise investment in the community. See cleveland.com . I visited League Park in 1998, when it was a crumbling eyesore, but at least a portion of the original grandstand was still there. Now all that's left of the original structure is an exterior brick wall and the ticket sales/office building.
Statistical table updates
I'm slowly getting caught up with various "housekeeping" chores, which are many. Today I updated the statistical tables on the Jack Murphy Stadium, Memorial Coliseum, Candlestick Park, Oakland Coliseum, Kingdome, and Cleveland Stadium pages, making them consistent with the Stadium statistics page, and made a few text corrections as well.
Hopefully, I'll have time to respond to more e-mail inquiries in the near future. With the start of the school semester underway, time is precious right now. In fact, that's why I wasn't able to go up to Washington during their recent triumphant home stand, and share in all the fun.