August 13, 2018 [LINK / comment]
Nats bounce back, then get another punch in the gut
The Nationals faced a big test in St. Louis tonight, and at the very least they proved that they aren't going to let some stupid outrageous twist of fortune get them down. Nevertheless, the end result was the same as the night before in Chicago: an agonizing loss on a walk-off home run by the home team. In fact, the Nats bounced back three times in this game. Twice they took the lead on home runs by Bryce Harper (#29) and Juan Soto (#15), but then the Cardinals staged a devastating four-run rally in the bottom of the eighth inning, and it seemed like Doomsday once again. But thanks to a series of clutch singles by Anthony Rendon, Daniel Murphy, and Matt Wieters in the ninth inning, the Nats tied the game 6-6 and were in position to take the lead again with runners on second and third with only one out. But then Wilmer Difo grounded out, and Adam Eaton struck out. I knew that was their one big chance to win the game, and they blew it. In the ninth inning, Koda Glover came in as closing pitcher, a sign of just how desperate the Nats' bullpen is right now. On a 3-1 count he threw a fastball to Paul DeJong, who hit the ball into the left field bullpen to end the game. And the crowd went wild, yadda, yadda...
So after enduring heartbreaking losses in three of their last four games, will the Nationals bounce back once again? I say yes. Gio Gonzalez starts Tuesday night, and with any luck, he'll pitch as well as he did last week.
Walk-off grand slams
I'm still in a state of shock from what happened in Chicago last night, when David Bote's bases-loaded home run abruptly turned a 3-0 Nats victory into a 4-3 loss. According to MLB, "[O]nly six pinch-hitters on record dating back to 1925 had hit an 'ultimate grand slam,' a walk-off shot with the bases loaded and his club down by three runs. And Bote's pinch-hit ultimate slam was only the third on record to come when his team was down to its final out." I think I heard that it was the very first in which the batter already had two strikes against him. Out of curiousity, I checked my Washington Nationals page, and found that the Nationals have had four walk-off grand slam home runs in their nearly 14-year history:
- May 12, 2007 -- Ryan Zimmerman; WSH 7, FLA 3
- September 30, 2009 -- Justin Maxwell; WSH 7, NYM 4 #
- August 19, 2011 -- Ryan Zimmerman; WSH 8, PHI 4
- August 13, 2017 -- Howie Kendrick; WSH 6, SF 2 (11 inn., 2nd game of double-header)
The hashtag ( # ) symbol indicates that the grand slam reversed what would have been a loss, as opposed to one that was hit when the game was tied.
Zimmerman: NL Player of the Week!
Ryan Zimmerman was rewarded for his recent offensive surge by being named National League Player of the Week. From August 6-12 he had an average of .476, with three home runs and twelve RBIs. Since returning from disabled list on July 20, he has had a .354 batting average. J.D. Martinez of the Red Sox won the honors on the AL side. See MLB.com.
It's really amazing how Zimmerman has gotten over his back problems and resumed his former All-Star level of performance. (The same is true to a lesser extent with Daniel Murphy.) Zimmerman was on the disabled list for over two months, and didn't play any games from May 10 through July 19. He and his team mates sure better stay healthy for the rest of the year, as there just isn't any margin for error left.
Great American Ballpark update
As noted yesterday, I updated the main Great American Ballpark diagram, which now shows the new elevated party deck just beyond the right field corner. That change doesn't affect the lower-deck diagram, and I decided for the time being to use the "full-size" diagram (which shows the adjacent buildings, etc.) to show what the ballpark was like previously. I may add an original (2003) diagram, since the "Pilot House" and fake riverboat beyond center field were not added until a few years later. They were not present when I first saw a game there in 2004.
While I was at it, I also redid the principal "grand view" photo, which is now high-resolution (1200 x 800 pixels rather than 600 x 450 as before). However, I still need to do some coding work before that photo will display full size on that page; in the mean time, you can just click on the image below. Eventually, most of my stadium pages will feature at least one high-resolution photo. Also, it now conforms to the standard aspect photographic ratio (3 x 2 rather than 4 x 3 as before). In order to achieve that, I managed to splice together elements of two different photos I took from the same position. If you look real hard, you might notice the "seams." (See my July 31, 2014 blog post.)