July 29, 2022 [LINK / comment]
Miracles on grass in Los Angeles!
A few days ago, I wrote that it would be "a minor miracle" for the Nationals to win even one of the games against the Dodgers in Los Angeles. What can a demoralized last-place team expect to do against a team full of superstars such as the Dodgers? Well, there were actually two miracles, as the Nats somehow managed to win the first two games of that road series. On Monday the Dodgers scored first, on a solo home run by Trayce Thompson (who?), but the Nats tied it in the top of the fifth thanks to a leadoff home run by Yadiel Hernandez. Two quick groundouts followed, but then the Nats took the lead on three consecutive singles and a clutch triple by Juan Soto. Starting pitcher Paolo Espino got into a jam in the bottom of the fifth, when Andres Machado came in and shut down the Dodgers. Neither team scored for the rest of the game, as the Nats' bullpen continued to show improvement, and the visitors actually won it, 4-1.
Well, that was just a fluke, right? Nope! The Nats scored two runs in the top of the first on Tuesday, thanks to three singles and some smart base-running. In his return to his former home in L.A., starting pitcher Josiah Gray gave up a solo home run (to Mookie Betts) in the bottom of the first, and the Nats held the lead until the fifth inning. That's when the Dodgers scored two more runs, putting Gray in line for a possible loss. The Nats wasted multiple run-scoring opportunities, and things looked bleak until the top of the eighth. Josh Bell singled, and Luis Garcia came through with one of the most significant home runs of his career, smashing the ball into the right field bleachers to retake the lead, 4-3. One inning latter all heck broke loose as the Nats added four more runs. Final score: Nats 8, Dodgers 3. Unbelievable!
Having matched their season-high three consecutive wins, the Nats started dreaming about a sweep of the Dodgers, which would have been earth-shattering. That was not to be, however, as starting pitcher Patrick Corbin, who had shown signs of improvement lately, simply imploded on the mound. The Dodgers knocked balls all around the field, and before you knew it the score was 6-0. Corbin was replaced by Erasmo Ramirez, and for the rest of the game each team scored exactly one run, for a final score of 7-1. Back to reality. For the series as a whole, the Nats scored 13 runs, compared to 11 for the Dodgers.
After a day of rest, the Nationals welcome the St. Louis Cardinals to Our Nation's Capital this evening, with Anibal Sanchez on the mound. The Nats have a record of 5-17 for the month thus far, and this weekend series will determine whether July 2022 replaces July 2008, when they went 5-19 (.208), as the team's worst month ever. They need to win at least one game against the Cardinals to prevent that from happening.
Sahlen Field update
In light of my recent visit to Buffalo, New York, I felt compelled to update the diagrams for Sahlen Field (pronounced "SAY-len"), which the Toronto Blue Jays* were obliged to call "home" in both 2020 and 2021. (Likewise, you can count on an imminent update to the War Memorial Stadium diagrams.) I thought it would be a fairly easy task, basically just moving the bullpens to right center field to reflect what was done last year before the Blue Jays moved in, but the more I looked, the more changes I found were necessary. For one thing, I noticed from watching videos (local TV news as well as professional ball-snagger Zack Hample) that the the distance markers in the power alleys show the reverse of what sources such as Wikipedia indicate. It is actually 367 feet to left-center field and 371 feet to right-center field. It may not seem like much, but it turned out that the angles of the outfield fence were significantly different than what I originally concluded. Also, I noticed that the original outfield fence was mostly a circular curve except in right field, much like Turner Field in reverse. In addition, I noticed that the fence in front of the grandstand angles back slightly between the dugouts and the foul poles, in order to provide enough room for the bullpens, which were originally in foul territory. As usual, I added the usual "new" juicy details such as gate numbers and "UP" labels for major ramps and stairways. Finally, I created a new map of Buffalo, New York, showing where the baseball stadiums and other pro sports arenas are located, and added a photo montage of notable city landmarks. Enjoy!
I also updated the Anomalous stadiums page, which now has only one entry per stadium in each section, with multiple lines showing the respective teams and dates of special games played therein. There will soon be such special games in Williamsport, Pennsylvania and Dyersville, Iowa...
Rogers Centre renovations!
* Speaking of the Blue Jays, I recently became apprised of the details concerning the major renovations to Rogers Centre that will commence after this season is over. I was previously aware that they intended to completely replace the lower deck, since there is no longer any need to reconfigure the stadium for football games. That will take place after the 2023 season, but what I did not know was the extent of changes planned for the outfield seats. There will no longer be an empty void beyond the outfield fence, and the bullpens will be raised a few feet. Also, the outfield portions of the upper deck will be removed and replaced with new party decks, etc. Those are simply wonderful, and I look forward to seeing a game at Rogers Center after the work is finished. Obviously, this will keep me busy with diagram updates this fall as details emerge. You can take a look at some excellent artists' conception at urbantoronto.ca, and a video at YouTube. Major league hat tip to Mike Zurawski!