August 16, 2006
What a turnaround from Monday night's game! Pedro Astacio, who missed the first half of the season due to injury, more than lived up to his potential on Tuesday, pitching a complete game 2-hit shutout against the Atlanta Braves. Adam LaRoche and Jeff Francouer got singles, and no one else from Atlanta even reached base! Astacio was only two batters away from a perfect game!! See MLB.com. Complete games by pitchers are a rare commodity these days, and Astacio deserves big kudos for that alone. The Nats scored five runs, two of which were unearned (errors!), so this gave the Nationals' battered and bruised bullpen some much-needed rest. The win also got the Nationals back to within 20 games of first place. Not that it matters, but it just looks bad when your team has a "minus twenty-something" listed next to it in the standings. The farthest they fell behind first place last year was eleven games.
Perhaps Brian Schneider's angry, chair-throwing retort to journalists after Monday's loss ("I'm not hurt!") was the kick in the rear that the Nationals needed to get motivated again. He's usually a pretty mild-mannered guy.
According to my (semi-)meticulous records, that was the first complete game shutout in Washington Nationals history. John Patterson apparently came the closest to that feat, allowing three hits in eight-plus innings in a 4-0 win against the Colorado Rockies on July 19, 2005.
A. Young informed me that the actual capacity of Fenway Park is much less than I had indicated. He has been to many Red Sox home games this year, and "The ballpark announcer always [says it's] another consecutive sellout @ 36,000+ at the games I've attended." So what was my source? On Feb. 11 I cited a news item from MLB.com that was clearly quite misleading:
The capacity for this season, according to the fire code, will be 38,805, up from 36,298 last year. After the club finishes all upgrades -- this is the fifth one so far under current ownership -- by the park's 100th birthday in 2012, the capacity is projected to be 39,968.
Perhaps the fire code sets a legal limit to attendance, as opposed to the practical limit. In the box scores published by the Washington Post, Fenway's capacity is listed as 36,392, which is slightly more than what is indicated on the Red Sox Web site, so it might include standing room. I'm going with that for now. Many thanks to Mr. Young for the fact check.
UPDATE: Mike Zurawski points to an August 1 interview at bostonherald.com in which the 38,805 capacity figure is cited by a Red Sox planning official, Janet Marie Smith. If that number is correct, why does the reported attendance at Fenway Park never exceed 37,000?