June 30, 2008
Thanks to a home run by Ronnie Belliard with two outs and two strikes in the bottom of the [12th] inning on Sunday afternoon, the Nationals turned a 3 - 2 loss to the Orioles into a 4 - 3 victory. Whew! (Interestingly, the same thing happened when the Nats played the Braves on April 30: The Braves scored one run in the top of the 12th, and the Nats came back with two runs in the bottom of the inning to end the game, 3 - 2.)
I like Belliard, but I wish he wouldn't act like such a hot dog some times. The way he spit and slowly sauntered out of the batter's box after launching his game-winning blast was not the classiest way to win the game.
Thus, the Nats took two of three games from the O's in the home stand and salvaged a 3 - 3 season split with their regional rivals from Baltimore. I have to admit, the Orioles are looking pretty impressive this year, for a change. The team that's really impressive in the AL Eastern Division, however, is the Tampa Bay Rays, who have taken sole possession of first place from the Red Sox!
Thanks to the near-capacity crowds during the inter-league series with the Orioles, the average attendance at Nationals Park for the month of June creeped above 30,000. That represents an improvement over the last two years, but is less than the numbers achieved in 2005, their first year in Washington. (Of course, the fact that they were in first place for several weeks in May and June 2005 added to the fan excitement.) This information is compiled on the Washington Nationals page.
Speaking of big crowds in Washington, over 35,000 soccer fans were across town at RFK Stadium that same afternoon, watching D.C. United beat the L.A. Galaxy, 4 - 1. The featured attraction was former British superstar David "Bend It Like" Beckham.