May 24, 2009 [LINK / comment]

Nationals finally "git 'er Dunn"

Adam Dunn proved beyond a doubt his value to the Washington Nationals today, hitting two home runs (#13 and #14 for the season) including a grand slam in the [seventh] inning. Dunn set a personal best with six RBIs. Were it not for that one clutch hit, the Nationals probably would have been swept -- at home! -- by the Baltimore Orioles. Instead, they won 8-5, [thus] averting a sweep [and] making sure that starting pitcher Shairon Martis did not suffer his first loss of the season. Once again, Martis pitched a superb game and helped out offensively with a clutch base hit during the sixth-inning rally by the Nats, but then he gave up a home run to Adam Jones in the seventh inning, as the O's retook the lead. Except for [Cristian Guzman and] Ronnie Belliard, all of the Nationals position players got hits today. Closer Joel Hanrahan did his job, striking out two of the three batters he faced in the ninth inning. Nats' fans were brought back from the precipice of despair. Attendance in the latter two games of the series was over 30,000 for the first time in Washington since Opening Day. See

The first two games of this "Beltway Series" were most annoying. On on Friday night, Jordan Zimmermann pitched seven innings and only gave up two runs, but the Nats batters couldn't do any better than that either, so the game went into extra innings. Thanks to a fluke infield hit by relief pitcher Danys Baez, the Orioles staged a rally and won the game, 4-2. On Saturday night it was another pitchers' duel, quite a contrast to the way both teams have been playing lately. Rookie Ross Detwiler allowed only two runs over six innings. In the first inning, center fielder Justin Maxwell robbed Adam Jones of a home run, a truly spectacular defensive play. Those two guys show great promise, offering Washington fans something to hope for in years to come.

Nationals' home stands

Of the eleven games they have played at home since May 15, the Nationals lost nine and won only two. Absolutely miserable! One of the announcers on MASN said it was the Nationals' worst home stand ever, since the franchise began playing in Washington four years ago. To make sure about that, I went through my records, and my findings are summarized below. (I excluded home stands with fewer than six games.)

Year Best home stands Worst home stands
Dates Wins Losses Dates Wins Losses
2005 May 31 - June 12 12 1 Sept. 20-25 1 5
2006 July 21-27 6 0 Sept. 26 - Oct. 1 2 4
2007 July 31 - Aug. 5 6 0 Apr. 2-8 1 6
2008 Aug. 26 - Sep. 3 8 1 Aug. 12-17 1 6

How about those Yankees?

The Yankees have erased memories of April and have become one of the hottest teams in baseball lately. Unfortunately, the same is true of the Philadelphia Phillies, who were visiting the Bronx this weekend. Things looked bleak in New Yankee Stadium on Saturday afternoon, as the home team was behind the Phillies 4-2, with one out in the bottom of the ninth. Then Mighty A-Rod stepped up to the plate and blasted a game-winning home run into the right field stands, tying the game 4-4. Well, "blasted" may be a bit too strong, since just about any minor league player could hit a home run into that part of the park. The next batter Robinson Cano singled, then stole second base, and Melky Cabrera won the game with an RBI base hit. A storybook ending! On Sunday, the Phillies got revenge, winning 4-3 in extra innings.

More Astrodome tweaks

Even though it was only used that way for a few years, I decided to add an expanded (1989) football diagram version of the Astrodome. It shows the completed upper deck and the extra seating sections that were inserted in the corners of the field during the latter years. Also, please note that I revised and enlarged the Astrodome profile closeup diagram that was displayed in the previous blog post. I corrected the number of seating rows in each level, and put the "loge" label on the middle deck, where it belongs, rather than on the suite / press box level. Click on your browser's refresh button to make sure you are seeing the current version.

Rays look to suburbs

The Tampa Bay Rays are giving up on the idea of building a new ballpark in downtown St. Petersburg. The proposed open-air stadium at the site of Al Lang Field (not Al "Land" Field, as it says on on the waterfront is opposed by many local folks, and given the traffic constraints, it would not attract many fans from across the bay. That is why the Rays are focusing their attention on Pinellas County, north of St. Pete and west of Tampa, kind of like Arlington is between Dallas and Fort Worth. (Link via!)

Baseball diplomacy

In hopes of reversing the decision by the International Olympic Committee to remove baseball from future Olympic Games, a "Baseball 101" promotion aimed at foreign diplomats was held at Nationals Park recently. The event was sponsored by the International Baseball Federation, the U.S. State Department, Major League Baseball, the Major League Baseball Players Association, and the Nationals. Ambassador Roble Olhaye from Djibouti threw out the ceremonial first pitch. See