Standing room only; Nats win!
It's been a long time since I've felt sorry for the Boston Red Sox, and even though they currently lead the AL East, I almost did during last night's game in Washington. The first inning must have been excruciating and quite humbling for their recently-acquired veteran pitcher John Smoltz, in his first start of the season. The Nationals scored four runs in the first inning, and could have easily scored even more. Then he settled down, but the Red Sox could not get anything going off the Nats' rookie starter Jordan Zimmermann. Once again, batters toward the end of the lineup provided most of the offensive firepower, and the Nationals won 9-3, averting a sweep. It was a very welcome change of pace: In only two games since June 2 have the Nats scored more than four runs.
Attendance at last night's game was 41,985, the highest ever at Nationals Park, and exactly 97 more than the official seating capacity of 41,888. Attendance at the first two games of the season was only a few hundred less, yielding a series total of 125,032.
Prior to this series, there had only been one game at Nationals Park in which attendance had exceeded 40,000: April 13, 2009, which was Opening Day. The highest-ever attendance for a three-game series in Washington was 134,991: June 16-18, 2006 when the Yankees came to town and lost two games. The highest-ever attendance for a four-game series in D.C. was 162,058: July 4-7, 2005 when the Mets won three games, marking the end of the Nats' "Cinderella (half) season." The following table summarizes home attendance for Nationals games over the nearly four and a half years of their existence:
* So far. I'm still mad that attendance at the inaugural game at Nationals Park last year was 2,000 less than capacity, even though thousands of fans like me tried desperately to buy tickets online. More complete historical data are found on the Washington Nationals page.
A blogger from Arlington named Miles Grant went to the Red Sox-Nationals game at Nationals Park on Wednesday night, and was surprised to see a live Great Horned Owl on display. See The Green Miles.
Inside Tiger Stadium
Two weeks ago I asked if anyone knew whether there were rows of seats behind the second set of support beams in the lower deck at Tiger Stadium. It's so far back there in the shade that it's hard to tell from photos, and demolition photos are inconclusive. (I've only seen the outside of it.) Thanks to Bruce Orser, who came across a great photo of the left field stands at Digital Ballparks, I can definitively answer in the affirmative.
Tigers are on a roll
The Detroit Tigers are currently the hottest team in baseball, winning seven games straight, and now leading the AL Central Division by five games over the Minnesota Twins. The Tigers swept the Cubs in a three-game home series, drawing 42,332 fans to Comerica Park in the game on Thursday. See MLB.com. The Tigers now head to Houston, where the Astros are in fifth place in the NL Central Division.
(LSU) Tigers win CWS
Congratulations to the Louisiana State University Tigers for winning the 2009 College World Series in Omaha, taking two of three games in the final series from the Texas Longhorns. It is at least some consolation for University of Virginia fans that the Cavaliers played a respectable game against LSU, losing 9-5 on June 13.
Tiger Woods slowly heals
In the world of golf, Tiger Woods could not recover from a first-round score of four over par at the U.S. Open in Farmingdale, New York, and Lucas Glover edged out Phil Mickelson to take the 2009 championship. Tiger had knee surgery last year, and is still a bit weak but is playing better all the time. He is currently second in total winnings for the 2009 PGA tour, behind Phil Mickelson. See ESPN.
Tamil Tigers are crushed
In Sri Lanka, meanwhile, the ethnic rebel group known as the "Tamil Tigers" was decisively defeated last month, ending a 26-year civil war. They don't play baseball in Sri Lanka, but rather a quite peculiar sport called "cricket." Coincidentally, the Sri Lankan team was defeated by Pakistan in the International Cricket Championship just last Sunday; see srilankacricket.lk. Interestingly enough, the Sri Lankan national team is called the "Lions"! For the life of me, I cannot make heads or tails of the scoring system. Last March, Islamic terrorists attacked a bus carrying the visiting Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore, Pakistan, killing several policemen and injuring several team members and a coach; see BBC.