September 16, 2011
And a four-game sweep at that! Thanks in large part to shortstop Ian Desmond, who went five for six last night, the Washington Nationals trounced the New York Mets 10-1 in Flushing Meadows, New York, yesterday afternoon, thereby completing their sweep the Mets. In the three preceding games at Citi Field, the Nats won by only one or two runs. It was only their fourth sweep of the year, having beaten the Brewers, Cardinals, and Mariners in three straight games each, during the first half of the season.
As a result, the Nationals now have sole possession of third place in the National League East, the most competitive division in all of baseball. Not bad! The last time they were in third place this late in the season was August 18, 2005. They maintained a higher winning percentage throughout that season, however, finishing at an even 81-81.
The last time the Nats reached a double-digit run total in a game was exactly three months ago, when they beat the Cardinals 10-0. It was their fifth straight victory, their longest winning streak since the eight game streak in mid-June. The Nats have been notably less successful on the road this season (currently 30-44), making their achievement all the more remarkable.
I plan to join the festivities this evening, when the Nationals return home and face the Florida (soon to be Miami) Marlins. John Lannan will be the Nats' starting pitcher. Stay tuned!
At the beginning of September, it seemed that the final month of the baseball season would be less exciting than in most years, but now things are getting interesting. With less than two weeks to go, only one of the divisional races is highly competitive right now, the AL West. The Phillies, Brewers, Diamondbacks, and Tigers enjoy leads of at least five games, with rapidly shrinking magic numbers. The Yankees have built a 4 1/2-game lead over the Red Sox, while the suddenly red-hot Rays threaten to grab the wild card slot. Angels have slowly crept up on the Rangers, but will need some good luck to close the 3 1/2-game gap. The Atlanta Braves are all but assured of the NL wild card spot. I know the Brewers have been very hot lately, and anything can happen in the postseason series, but it's hard to imagine anyone but the Phillies ending up with the National League pennant.
While reading the Cardinals team magazine which I bought in St. Louis last month, I noticed an ad publicizing Missouri's emerald ash borer control program. Why is that important for baseball fans? Because ash is the preferred wood for baseball bats, which are prone to shattering when substandard material is used. See missouri.edu.
Next time I pass through Louisville, I'm going to make a point to stop at the Slugger museum. There's a giant bat outside the factory, which you can see in this photo.
Next time I pass through Kansas City, I'm going to make a point to stop at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.