August 20, 2012
The New York Mets are not going to be postseason contenders this year, but they played very well in the Washington weekend series nonetheless. "Los Clems" (Jacqueline and I) drove up to see the game in Washington on Saturday, making sure to arrive an hour and a half early in case there was a sellout. Guess what? All we could get was standing-room-only tickets, even though I could see a hundred or so upper-deck seats that remained empty for the whole game. I doubt that those were held by season ticket owners, however, raising my suspicions about [how] all those scalpers along nearby streets got those tickets.
Anyway, we made the most of it, spending the game on a bench in the "Miller Lite Scoreboard Walk" party deck, which was jam-packed with other SRO fans. The game got off to a promising start from the Nats' point of view, with Danny Espinosa and Ryan Zimmerman getting back-to-back singles with one out in the bottom of the first inning, but nothing came of it. For the rest of the game, only three Nationals players got hits, and only one of them (Adam LaRoche) got as far as second base. The Mets' starting pitcher Jonathan Niese must have some pretty good stuff. He went 7 1/3 innings. The game was quite a pitchers' duel, with the Nats' Edwin Jackson having his best outing of the year, striking out 11 batters and only giving up one walk and two hits over the course of seven innings. Unfortunately, one of those hits was a two-run home run by Ike Davis in the seventh inning, just barely clearing the bullpen fence in left field. That provided the only scoring in the game. I was disappointed that Bryce Harper was not in the starting lineup. He entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning, but flied out to center field in his only at-bat.
In the rubber game on Sunday, the Nationals came charging back, as Danny Espinosa and Bryce Harper both hit home runs. Gio Gonzalez held the Mets to only two runs, thus becoming the third National League pitcher to win 16 games this year. Final score: Nats 5, Mets 2. That makes five consecutive series wins for the Nationals, and they are 14-5 for the month of August.
Attendance at Saturday's game was 42,662, the highest all year, and the second highest ever at a game in Nationals Park, which opened in 2008. The seating capacity this year is 41,487, down from 41,888 previously. With sell-out crowds expected for postseason games, the question arises as to whether they are going to install temporary bleachers either in the plaza behind left field, or on the right side of the scoreboard on the party deck.
* so far
That photo and a few other new ones have been added to the Nationals Park page.
I noticed a few minor corrections that need to be done on the Nationals Park diagram, and I will likewise add some details to otherwise-OK diagrams such as PNC Park in coming weeks.
[UPDATE: I should have mentioned another reason for the sellout crowd: There was a free postgame concert by the rock group "Third Eye Blind," which has had a few pretty big hits over the last decade or two. I estimate that well over half of the fans stayed after the game to listen to them. They were really good, so I bought their "Collection" CD today. Somebody in the Nationals marketing office must know what they're doing, drawing a younger fan base to see a ball game.]
[LATE UPDATE: The Nationals got off to a roaring start against the Braves tonight, getting four runs across the plate in the first inning, and then failed to get any more for the next eleven innings, coming oh, so close a couple times. In the bottom of the thirteenth inning, they finally lucked out with a couple weird infield hits and an error called on second baseman Dan Uggla, winning the game 5-4. NATITUDE!]