April 21, 2016
You can never tell for sure whether a team's performance in spring training is a sign of how well they will play in the regular season, but so far the Washington Nationals are doing just as well as they were last month. While I was out of town (see note at bottom), the Nationals swept the Atlanta Braves in Washington four games straight, and then on the road they took two of three from the Phillies. In Miami, they lost the first game to the Marlins, 6-1, as Tanner Roark had another shaky outing. But the Nats came roaring back on Tuesday, with a team record four (4) home runs in the seventh inning, one of which was a grand slam by Bryce Harper -- his second of the year, and indeed the second of his career! Aside from that one inning, it was a great pitchers' duel. Final score, 7-0. The Nats beat the Marlins 3-1 on Wednesday, and started this afternoon's game one an auspcious note, with yet another Bryce Harper home run (his eighth of the year!) in the first inning. But Max Scherzer was uncharacteristically sloppy on the mound, and gave up three runs in the first inning, and two more after that. Fish 5, Nats 1.
At this rate (8 homers in 15 games), Bryce Harper will hit 86 home runs this year! He shares the home run lead in the majors with Trevor Story of the Rockies, but he has six more RBIs (22) than anyone else. Hot, hot, hot! His .320 batting average is pretty darned good as well. Other Nats worthy of mention are Daniel Murphy, who has an average of .404, and Wilson Ramos, who is batting .314 so far.
With an 11-4 record, this the Nationals have equalled the mark they set in the first 15 games of the 2012 season, but it is the first time that they have won nine of their first ten games. (They won seven of their first ten games in 2012, 2013, and 2014.) The following table (similar to one I posted on April 17, 2012, which showed the first twelve games) compares the Nationals' record during the first [ TEN ]
twelve games for each of their first seven seasons in Washington [thus far] with their cumulative percentage for the year. It's only a rough correlation, but there is a definite pattern:
|Year||First ten games (W-L)||Season total (%)|
In [Cincinnati] this evening, the Cubs crushed the Reds, 16-0, as Jake Arrieta threw a no-hitter. It was the largest margin of victory in a no-hitter in a major league game in over 130 years. Kris Bryant hit two home runs, one of which was a grand slam. See MLB.com. The Cubs and Nationals have been neck-and-neck in the race for the highest winning percentage in the majors, and since the Nats lost today, the Cubs (12-4) are ahead once again. It makes me wonder if there might be some "divine intervention" going on.
The recent lack of baseball blogging was due to the passing away of my father, Alan L. "Cub" Clem, an avid Cubs fan his whole life. At about the same time he died last week, on April 11, the Cubs were on the verge of losing in a no-hitter in their home opener against the Reds, which would have been a disgrace. And then, as if by miracle, they came back after the seventh inning stretch to win the game, 5-3. Coincidence? I wrote and delivered a eulogy for my Dad last Saturday, and posted it on my blog for everybody to read on Monday. "Wait till next year"? It may just be that this year IS next year!