June 7, 2016
In Cincinnati over the weekend, the Washington Nationals came within a hair's breadth of being swept by the Reds, who have been in last place in the NL Central Division for most of this season. Nats fans had high hopes that Stephen Strasburg could get his tenth win of the season, but he had to leave in the sixth inning after hurting his leg somehow. (Cramps, apparently.) Danny Espinosa hit a solo homer in the top of the eighth inning to tie the game, 3-3, but in the bottom of the inning Adam Duvall hit a three-run homer off of Shawn Kelley, and the Reds won it, 6-3. That game was interrupted by two lengthy rain delays.
On Sunday, Tanner Roark gave up five runs to the Reds in the second inning, and the situation could not have seemed bleaker. But in the top of the fourth inning, Daniel Murphy and Wilson Ramos both homered, and after Clint Robinson reached base on a single, manager Dusty Baker pulled Roark out and had Stephen Drew pinch hit for him. Drew hit an RBI single, and then so did Ben Revere, and all of a sudden it was a tie game. The Nats scored five more runs over the next two innings, taking a commanding lead. But then in the seventh inning, Jay Bruce hit a three-run homer to put the Reds right back in the game, down 10-8. In the bottom of the ninth, Nats closing pitcher Jonathan Papelbon put himself in a deep hole, giving up a run and loading the bases with nobody out. It seemed almost certain that the Reds would at least tie the game, and probably win, but somehow Papelbon composed himself, and got the next three batters out. Almost as if by miracle, the Nats averted being swept in Cincy, winning 10-9.
The Washington Post noted that Sunday's game was the first victory by the Nationals in Cincinnati since July 27, 2014. By amazing coincidence, I was there! (The Nats won that game, 4-2, and Doug Fister got credit for the win.)
While watching the games on TV, I noticed there is a new scoreboard behind the right field bleachers at Great American Ballpark. That's a shame, as it partly blocks the view of the Ohio River, which is one of the nicest features of that stadium. In any case, that means you-know-what! Stay tuned...
After resting on Monday (their second break in the last five days), tonight the Nationals begin a three-game series against the White Sox, in Chicago. It's young Joe Ross, who's been having a fine year, against the White Sox ace Mat Latos. By yet another amazing coincidence, he was also pitching against the Nationals in the July 27, 2014 in Cincinnati game mentioned above. He played for the Reds from 2012 through 2014, and has bounced around various teams since then.
Tomorrow, Max Scherzer will take the mound for the Nationals. He is having an up-and-down year, so anything is possible. Today's Washington Post called attention to the overall superb endurance of Nats pitchers thus far this year. [The starting rotation has the second-highest average number of innings per start after the Cubs: 6.3 vs. 6.4. They have the most number of pitchers per start, 101, and the most number of starts with at least 100 pitches, 34. Iron men!]
On the subjet of Cincinnati, I recently mentioned that I need to update the 2001-2002 Riverfront Stadium diagram, and have gotten started on that. This past week, unforunately, I also realized that I need to revise ALL of the Comiskey Park diagrams. I am now 98% sure that the foul lines there from the 1930s on (except for brief changes such as 1969) were 347 feet, NOT 352 feet. Stay tuned, sports fans...
For the record, I have updated the Diagram update log * page. I'll try to do likewise at least once a month...
I also created a new page that takes the place of all previous (annual) stadium update archive pages: Stadium diagram updates. It is a "work in progress," presently showing all updates since the beginning of 2013. In due course, it will go all the way back to "The Beginning," in 2003.
* Previously it said "Stadium diagram update" page (like the second page mentioned), by mistake.