September 9, 2016
Trea Turner has only been playing full-time for a couple months, but even so he is becoming a serious contender for the NL Rookie of the Year Award. (He was just named the NL Rookie of the Month for August; see the Washington Post.) Tonight in Washington, he homered in the [seventh] inning [...], and then in the bottom of the ninth inning, with two outs and two strikes, he crushed a line drive that sailed over the center field fence to win the game in dramatic fashion 5-4. It was Trea Turner's eighth homer of his young career (I had the pleasure to see his first game), and his first career Gatorade shower. It was also the first walk-off homer for the Nationals in exactly four months, when Clint Robinson helped the Nats win by the same score against the Detroit Tigers.
It was a close, tense game most of the way, and then the Nats pulled ahead in the sixth and seventh innings to take a 4-1 lead. It seemed like a nice cushion, but in the eighth inning, rookie pitcher Koda Glover gave up a three-run homer to Cameron Rupp, and the game was tied. That ruined Tanner Roark's chances for a win, so his record remains 14-8. In Atlanta, meanwhile, the Braves blew a 4-0 lead over the Mets, and ended up losing 6-4. So, the Nats' magic number only went down by one tonight.
The night before, rookie pitcher A.J. Cole did fairly well except for two pitches in the third inning that the Phillies knocked over the fence. Peter Bourjos hit a solo shot, and Ryan Howard, hit a three-run homer. Cole went five innings, and the Nats only scored once, on a sac fly in the eighth inning.
Danny Espinosa, who contributed two hits and a run tonight, will be taking a few days paternity leave, as his wife Sara is due any day now. Best wishes!
I added three new photos to the Braves Field page, including the one below and the photo of the old office building shown two days ago. Believe me, there are lots more photos to come for the other three stadiums I visited over the past week... (Speaking of photos, I changed the one in the Wednesday blog post, which now shows much more of Deliverance Evangelistic Church, rather than just the front entrance.)
I also updated the Stadium rankings page, which shows when I visited various stadiums, whether in a game, a tour, or just a casual visit. (I may eventually transfer that information to the My ballpark visits page, where it probably belongs.) The rankings themselves have not changed, for the time being at least.
Hopes were high as Stephen Strasburg made his first start since returning from the disabled list on Wednesday. And then in the third inning, something went wrong, and he had to be replaced on the mound. The next day we learned that he has a "strained flexor mass," which apparently can be healed in prompt fashion with proper treatment, but it probably means that Strasburg will miss all or nearly all of the rest of the regular season. See MLB.com. Just think, two months ago it seemed that reaching or exceeding 20 wins for the year was easily within reach for Strasburg. What a shame.
Frankly, I was worried that Strasburg's return might be premature. He just seems so fragile. So in the mean time, there will be heavy pressure on A.J. Cole and Lucas Giolito to fill the void in the pitching rotation. For some reason, Joe Ross is still not fully recovered from the shoulder injury he suffered in early July. The expanded 40-man roster gives Dusty Baker plenty of flexibility as far as the bullpen, but he is in dire need of consistent, reliable starting pitchers right now. Max Scherzer pitches tomorrow, followed by Gio Gonzalez, and then presumably Giolito. These final three weeks of the regular season may be very anxious ones. Once they get to the post-season, where a three-man rotation is standard, everything will be OK.
Tomorrow night at the Bristol Raceway, the University of Tennessee Volunteers will meet the Virginia Tech Hokies in the "Battle at Bristol," the first college football game ever to be played in a NASCAR venue. Attendance is expected to set a new NCAA record, with up to 150,000 fans. See the Washington Post. I had considered going to that event, but am still recovering from the exhausting, intensive trip up and down the east coast over the past week.
NOTE: Text in the first paragraph was corrected a day later.