September 11, 2016
The Washington Nationals are being economical in the effort exerted to win games. This afternoon, they beat the Phillies by a score of 3-2 to take the series three games to one. A single by Trea Turner and a double by Daniel Murphy in the first inning gave them a 1-0 lead that lasted until the seventh inning, when the Phillies tied it. In the bottom of that inning, Anthony Rendon hit an RBI double and later scored on a wild pitch. That extra run proved invaluable, as the Phillies scored again in the eighth inning. Gio Gonzalez got his 11th win of the year, going seven full innings. With Stephen Strasburg out for at least a couple weeks, Gio will play a crucial role in the pitching rotation.
Last night, Max Scherzer pitched a very good game, but he took too many pitches to get out of innings, so he was replaced during the seventh inning. With two runners on base in the eighth inning, Bryce Harper swung hard and hit his 24th home run of the year. It landed in the Nats' bullpen, only a few feet from the foul pole. That was the only scoring play in the game. Final score: 3-0.
With only 19 games left to play in the regular season, the Nationals enjoy a commanding 9-game lead over the New York Mets, with a magic number of just 11. In the Mets-Nats series that begins tomorrow, the Mets will have to win all three games to have any chance at all at capturing the division title.
Things are much more interesting in the in American League East Division, where the Boston Red Sox surged ahead of the Toronto Blue Jays, taking two of three games in the weekend series in Toronto. Yesterday the Blue Jays won, but today the Red Sox won again, as David Ortiz hit a three-run homer which provided the decisive edge in the Red Sox' 11-8 win. It was his 535th career homer, putting him in front of Jimmy Foxx and just one behind Mickey Mantle...
Meanwhile, the Baltimore Orioles are holding their own, tied for second place with the Blue Jays, two games behind the Red Sox. But the big surprise is the New York Yankees, who have played spectacularly ever since they parted ways with Alex Rodriguez and other ancient stars last month. They are now just four games behind the Red Sox in the divisional race, and cannot be discounted as a possible divisional winner. Who would have believed that in July?
Last year after I saw a game at Rogers Centre, the Toronto Blue Jays began a hot streak and ended up winning a divisional title for the first time in over 20 years. This year, after I took a tour of Fenway Park, the Boston Red Sox began a hot streak, moving into sole possession of first place. Coincidence? YOU be the judge!
Yesterday in Miami, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Rich Hill had a perfect game going through seven complete innings, and then was replaced by a reliever. WTF??? Manager Dave Roberts explained that finger blisters might have taken Hill out of service, and the Dodgers can't afford to lose him as the postseason race heats up. See MLB.com. That situation should be familiar to those who follow the Washington Nationals.
I have added thirteen (13) new photos that I took last week to the Citizens Bank Park page, including this (rather cloudy) exterior shot: