July 18, 2023
In Wrigley Field last night, the Washington Nationals took an early lead when Jeimer Candelario hit a two-run homer in the first inning, and kept getting clutch RBIs to hold onto the lead. Starting pitcher Mackenzie Gore had a great outing, only giving up one run in the first five innings, but then gave up a two run home run in both the 6th and 7th innings, at which point he was relieved by Mason Thompson. He and Kyle Finnegan (who got the save) both managed to get out of dicey situations, as the Nats beat the Cubs, 7-5.
Tonight, Lane Thomas homered on the very first pitch of the game, reminding me of Kyle Schwarber's penchant for doing just that, both with the Nationals last year and with the Phillies since then. In the 2nd inning, Corey Dickerson batted in two more runs, and it looked like the Nationals had found their groove once again. Patrick Corbin had one of his best nights on the mound, striking out six batters over 5 1/3 innings, but he gave up a solo home run in the 6th inning and left the game with the tying run on base. His replacement, rookie Amos Willingham, allowed four straight batters to get hits in the 7th inning (without getting any outs), and his replacement, Jose Ferrer, gave up two more runs. All of a sudden, what had been a 3-3 tie had turned into a 9-3 romp. In the 8th inning, manager Davey Martinez called Paolo Espino in from the bullpen (which is now situated underneath the bleachers at Wrigley Field), and he just fell apart, giving up 7 hits, walking two batters, and getting only one out. The Cubs scored a total of eight (8) runs in the 8th inning, humiliating the visitors from Washington. The pitiful Nats bullpen surrendered 14 runs in the Cubs' last two innings at bat, as the home team won it, 17-3.
Bad as that was, it was perhaps less painful than the Atlanta Braves' 16-13 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks tonight! The Braves' rising star Riley Adams homered twice and doubled, batting in 7 runs altogether, but it was all for nought, as their closing pitcher Raisel Iglesias gave up 3 runs to the D-backs in the top of the 9th inning. Ouch! So, the Nationals remain 24 games behind the division-leading team from Atlanta.
There has been some drama in the American League East Division lately. The Baltimore Orioles had won 8 games in a row through Sunday, coming to within one game of the Tampa Bay Rays in the divisional race. They had a perfect chance to take first place with a series at home this week, but the Los Angeles Dodgers beat them twice. Meanwhile, the Rays lost the first two games of their series against the Rangers in Texas, so the AL East race remains as it was. That could change when both teams try to avoid being swept tomorrow. And then the Orioles head to St. Petersburg for a four-game series! Let's see if the Tampa Bay area fans respond by showing up at Tropicana Field.
Several new photos have been added to the Minute Maid Park page, including two exterior views and five interior shots such as this one:
I'll probably add one or two more later on. And while I was at it, I added a photo to the Astrodome page, along with the urban "montage" that you see below. That takes care of Houston!