Nats rebound, then falter
After the horrendous first two games of the season, in which the Phillies beat the Nationals by a combined score of 19-5, it was a big relief that they managed to eke out a 6-5 victory in the final game of that series on Thursday. In the seventh inning, Ryan Zimmerman hit a bloop double down the right field line, allowing the go-ahead run to score. Matt Capps came through (just barely) in his first save opportunity.
Tonight's game at Citi Field started off well, as the Nats took a 2-0 lead in the second inning, thanks to a triple by young shortstop Ian Desmond. But then starting pitcher Garrett Mock lost control of the situation, and was replaced. The Mets gradually took the lead in the middle innings, and ended up winning by a big margin, 8-2. Rod Barajas and Jeff Francouer each hit two home runs, in spite of gale-force winds. See MLB.com.
Even though the team's pitching is still shaky, the Nats are batting pretty well, especially Pudge Rodriguez and Cristian Guzman. The latter may play right field this weekend.
Pandering to visiting fans
As I mentioned briefly on Wednesday, the people in the Nationals front office went out of their way to make tickets available for Phillies fans this week, hence the large number of visitors. They marketing staff actually sold group packages even before individual tickets went on sale to the public. For an Opening Day game that is expected to be sold out, that is not smart at all. For more commentary, see Yahoo Sports. (Hat tip to Bruce Orser.) Phillies fans have a somewhat rough reputation, which may explain some of the boos for President Obama (!), and I got a taste of that when I attended the Opening Day game in April 3, 2005 -- the very first game ever played by the Washington Nationals.
Dan Steinberg discussed the situation in the Washington Post, owner Mark Lerner recently explained his rationale for broadening the Nats' fan base beyond the Washington metropolitan area:
We see the Nationals becoming America's Home Team. Our city belongs to all Americans, and we believe our team does, too.
I'm sorry, I don't buy that.
Baseball archives fixup
As part of "spring cleaning," I have thoroughly revamped the Baseball (blog) archives, and am doing likewise for the other blog category archives. At the same time, the Baseball blog page has been slightly reformatted as well. In the near future, I also anticipate making the registration process smoother, to make it easier to post comments on my blog pages.