Nationals climb back above .500
For the first time since May 22-24, the Washington Nationals won two consecutive games last weekend (at home against the Twins), and as they began a nine-day road trip, they did likewise against the Rockies in Denver. That makes two consecutive series wins, a feat they had not managed in over a month, with a win-loss record of 33-32. In both series, there were plenty of signs that the Nats are starting to play better as a team. Does that mean that they have finally turned the corner, and perhaps even started a real winning streak? We'll find out tonight as they play the Cleveland Indians, who were doing pretty well under new manager Terry Francona -- until this month, that is.
So-so day at the park
I chose Saturday the eighth to see a game in Nationals Park, in part because of the postgame concert promotion: Blues Traveler! The game started just fine, as the Nats took the lead on a two-run homer by Jayson Werth in the third inning. (My friend Dave and I arrived too late to see that, unfortunately, due to my failure to take traffic into account when planning a trip.) But the Twins came right back to tie it in the top of the fourth, capitalizing on an error by Adam LaRoche. In the fifth inning, Joe Mauer (average .329) hit a solo homer to left field. In the seventh inning, rookie Anthony Rendon hit a leadoff single, advanced to second on a sacrifice by Roger Bernadina, and scored on a double by Kurt Suzuki. That tied it 3-3, and the game went into the eleventh inning, whereupon Craig Stammen gave up a leadoff walk to Chris Herrmann, and Ryan Doumit later batted him in. In the bottom of the eleventh, Ian Desmond kept hopes alive with a two-out single. Then the promising rookie Anthony Rendon stepped up to the plate, and after fouling off a few pitches with two strikes, he smashed a line drive to left field. Unfortunately, the ball hung up and sailed right into the glove of Josh Willingham (a former National), to end the game. (Another ex-Nat with the Twins: Jamie Carroll, at third base.)
Attendance was 41,587, which is 169 more than the official seating capacity. I'm a little dubious of that, however. The photo below clearly shows large areas of empty seats in the upper decks.
Nationals Park update
Needless to say, I couldn't resist applying some refinements to the Nationals Park diagrams, which now feature the entry portals in the upper deck. There are two new diagram versions: one showing the upper deck without a roof, and one showing the middle deck. Once again, those entry portals proved to be crucial in getting certain details just right.