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June 9, 2016 [LINK / comment]

Nats' juggernaut stalls in Chicago

If it hadn't been for a momentary lapse by starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez in the first inning, and a couple freak plays later in the game, the Washington Nationals would have swept the Chicago White Sox tonight. The White Sox scored three run in the first inning, after Gio gave up two walks and two doubles. Then he settled down and kept his team in the ball game, getting ten strikeouts over seven innings. Daniel Murphy hit a solo homer in the fifth inning, and in the sixth inning the Nats had runners on second and third with no outs, but then Jose Lobaton was thrown out at home (base-running miscue), and then Jayson Werth grounded into a double play. In the top of the ninth, the Nats were threatening to tie it, with runners on first and third, but Daniel Murphy flew out to end the game. ChiSox 3, Nats 1.

In the first two games of the interleague series at U.S. Cellular Field, the Nats continued their recent offensive outburst, scoring 10 (again!) and then 11 runs. It was only the second time since their 2005 "rebirth" that the Nationals have racked up double-digit scores in three consecutive games, the first being June 26-28, 2012 against the Colorado Rockies. (They actually lost the June 28 game, 11-10 in 11 innings, and didn't even win the series because the Rockies had beaten them on June 25.) After checking my records, I determined that the Nationals' highest run total for three consecutive games was 34, on April 28-30, 2015. (It was WSH 13, ATL 12; WSH 13, ATL 4; and WSH 8, NYM 2.)

On Wednesday night, the Nats scored four runs in the top of the first, two of which came on a home run by Ryan Zimmerman. Later Stephen Drew, Danny Espinosa, and Jayson Werth homered as well. With a nice cushion, Max Scherzer had a fine day on the mound, going seven full innings without giving up a run. The White Sox scored their only four runs in the bottom of the ninth, three of which were the responsibility of relief pitcher Shawn Kelley, who had to be replaced after getting two outs. That was embarrassing. Final score: 11-4.

So, the Nationals concluded a successful road trip, winning six out of nine games. This weekend they face the Phillies, whom the Nats just swept last week, and then the too-good-to-be-true Chicago Cubs, who now have a 41-17 record, ten games ahead of the Pirates and the Cardinals. Talk about a juggernaut!

Tonight in Milwaukee, the New York Mets beat the Brewers, thereby climbing to 2.5 games behind the Nats in the NL East.

Baseball in Richmond

While visiting Our State's Capital (Richmond), yesterday, I stopped at the minor league baseball stadium known as The Diamond, and took some photos. It reminds me that the existing diagram and photos on The Diamond page are pretty lame, so I'll put that on my to-do list. The last time I visited there, September 30, 2004, it was still the home of the Richmond Braves, but they left after the 2009 season and moved to suburban Atlanta -- Gwinnett County, to be more exact. (Why? Because the Atlanta Braves demanded a new city-funded stadium to replace the one built in 1985.) The Diamond is now home of the Richmond "Flying Squirrels," the AA affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. Seriously?

They keep talking about building a new baseball stadium in Richmond, probably near downtown, but there is great reluctance to spend precious public money. And with good reason! I think they can make do with The Diamond for the foreseeable future, adding luxury suites or whatever fan amenities may be necessary to generate more revenue.

The Diamond ground view

Ground level view of The Diamond, home of the Richmond Flying Squirrels.

Posted (or last updated or commented upon): 10 Jun 2016, 1: 56 AM

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