Nats close in on Braves, then choke
It's too late in the season to really matter, but it was heartening nonetheless that the Washington Nationals bounced back from the loss on Friday with two wins against the Braves in Atlanta. In the Saturday game, Juan Soto was the star, as he went one for two, took three walks, scored two runs, and became the first teenager ever to steal three bases in one game; see MLB.com. The Nats won that one, 7-1. And on Sunday, it was a close, hard-fought match as Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon both homered, and the Nats won it, 6-4.
The Nats thus closed the gap from 8 1/2 games to 7 1/2 games, postponing the all-but-inevitable elimination in the NL East race. (To my surprise, the weather wasn't much of a factor in that series, as Tropcial Storm Florence veered northward and barely affected the Atlanta area.)
In Miami on Monday evening, Eric Fedde started off well enough as starting pitcher for the Nats, but had to be pulled in the fifth inning. The Nats took an early lead, puncuated by Victor Robles' first career home run, but Miami came back with multiple rallies and won it, 8-5. The Nats bounced back the next day at least, as Anthony Rendon put on another display of clutch hitting with a home run. Bryce Harper drew five walks, while Stephen Strasburg threw eleven strikeouts. Final score: Nats 4, Marlins 2.
After a day of rest (and travel), Max Scherzer took the mound and was near the top of his game, throwing a total of 13 strikeouts. That put him at 290 for the year, all but guaranteeing that he will reach the 300-K milestone in his next two scheduled appearances this season. But the Mets took advantage of his tendency to challenge batters with predictable fast balls, and hit two home runs off him in the third inning. The Nats tied it 4-4 in the eighth inning thanks to an RBI double by Juan Soto, but the Nats wasted run-scoring opportunities again. In the 11th inning, Ryan Zimmerman hit a lead-off double but the Nats just couldn't get him home. That was sadly typical of this year. In the 12th inning, Jefrey Rodriguez gave up a single and two walks to load the bases, and former National Jose Lobaton hit a sac fly to center field, scoring what turned out to be the winning run. Mets 5, Nats 4.
For the first time this year, I'll be attending a Nationals game later today, and I don't think I have ever done so under such bleak circumstances. The Nationals could get eliminated tonight, and this might be the last time I see Bryce Harper in a Nationals uniform. Just wait till next year?
Mariners extend Safeco lease
I was informed by Mike Zurawski that the Seattle Mariners have agreed to a 25-year extension of their lease on Safeco Field, where they have played since 1999. The city will provide $135 million in subsidies for renovations instead of the $180 million the team asked for. See ballparkdigest.com. That's good news for anyone who opposes the stadium rip-offs of which the "Atlanta" Braves are the most recent example. Safeco Field is unfortunately one of the oversized stadiums of the early Neoclassical ballpark era, others being Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Coors Field, Chase Field, Globe Life Park (or whatever they are calling it at the moment), and of course Turner Field.