Nats rally one day, falter the next
The Washington Nationals are still getting their footing as the 2019 season gets underway, and while they definitely show the potential for championship-level performance, they have also shown a regrettable tendency (like last year) to choke and snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. In the weekend home series against Pittsburgh, they easily could have won all three games, but such was not to be. On Wednesday, their new starting pitcher Patrick Corbin did his best to prove he was worth the $140 million the owners committed to him when he was signed last December. In one of the best outings by a Nats pitcher this year, he struck out eleven batters over seven innings, while only giving up one run. Then in the eighth inning, once again the bullpen threw away a lead. Tony Sipp and Kyle Barraclough gave up two runs, but in the bottom of the inning Anthony Rendon homered for a second time to tie the game, 3-3. The game went to the tenth inning, whereupon Matt Grace and Justin Miller combined to give up three runs (one unearned), and the Pirates won it, 6-3.
The Saturday afternoon game was a pretty good pitchers' duel between the Nats' Anibal Sanchez and the Pirates' Chris Archer, whom I remember seeing pitch for the Tampa Bay Rays in Toronto in 2015. Both pitchers went seven innings, but the visitors were ahead 2-1 going into the eighth inning. That's when Adam Eaton and Howie Kendrick all of a sudden hit back-to-back home runs to give the Nats a 3-2 lead. Sean Doolittle got through the ninth inning allowing just one hit and one walk, thus earning his first save of the year.
On Sunday, Max Scherzer gave up two runs in the first inning, but got back in control and went eight full innings with only one more run by the opponent. The game was tied going into the ninth inning, but relief pitcher Wander Suero gave up an RBI ground rule double to Jason Martin. Behind 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth, the Nats loaded the bases with only one out, but Howie Kendrick was called out on strikes, and Anthony Rendon flew out to end the game. What an awful letdown.
After resting on Monday, the Nats welcomed the San Francisco Giants to town tonight. The Nats scored a run in the second inning, and starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg was doing just fine until the fifth inning, when the Pirates hit two home runs to take a 3-1 lead. They tacked on three more against the relief pitchers before Matt Adams hit a pinch-hit home run in the bottom of the seventh, after which Anthony Rendon hit an RBI single. But that didn't matter, as the Giants ended up with a 7-3 victory. It was the first time since the opening series of the season that the Nationals lost two games in a row. They now have a 7-8 record, and are 2 1/2 games behind the Phillies, who retook first place from the Mets tonight. (Ten runs in the first inning??!!)
Opening day in Korea
You gotta hand it to those Koreans, they really know how to use ultra-modern technology to heighten the excitement at a sporting event. An animated flying dragon swooping around a baseball stadium??!! See the video yourself at MLB.com; hat tip to Bruce Orser.
Riverfront Stadium update
(Stop me if you've heard this one before.) I recently realized that one critical detail was missing from my Riverfront Stadium diagrams, which I had revised last October: the "ribs" that divide the sections of the roof from each other. That was a fairly easy task, but then I noticed a few anomalies that had to be fixed, so I ended up making a few more revisions to the Riverfront Stadium diagrams than I had planned. The bullpens are now shown in detail; the only real correction per se was that the lateral walkway in the upper deck was moved back a couple feet. The upper-deck diagram now shows where the twelve access tunnels were, underneath the seats. The entry portals were not visible from above (assuming you could see through the roof), as normal entry portals are.
I also added two other stadiums with similarly distinctive roofs to my "Coming Attractions" list: Busch Stadium II and Candlestick Park, as well as Three Rivers Stadium.