After two flubs, Nats get back-to-back-to-back-to-back on track
The way things have gone for the Washington Nationals this year, you could almost expect them to find a way to ruin the precious momentum they had gained from their recent winning streak. Indeed, in the first game of the series at San Diego last Thursday, the Nationals blew a big early lead. Howie Kendrick and Brian Dozier both batted in two runs in the first inning, a nice cushion for starting pitcher Patrick Corbin. But the Padres came back with two runs in the second and three more in the fifth inning. With the bases loaded and no outs, Trea Turner fielded a grounder awkwardly and threw it to third base but Anthony Rendon missed it, and two runners scored. The next batter hit a sac fly RBI, which was the final run scored during the game, and thus the Nats ended up losing, 5-4. In game two, Erick Fedde pitched a fine game, only giving up one run until the sixth inning, when the Padres scored two more. But in the top of the seventh the Nats finally got a rally going, and a two-run double by Trea Turner tied it, 3-3. The visitors took the lead thanks to a wild pitch in the top of the ninth, but closing pitcher Sean Doolittle proceeded not only to blow the save but lose the game in the bottom of the ninth, giving up three hits and two runs. Same final score as before: 5-4.
With Max Scherzer pitching on Saturday, the Nats were in a much better position. Max struck out nine batters over seven innings, giving up six hits but no runs. Brian Dozier homered again, and the Nats racked up four runs total for the third day in a row, but this time the Padres only scored one run, and that was in the bottom of the ninth. In Sunday's game, Stephen Strasburg nearly matched the pitching performance of Scherzer, but the score was still 1-1 when he left after the seventh inning. And that is when something utterly implausible happened: pinch hitting for Strasburg, Howie Kendrick smashed a solo home run off the front edge of the upper deck in left field. Then Trea Turner came up to bat and homered to center field. Next was Adam Eaton, and he did the same thing! WOW! The next batter, Anthony Rendon, then hit a homer into the "new" seats in right center field. (Before the outfield in PETCO Park shrank in 2013, that ball would have landed in front of the wall.) Believe it or not: back-to-back-to-back-to-back home runs!!!
- Howie Kendrick (PH)
- Trea Turner
- Adam Eaton
- Anthony Rendon
Thanks to that offensive outburst, Strasburg got his seventh win of the year; the final score was 5-2. The Nationals thus made history, becoming the first major league team to ever hit home runs in four consecutive at-bats more than once. (I wouldn't be surprised if they set a record for the lowest total score of any team that accomplished such a feat: just 5.) The other time was July 27, 2017, which I mentioned in a blog post that focused mainly on my baseball travels and hence neglected to state which players actually homered. Thanks to today's Washington Post, I learned that they were:
- Brian Goodwin
- Wilmer Difo
- Bryce Harper
- Ryan Zimmerman
It is interesting that not one of those players from 2017 is currently on the active roster. Anyway, the Nats salvaged a split in the four-game series. If they can hold on to their lead in the game against the White Sox in Chicago tonight, they are likely to pull within six games of the first-place Phillies in the NL East race. You never know...
Another foul ball tragedy
Two weeks ago a little girl in Houston's Minute Maid Park suffered a head injury when she was hit by a line drive foul ball hit by the Cubs' Albert Almora, who was stricken with grief when he realized what had happened. In response to this awful incident, USA Today summarized the current extent of backstop netting in all 30 major league parks. While such protective nets have been extended at most ballparks in recent years, none of them are as safety-conscious as in Japan's baseball stadiums, where nets extend all the way from foul pole to foul pole. Perhaps I should find a way to depict such nets in my diagrams...
Toledo Mud Hens!
My brother John saw the famed Toledo Mud Hens play a game at their home field last month. Thanks to the TV show M*A*S*H, and to the character "Corporal Klinger," the Mud Hens became one of the best-known minor league teams in the 1970s. In fact, the city of Toledo rewarded the actor Jamie Farr (a Toledo native) by naming a park after him. Fifth Third Field opened in 2002, and is located in a warehouse district of downtown Toledo. One of the interesting features is that historic buildings were preserved in the northeast corner of the city block in which the ballpark was built, and a triangular section of seats is wedged into a tight space in back of the right field foul pole. See www.milb.com. The Mud Hens are a AAA affiliate of the Detroit Tigers, based roughly 70 miles to the north in Motor City.
So, what exactly is a "mud hen"? The team's web site explains the origin of their name, deriving from the avian inhabitants of the marshy land near the ballpark where they originally played in the 1890s. The American Coot, pictured below, is one of several birds that are sometimes called "mud hens."
A few weeks ago, a visitor to this web site kindly offered me the use of some of his photos of minor league ballparks, and while I appreciated the offer, I'm afraid that until I finish the main objective of updating the remaining MLB stadium diagrams and get caught up with other web site tasks, I really can't make much use of them.