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September 18, 2017 [LINK / comment]

Catch 22!! Indians set AL winning streak record

Thanks largely to Francisco Lindor, who hit a game-tying RBI double off the left field wall with two outs and two strikes in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Cleveland Indians extended their historic winning streak yet again last Thursday night. In the 10th inning, Jay Bruce hit a walk-off RBI double to the right field corner, thus sparking yet another burst of euphoria. Indians 3, Royals 2. Almost the same situation arose the following night, when Francisco Lindor was up to bat in the bottom of the ninth with a runner on first. But this time he struck out, and thus the Great Streak of 2017 came to an end. The previous AL winning streak record (20 games) was held by the Oakland A's, in 2002. And it's not like the Indians just squeaked by with some of those wins, they were totally dominant: From August 24 through September 14, they scored 142 runs (average 6.4 per game) while their opponents scored just 37 runs (average 1.7 per game). For more, see MLB.com.

There has been some discussion about whether the New York Giants' 26-game winning streak in 1916 should be counted, since there was an intervening tied game during that streak. I was originally inclined to say that the tie would invalidate the winning streak. If I understand correctly, however, that tied game was not officially counted, being replaced in effect by the game played the next day.

Indians win AL Central

On Sunday afternoon, the Indians beat the Royals 3-2, taking three out of four games in that series and clinching the American League Central Division title. Thanks to their big winning streak, they are now 1 1/2 games ahead of the Houston Astros in the race for best record in the AL. They had a rather lackluster first half of the year, but since the All-Star break they have been charging ahead, motivated to get back in the World Series and make up for that oh-so-close defeat versus the Cubs last year.

Astros win AL West

In Houston, meanwhile, the first home start for newly-acquired pitcher Justin Verlander was a momentous one, as the Astros clinched the AL West Division with a 7-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners. It's the Astros' first division title since 2001, when they were in the National League Central Division. In 2005, when they went to the World Series, they qualified as a wild card team. They were also a wild card in 2015, when they were beaten in the ALDS by the eventual World Series champion Kansas City Royals. To complement their slugging power, they have a solid and well-balanced pitching staff, led by Dallas Keuchel, now in his sixth year.

To refresh your memory, see the Postseason scores page.

Dodgers' losing streak ends at 11

Meanwhile, the L.A. Dodgers put an end to their 11-game losing streak on Tuesday by beating the Giants in San Francisco by a score of 5-3 -- but just barely! The Giants had the bases loaded with only one out in the bottom of the ninth, but closing pitcher Kenley Jansen (whose usual role was obviated by circumstances for most of the month) struck out Buster Posey and Nick Hundley to end the game. The Dodgers won again on Wednesday night, and then had a day off while traveling to Washington.

Dodgers take two from Nats

The Dodgers-Nationals series in Washington was being hyped for weeks in advance as a preview of the postseason, but it didn't really live up to the promise. In the first two games, the Nats had lower-rung starting pitchers, part of the new six-man rotation aimed at preserving those precious throwing arms for the games that really count in October. On Friday night, Edwin Jackson (who has been surprisingly effective in some games) gave up a solo home run in the first inning, and six more runs over the next two innings, and that was pretty much it. The Nats' bats were virtually silent, and the final score was 7-0. On Saturday afternoon, A.J. Cole took the mound and promptly gave up three early runs before he settled down. Anthony Rendon homered, and the Nats had a rally going in the ninth inning, but fell short. Dodgers 3, Nats 2.

Then on Sunday night, broadcast nationwide on ESPN, Stephen Strasburg was the starting pitcher, and tensions were high as the Nats badly needed to avert being swept at home. In the second inning, Michael A. Taylor misplayed a long fly ball to center field, and the Dodgers scored a run. Strasburg was nearly flawless for six full innings, but his streak of consecutive scoreless innings pitched ended at 34. What a pity. In the bottom of the sixth, Anthony Rendon drew a walk, Daniel Murphy smashed a single up the middle, and Ryan Zimmerman came up to the plate. In one of the most clutchest of clutch situations all year, he got hold of one and put that ball over the scoreboard in right center field. Three-run homer! In the seventh inning, Anthony Rendon drove in Jayson Werth on a double, and in the eighth, Ryan Zimmerman homered again (solo), and then Adam Lind hit a two run homer! It was Zimmerman's 32nd and 33rd homer of the year, tying his career-best year of 2009. What an inspiring comeback win that was! Nats 7, Dodgers 1.

Overall, it was an evenly matched series, with an aggregate score of 11-9 in favor of the visiting team. The Nats wasted an opportunity to close in on the Dodgers in the race for the best record in the National League. Once Bryce Harper* returns to the lineup in October, the balance will shift in the Nationals' favor. They have three rock-solid starting pitchers plus a vastly improved bullpen, while the Dodgers have Clayton Kershaw (who lost tonight pitching against the Phillies!) and a few others who are question marks. That concluded the Nats' ten-game home stand with an even 5-5 record. It was the Nats' 90th win of the season, and with a record of 90-59 right now, their chances of reaching 100 wins for the season are less than 50-50, despite the fact that all their remaining opponents have records well below the .500 mark.

* Bryce took some batting practice swings on Sunday, and has been jogging around the outfield track, which is a very good sign. No need to rush him back into action. When he returns, it will have a positively electrifying impact!

Braves take two from Nats

When the Braves arrived in Washington last week, it seemed like a meager challenge for the Nats. Oops! On Tuesday, Gio Gonzalez made a couple bad pitches and paid dearly for it, giving up five runs over five innings. The Braves tacked on three more runs later on, and won 8-0. The next day Max Scherzer was pitching, so you had to figure that was an easy win. Wrong! Despite a growing pitch count, he insisted on staying on the mound into the seventh inning, and before you knew it, a tight 2-2 game had turned into an 8-2 blowout. (One of those runs was charged to Brandon Kintzler.) Ugh. After the game, Max tried to rationalize his stubbornness by saying he needed the experience of going deep into a game. Frankly, I don't buy it. Then on Thursday night, Tanner Roark got things back on track, pitching into the sixth inning before the Braves scored any runs. Clutch hits by eldster Jayson Werth and youngster Victor Robles proved decisive in the Nats' 5-3 win. And that's how the Nats averted a sweep at the hands of the Atlanta Braves.

Michael Taylor, deja vu

Michael A. Taylor's recent inside-the-park grand slam (see September 10) reminded me of similar occurrences in which he was involved two years ago. On September 8, 2015 he smashed a bases-loaded single up the middle, but the Mets' center fielder muffed it, and Michael made it all the way home. (The Nats lost the game, however.) Then at a game I attended on September 25, 2015, the Phillies' Aaron Altheer did the exact same thing to center fielder Michael Taylor that Michael Taylor had done to the Mets two weeks earlier: a four-run single / E-8!

To add to the chain of amazingly eery coincidences, it was Aaron Altheer who hit the grand slam against Clayton Kershaw tonight, helping the Phillies beat the visiting L.A. Dodgers!

Almost a no-hitter!

You can't get any closer than this: In Detroit yesterday, Tigers pitcher Matthew Boyd went for 8 2/3 innings before the first White Sox player got a hit: Tim Anderson doubled to the gap in right-center field, spoiling the fun for the home crowd. Boyd's statistics are only fair: a 6-10 record this year with a 5.33 ERA. The last Tigers pitcher to throw a no-hitter was Justin Verlander (traded to the Astros on August 31), which was six years ago.

Football in southern California

Both of the recently-relocated pro football teams in Los Angeles lost yesterday, and both were playing at home. At Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the L.A. Rams (which moved there last year from St. Louis) lost to the Washington Redskins 27-20. In the industrial suburb of Compton (as in "Straight Outta"!), meanwhile, the L.A. Chargers (which just moved there from San Diego) lost to the Miami Dolphins, 19-17. In both games, there were many empty seats, but the Chargers at least filled a greater proportion of the 27,000 capacity of StubHub Center, which is the home of the L.A. Galaxy Major League Soccer team.

The departure of the other pro sports team suggests that QualComm (Jack Murphy) Stadium has entered "Limbo," according to my criteria. Or maybe not! Over 43,000 fans watched the San Diego State Aztecs (now ranked 22nd in the country) defeat Stanford, and according goaztecs.com, their home is now called "San Diego Stadium." According to the usually-reliable wikipedia.org, in contrast, it is supposed to be called "SDCCU (San Diego County Credit Union) Stadium." Go figure.

More hurricane havoc

More baseball "fallout" from Hurricane Irma: The Miami Marlins played a "home" series against the Milwaukee Brewers in Miller Park, after it was determined that their own city was not yet ready for a big sporting event. The Marlins were playing as the "home team," batting last, very weird. Apparently Miami received more damage than St. Petersburg, the opposite of what I had expected. I had thought that the Tampa Bay Rays would have to relocate their series, since that urban area was almost directly in Irma's path of destruction. The dome at Tropicana Field looks rather flimsy to me, and I thought some repairs to it might be necessary. The Marlins are out of postseason contention, whereas the Brewers are in hot pursuit of the Cubs, so from their point of view, this uncompensated series relocation was a big gift.

NOTE: I recently realized that the playing field in Marlins Park is essentially on the same level as the ground outside. That should have been a no-brainer. Most of Miami is flat and very low elevation, and because of the risk of flooding, basements are virtually non-existent. That means I need to update the profile portions of the diagrams for that stadium soon...

In any event, I had to update the Anomalous stadiums page once again, adding a new line for Miller Park.

Finally, I updated the Baseball home (intro) and the My ballpark visits pages with an account of my 2017 activities, along with new jumbo-sized photos of Marlins Park and Wrigley Field.

Nats' magic number: 0

September 10, 2017 [LINK / comment]

Nationals clinch NL East Division, again!

The Washington Nationals held on to beat the visiting Philadelphia Phillies this afternoon, 3-2, thus taking three games out of four in that series. In all four games, the margin of victory was exactly one run, which seems like a surprisingly even matchup but probably reflected the fact that they Nats were making heavy use of players recently called up from the minor leagues. Today's big hero was Stephen Strasburg, who struck out ten batters and only allowed two hits (and no runs) over eight innings. It's the first time in Expos/Nationals franchise history that a pitcher has pitched at least six innings without giving up a run in four consecutive games. Michael A. Taylor hit a solo homer in the eighth inning, providing an insurance run that ended up being decisive when the Phillies scored twice in the top of the ninth.

That win brought the Nats' magic number down to one, pending the outcome of the Marlins-Braves game in Atlanta. The visitors had a 8-5 lead going into the bottom of the ninth, and it seemed almost certain that the Nats would have to wait until at least another day to celebrate. But the Braves staged a three-run rally to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth, and two innings later a relative unknown named Lane Adams hit a two-run walkoff homer (only his second career home run) that snuffed out the Marlins' final scant hopes of winning the division. (It was all but a mathematical impossibility.) As a result, for the second year in a row, and for the fourth time in the last six years, the Nationals are champions of the National League East Division! As you can see in this chart, they were getting closer to their goal every day so far this month, either through their own wins and/or losses by the current second-place team, the Miami Marlins.

Washington Nationals magic number 2012-2017

NOTE: I only keep track of magic numbers on days when the Nationals played games, hence the gaps in the data lines above. There are no gaps in 2017, since the Nationals played every day from September 1 to 10.

[ The Nationals' lead over the Marlins is an astounding 20 games, with just 19 games left to play. According to ESPN, this is the earliest date on which a team has clinched a division title since 2008, when the Angels easily won the AL West. (Their regular season record was 100-62, but they lost to Boston in the ALDS.) ]

[ Several hundred fans stayed in Nationals Park to watch the Marlins-Braves game on the video board. Until the bottom of the ninth inning, it seemed like a waste of time, so hats off to the ones who stayed until the end! They were rewarded with hats, shirts, and other souvenirs tossed to them from Nats players who returned to the field after waiting for the Marlins-Braves game to end. Then they got back to the "serious" business of spraying champagne all around the locker room. gif ]

The Nats will have an off-day tomorrow, perfectly timed. It was not until September 24 last year (when I made such a chart) that the Nats clinched their division.

In the first game of the series with the Phillies, on Thursday, Tanner Roark gave up three runs over six innings, and the Nats were behind by two runs when he left the game. In the bottom of the sixth, Matt Wieters hit an RBI double to begin a magnificent comeback. Soon the bases were loaded, and on a 3-2 count, Trea Turner smashed a single up the middle that got two runs across the plate, retaking the lead, just barely. In the top of the seventh, the Phillies' Andres Blanco hit a ball to deep center field, and Michael A. Taylor sprinted and made a perfectly-timed leap to grab the ball about a foot above the wall. It was one of the best, and most pivotal, defensive plays by the Nationals all year. The Nats' standard late-inning relief crew (Brandon Kintzler, Ryan Madson, and Sean Doolittle) all did their job flawlessly, and the Nats won it, 4-3. Tanner Roark even got credit for the win!

Friday was a real slug-fest, as the Phillies scored three runs in the top of the first, embarrassing the Nats' ace Max Scherzer. But the Nats regained some momentum when Ryan Zimmerman hit an RBI single in the bottom of the first. They scored another in the second, and in the third inning Michael A. Taylor hit an inside-the-park grand slam! The center fielder misjudged how hard the line drive had been hit (not ruled an error), and speedy Michael circled the bases. The Nats led 10-4 after six innings, and it seemed as though they had things well under control. But then Oliver Perez gave up three runs without getting an out in the seventh inning, and Shawn Kelley did the very same thing in the top of the ninth. His ERA has risen to 7.99, pretty much ruling him out of postseason roster consideration. Fortunately, Sean Doolittle came in and threw three strikeouts to end the game. The deciding run was scored in the eighth inning, when Michael A. Taylor hit an RBI triple. Nats 11, Phillies 10.

In Saturday's game, Howie Kendrick hit a solo homer in the first inning to give the Nats an early lead. Edwin Jackson had a rough outing, however, and only lasted 3 1/3 innings, giving up five runs. The Nats gradually narrowed the gap, thanks to a two-run homer and RBI single by Michael A. Taylor, but their attempted rally in the ninth inning fell short, and they lost, 5-4.

Michael Taylor: Wow!

The Nationals' young center fielder, Michael A. Taylor, has really been on a tear lately, with three home runs over the past week (including that inside-the-park grand slam on Friday), plus another game-saving catch at the center field wall on Thursday night. (He did the same thing in Milwaukee last week.) He was on the disabled list from early July until mid-August, and since he returned he has gradually regained his hitting prowess. True, he swings at bad pitches too often (as does Ryan Zimmerman), but he has proven himself to be an invaluable part of the Nats' lineup, and can be expected to play a decisive part in postseason games next month.

Indians' winning streak: 18!!!

The Cleveland Indians continue to surpass expectations, and are making history with 18 consecutive wins. The Tribe just swept the visiting Baltimore Orioles, who had been pretty hot lately, fighting for the second wild card spot. The Indians' pitchers have been outstanding this year, while Jose Ramirez and Lonnie Chisenhall lead a powerful offensive lineup. Younger players such as Francisco Lindor (in his third year) and Giovanny Urshela (second year) have been a key part of the Indians' success. See MLB.com.

Dodgers' losing streak: 10!!!

And almost as amazingly, the L.A. Dodgers were swept by the visiting Colorado Rockies this weekend, losing today by a score of 8-1. They have now lost ten games in a row, and since August 25, they have only won one out of sixteen games! That's just hard to fathom. Clayton Kershaw missed a few weeks due to injury, and when he pitched against the Rockies on Thursday, he only lasted 3 2/3 innings, giving up four runs. If the Dodgers can't count on him to win a game, their postseason prospects are shaky indeed. Their lead in the NL West has shrunk to just nine games, which is fairly secure, but they are only four games ahead of the Nationals in the race for the best win-loss record in the National League, and that is not secure at all.

Are you ready for some football?

While the Nationals were clinching their division title this afternoon, several miles to the east in Landover, Maryland, the Washington Redskins lost to the Philadelphia Eagles. I wasn't watching, of course, but it seems that Kirk Cousins kept getting sacked and coughing up the ball. It's another disheartening start of the Redskins's season, and you wonder if attendance will continue to slide given the squabbles between the front office and Kirk Cousins, etc.

Ever since they moved into FedEx Field (originally Jack Kent Cook Stadium), the Redskins seem to have been jinxed, and in response to declining fan interest, they have been hacking out more and more sections from the upper deck. I've been meaning to post the seating capacity numbers in "the Incredible Shrinking Stadium," and here is what I found:

From: To: Seating capacity
1997 1999 80,116
2000 2004 ?
2005 2009 91,704
2012 2014 85,000
2015 2016 79,000

SOURCE: Washington Post

Some sources (e.g., wikipedia) give the current capacity as 82,000, but that is based on a 2015 Redskins Media Guide which may not have been updated to reflect the reductions which took place that year. It's hard to say. According to ESPN, the capacity of FedEx Field is 85,000 and "the stadium is the largest in the NFL." Well, maybe I shouldn't feel so bad about some pages on my website that are out of date! gif

And finally, that was quite an upset when the Kansas City Chiefs stunned the host New England Patriots with a come-from-behind [42-27] victory on Thursday night! (That was the official first NFL game of the season.)

Nats' magic number: 6

September 6, 2017 [LINK / comment]

Nationals sweep the Marlins again

Much like they did in Houston two weeks ago, the Washington Nationals left a swath of devastation in Miami, beating the Marlins in all three games. (Was it a coincidence that a major hurricane menaced those two cities almost as soon as the Nats left town? See below.) Tonight Gio Gonzalez pitched five scoreless innings, escaping from a couple of tight jams such as having loaded the bases with nobody out. Whew! Ryan Zimmerman hit his 31st home run of the year, and Michael A. Taylor hit his 14th. In a ballpark as big as Marlins Park, that takes some doing. As usual (since late July), the bullpen did their job, and the Marlins' only run was in the bottom of the ninth. Final score: 8-1. The Nats ended up with a 13-6 record against the Marlins this year.

Last night was a tense, hard-fought matchup. Third-string catcher Pedro Severino hit an RBI single in the second inning, and Daniel Murphy hit a solo homer in the eighth inning, and that proved to be the decisive run: Nats 2, Marlins 1. But the real key to victory was Stephen Strasburg, who overcame a persistent leg cramp to get his twelfth win of the year. In the process, he set a Nationals record in pitching 26 consecutive scoreless innings. I wrote on Facebook:

With those six scoreless innings tonight, Stephen Strasburg's ERA drops to 2.78. Of the top five pitchers in MLB right now (ERA-wise), THREE are Nationals!!! That's how you win in October.

In the Monday night game, Anthony Rendon and Daniel Murphy both homered and got three hits, accounting for all seven RBIs between them. As for the Marlins, their superhuman slugger Giancarlo Stanton got his 53rd homer of the year, and has at least an even shot at breaking Roger Maris's legitimate home run record of 61. A.J. Cole went 5 2/3 innings and notched his second win of the year. (He's now 2-4.) Final score: 7-2.

As a result of that series, Nats' magic number is now only 6, as shown at the top right of this blog post. [Their 18-game lead in the NL East is their biggest such lead ever, eclipsing (!) their previous mark of 17 games set at the end of the 2014 season.] So, the Nationals are all but guaranteed a National League East Division title for the second year in a row, and their fourth in the past six years. There will be a big celebration at home in Nationals Park some time over the next week or so...

Not another hurricane!?

As with Hurricane Harvey in Houston late last month, Hurricane Irma poses a dire threat to the entire state of Florida, and perhaps to the east coast. It's close to Puerto Rico right now, and will probably cause damage to the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Cuba before it reaches the U.S. The Marlins are leaving town right away, but their destination (Atlanta) may be affected by the storm by Sunday, the final day of their four-game series against the Braves. The Nationals begin a long home stand tomorrow with a four-game series against the Phillies. Some Nats games could get rained out, messing up the schedule as the 2017 regular season nears a conclusion...

Superstitious fans should take note that the Nationals' final three road series will be in Philadelphia, New York (Queens), and Atlanta during the latter part of this month. Folks in those cities, watch out!

Nats hit speed bump in Milwaukee

After cruising fairly steadily for the past month, the Washington Nationals lost a series to the Milwaukee Brewers over the weekend. (Their previous series loss was to the Marlins in Miami, July 31 - August 2.) On August 31 (Thursday), Gio Gonzalez had his first shaky outing in a long time, giving up five earned runs over six innings. He kept his composure but just didn't have it that day. Brewers 6, Nats 3. The next day Tanner Roark pitched one of his best games all year, striking out ten and only giving up one run over seven innings, but that was the only score of the game. On Saturday, Michael A. Taylor not only provided the critical offensive firepower with a home run, but he stole a would-be game-tying RBI double to deep center field, making a great catch against the wall. The Nats had a chance to even the series on Sunday, but "reserve" starting pitcher Edwin Jackson was overcome by the Brewers sluggers. The Nats would have been shut out if it weren't for a two-run homer by Ryan Zimmerman in the top of the ninth; instead they lost by a score of 7-2.

I should mention during the Nationals' series in Houston, I noticed a few details in Minute Maid Park that will serve to help making a more accurate diagram rendering.

Dodgers' pennant drive stalls

Until late last month, one might ask "Can anybody beat the Dodgers?" Now a more pertinent question might be, "Can the Dodgers beat anybody?" I'm sure it's just a temporary blip, but it does raise questions about whether the L.A. Dodgers' path to their first National League pennant [since 1988] is as smooth as we previously thought. They have only won one of their past ten games, which makes them (along with the Miami Marlins) the worst team in the majors over that period! I didn't see that coming. Starting with August 26, they lost almost all their games to (respectively) the Milwaukee Brewers (home), the Arizona Diamondbacks (away), the San Diego Padres (away), and the Diamondbacks again (home). Last night (Tuesday) the D-backs won 3-1 in ten innings, and tonight they are ahead 2-1 in the seventh inning, going for the sweep.

Indeed, the Diamondbacks are charging hard, closing to "only" within 11 1/2 games of the Dodgers. Their chances at the NL West title are slim at best, but they'll (presumably) at least have home field advantage in the NL wild card game. The Colorado Rockies were scuffling for a while, and their lead in the wild card race has slipped to just three games.

And speaking of hot teams, the Cleveland Indians have won an incredible fourteen (14) games in a row, and are now only 2 1/2 games behind the Houston Astros in the race to have the best record in the American League.

I haven't paid much attention to the Baltimore Orioles this year, as they are struggling just to stay above .500, but their rain-delayed game last night had to be very gratifying for the home town fans. The visiting New York Yankees had a 6-5 lead going into the bottom of the ninth, whereupon their closing pitcher Dillon Betances got two outs and then gave up a walk, which allowed slugger Manny Machado to get an at-bat. Guess what? Walk-off home run!!! It was well after midnight, but the relatively few fans who stuck it out to the bitter end were rewarded handsomely for their loyalty. That was a key outcome because...

The Boston Red Sox hosted another marathon, beating the Toronto Blue Jays 3-2 in 19 innings!!! Baseball really gets crazy this time of year. The Red Sox now enjoy a four-game lead over the Yankees in the AL East.

Whazzup with me?

As usual, I am hopelessly behind in communicating with folks, but as I get caught up with things over the next few days, I do intend to reply to the e-mail messages that have been sent, and to acknowledge donations in support of this website. Thanks for your patience.

August 31, 2017 [LINK / comment]

Strasburg rocks, Nats sweep Marlins!

For the first time since mid-July, the Nats swept a series, winning all three games against the Miami Marlins this week. The star of the show was Stephen Strasburg, who went a complete nine innings for the second shutout of his career. He even provided all the offensive power the Nats needed, getting the first score by hitting a solo home run in the fifth inning. (Two batters later, Wilmer Difo did likewise.) Strasburg got into a jam a couple times, but he kept his composure like the veteran he is, and escaped unscathed. Anthony Rendon later batted in a run, and the Nats added another run in the eighth inning on a passed ball. Final score: Nats 4, Marlins 0.

Strasburg thus brought his ERA down from 3.10 to 2.90, joining Max Scherzer and Gio Gonzalez in the elite sub-3.00 ERA club. Clayton Kershaw leads the National League in that category, but the next three pitchers are all Washington Nationals pitchers!

Wrigley Field foul pole anomaly

If you look closely at the photo of Wrigley Field that I posted two days ago, you will notice that the left field foul pole seems slightly out of line from the left field wall. That bothered me, and after doing some checking of other photos, I discovered that that pole is indeed positioned about five feet closer to home plate than the wall is. I assume that means the distance marker (355) is correct at that precise spot, and that the foul pole is therefore about 350 feet from home. The left field corner in Wrigley Field is slightly curved!

Wrigley Field LF corner

Wilson Contreras nabbed what would have been a double hit by Daniel Murphy in the August 5 game. Roll your mouse over the image to compare it to a virtually identical perspective when I was at a game there in July 2012.

So, I brought this discovery to the attention of Bruce Orser, and he found some excellent closeup photos on bleedcubbieblue.com that show that curved brick wall much more clearly. (Thanks, Bruce!) It is not yet certain whether the left field foul pole was that way ever since the modern bleachers were built in 1938, or if it was moved at some point after that. In any case, I have made a few minor tweaks to the main Wrigley Field diagram, but will leave the other variants untouched for the next day or two, while I pursue this question further.

NOTE: I made two corrections to the August 20 blog post, eleven days after the fact: In the paragraph about stadium capacity changes, I meant to say that official data are usually accurate to within 500 seats (not 5,000) the and in the paragraph about the Nationals' series in San Diego, I changed "Marlins" to "Padres."

August 29, 2017 [LINK / comment]

Werth & Turner return, Nats ignite

After three full months on the disabled list, veteran slugger Jayson Werth was back in the lineup last night (August 28), and he made the most of it! In the fourth inning, he followed a lead-off single by Matt Wieters with a huge home run that almost reached the concourse behind the stands in left field. It was estimated at 425 feet. That gave the Nats a 4-1 lead over the recently-surging Marlins (66-63 before arriving in D.C.), and the lead kept growing. In the sixth inning, Howie Kendrick hit a three-run triple, and three more runs scored in that inning and one in the seventh. Max Scherzer was also back from the disabled list (only ten days), he struck out ten batters over seven innings, while only giving up one run. Final score: Nats 11, Marlins 2.

Tonight Werth rested, while another long-ailing (but much younger) star returned from the DL: shortstop Trea Turner. He immediately proved his worth by nabbing a line drive with the bases loaded in the bottom of the first inning, squelching what could have been a big Marlins rally. The amazing Giancarlo Stanton (batting second) had already hit a home run -- his 51st of the year! He is well on the way to becoming the first player since the Steroid Era to break Roger Maris's record of 61 home runs. But the Nats later came back. Daniel Murphy batted in two runs in the third inning, Turner scored after doubling in the fifth, and Anthony Rendon batted in three runs in the seventh. Once again, Edwin Jackson pitched effectively after giving up an early run, giving up just two runs over six innings. Nats 8, Marlins 3.

Nats keep up a steady pace

Tuesday night's win (their 80th of the season, against only 51 losses!) marks the eighth consecutive series which the Nationals have either won or tied. Their last series loss was against the Marlins in Miami, July 31 - August 2. But the Nats have not swept any of the series this month, they just keep plugging along with enough wins to keep them at or above the .600 mark.

The Nats had a successful road trip out west, winning five out of seven games. With another great outing by Gio Gonzalez (on August 20), they won the final game of the series in San Diego, 4-1. Daniel Murphy's two RBIs proved decisive in that one. Then the Nats flew to Houston, where the Astros have been having their best year in franchise history. (When the Astros won the National League pennant in 2005, they were only .549 in the regular season.) The Astros began that series with a slight percentage edge over the Nationals, but the visitors won two of the three games and came out ahead of the home team. The finale on August 24 was a heart-stopper: The Nats had a 3-1 lead going into the bottom of the ninth inning, but the Astros scored twice off of Brandon Kintzler, the first blown save opportunity by the Nats bullpen since early last month. (For some reason, Dusty Baker had put the usual closer Sean Doolittle on the mound in the eighth inning.) But the Nats staged a two-run rally in the top of the 11th inning, and held on to win, 5-4. That series might be a preview of this year's World Series, assuming the Nationals make it to the NLCS and find a way to beat the L.A. Dodgers. But you know what? Now that the Nationals' injured players are returning, the team is playing at the championship caliber that they displayed earlier in the season, and as we know, anything can happen in the postseason!

And as the month of September approaches, we start thinking about October and counting our chickens before they hatch. The Nationals' magic number is now just 18, whereas the lowest it had been on September 1 of their three division-championship years (2012, 2014, and 2016) was 19. Smooth sailing ahead??!

Massive flooding in Houston

The Nationals got out of Houston just in time, as Hurricane Harvey was bearing down on southeast Texas. Fortunately, the Astros were also leaving town on a brief road trip to Anaheim, but the storm proved much worse than forecast, with rainfalls of Biblical proportions turning much of the city into a vast lake. Thus far, Minute Maid Park has only suffered minor flooding in the lower service levels (see chron.com), but it could get worse. In the mean time, the Astros are playing a "home" series in Tropicana Field against their cross-state rivals, the Rangers. It would have made more sense to play the series in Globe Life Park, but the Rangers would have been obliged to reciprocate by playing the scheduled series next month against the Astros in Houston, which would have created an extremely long road trip for them.

I updated the Anomalous stadiums page with that information. The last time a Major League series had to be relocated due to a hurricane was in 2001.

By the way, thanks to Facebook I am in touch with a guy who lives near Houston who is one of the most loyal fans of this website: Mark London. So far, he has been coping well enough, but for millions of other folks in that metropolitan area, life has become a sheer hell. I encourage everyone to do their part by donating to the American Red Cross or other relief-oriented charitable organization.

Wrigley Field (minor) update

The Wrigley Field Wrigley Field diagrams have been revised slightly, based on careful observations made during my visit there earlier this month. It's more than a "tweak," but less than a full-fledged "update." As noted months ago, they moved the bullpens inside, beneath the bleachers, filling in that space with three more rows of seats all the way down to where the grandstand meets the foul line. (I have yet to calculate the reduced foul territory, however.) Most of the other changes were in the grandstand near the left field corner, as the positions of the entry portals and lateral walkways were altered. I also added an elevator shaft that I noticed for the very first time in the rear of the lower deck over there, and there is a corresponding structure atop the second deck as well. In addition, the brick wall is not quite parallel to the foul line down there (remember Steve Bartman?), and there is a gap of about two feet where that brick wall bends. I also added the upper-deck refreshments balcony behind home plate, and there are are also slight corrections in the on the first-base side over there. Finally, I am also in the process of adding some new photos to that page, such as the one below, but most notably some extreme panoramas. They should be ready by Wednesday.

Wrigley Field bleachers 2017

The iconic ivy-fronted bleachers of Wrigley Field, bathed in sunlight.

From October through December, a table of all Postseason game scores is shown here.

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Baseball books:

See Sources for a brief description of the above books. Also see more specialized books on the Ebbets Field, Wrigley Field, and Yankee Stadium pages.

Coming Attractions

(Includes major revisions, minor revisions, pages with additional diagrams, and future stadiums that are under construction. This is only a rough guide; the sequence is subject to change.)

Stadium construction

Between March 2012, when Marlins Park was completed, and September 2014, there were no major league baseball stadiums under construction. It was the first time since September 1986 that this situation existed. But in light of the recent groundbreaking on the future home of the Braves, the table that had been removed from this space is being restored.

Stadium construction

Franchise /
Opens % done
Atlanta Braves
Sun Trust Field
2017 100%
Oakland (San Jose?) Athletics
Cisco Field (?)
2022? 0%
Tampa Bay Rays
Rays Stadium (?)
2022? 0%
NOTES: This table includes stadiums that were recently under construction or are being contemplated.

Research department: