April 17, 2013 [LINK / comment]

Nationals overcome the Marlins

After the shellacking they received from the Atlanta Braves last weekend, the Washington Nationals were desperate to shake it off and get back to winning. They couldn't have picked a better opponent for that task than the Miami Marlins, whose ranks were decimated by owner Jeffrey Loria during the offseason. But the Marlins are no pushovers, and sluggers like Giancarlo Stanton pack a big punch. On Tuesday, Dan Haren pitched OK, but another error by Ryan Zimmerman opened the door to a four-run inning by the Marlins, and the Nats fell to the Fish, 8-2. Three Nationals players were out of the lineup due to illness: Bryce Harper, Denard Span, and Danny Espinosa. That had a big effect.

In tonight's game, the Nats got going early for a change, with two runs in the first inning. Ross Detwiler pitched splendidly over seven innings, and the only run scored by the Marlins was on a questionable call by the ump at the plate. Bryce Harper went four for five, while Kurt Suzuki homered and tripled, and the final score was 6-1. So the Nationals at least won the series, and their record is now back up to 9-6, an even .600 -- about where they finished the 2012 season. But they are still 3 1/2 games behind the Braves...

Surprises in the standings

The Braves' incredible ten-game winning streak was finally broken today, as they fell short in a 1-0 pitchers' duel. Surprisingly, the team that beat them was the Kansas City Royals, who are in a tight race with the Detroit Tigers for first place in the AL Central Division. How about that! Early-season interleague play is hard to get used to. Another surprising over-achieving team is the Colorado Rockies, leading the NL West with a 10-4 record. They missed some games due to freak April snow storms in Denver.

We Nationals fans are a little perturbed by the way the 2013 season has begun, but the fans of the Cincinnati Reds must be quite upset. Yesterday's game with the Phillies was suspended because of rain in the middle of the ninth inning, and when play resumed this afternoon, the Reds managed to score the winning run on an RBI single by Jay Bruce. In the evening game, they trounced the Phillies, 11-2, and thereby climbed over .500 for the first time in a while.

Another disappointing team is the L.A. Angels, in a race with the Houston Astros for the bottom of the AL West. At the top of that newly-expanded division are the Oakland A's, with a 12-4 record, second only to the Braves in the majors.

Elsewhere in the American League, the Yankees are chasing the Red Sox, while the two teams that I had picked to finish on top -- the Blue Jays and the Rays -- are at the bottom of the standings. Go figure.

Speaking of the Red Sox, their game with the Rays on Monday began early, at 11:00 AM, to avoid interfering with the Boston Marathon. Who would have thought that the annual running race would be the target of a terrorist attack? The Red Sox and the Rays were getting on the buses that would take them to the airport when the two bombs went off just before 3:00 PM. Prayers and sympathy go out to the people of Boston who were victimized by the attack, especially to the families of those who lost their lives or their limbs.

Movie time!

There's a very good chance I'll see the new movie about Jackie Robinson, 42, in the next couple days. In the mean time, I added it to the Baseball in the Movies page, which now includes a column with my rankings for each movie that I have seen (or can remember). My favorites? Field of Dreams (1989) and Fever Pitch (2005). I may reconsider some of those rankings later on...

Putting in my own rankings was prompted by April Whitzman at the MLB "Fancave", who did likewise.