August 15, 2013
The Nationals won their first two games of the series against the World Champion* San Francisco Giants, extending their winning streak to five. On Tuesday, Gio Gonzalez was having some difficulty during the first four innings, and did not return to the mound after a one-hour rain delay. There was an incident in the dugout in which (apparently) Jayson Werth criticized Gio for his lack of hustle getting to first base on what would have been a force out. Gonzalez was suffering from a bad back, evidently. Rookie Tanner Roark took the mound in his stead after the rain stopped, and gave up a home run, tying the game 1-1. In the sixth inning, Adam LaRoche hit a two-run blast to retake the lead, and the Nats held on to win, 4-2.
In the second inning last night, Ian Desmond hit a monster home run over the visitors' bullpen in left field to tie the game 1-1. Then the Nats took a big 6-1 lead after a five-run rally in the fourth inning. With the bases loaded, Anthony Rendon hit a double to the wall in center field, and the runs just kept coming. That felt good for a change. Unfortunately, the bullpen faltered, as the Giants scored three in the eighth inning, charged to Ian Krol and Ryan Mattheus, and one in the ninth charged to Rafael Soriano. The Giants came within inches of tying the game or taking the lead when Hunter Pence smashed a line drive toward the Red Porch in left-center field. Somehow the Nationals' fleet-footed center fielder Denard Span made a leaping catch to get the out and end the game. What a huge relief that was! Span's "Web Gem" was perhaps the most important defensive play of the year for the Nationals, and he deserves strong consideration for a Golden Glove award.
This afternoon, the Nats are going for another sweep, and with any luck, I'll be there to see it!
UPDATE: Gr-r-r-roan! Now I know what it was like to be at Game 5 of the NLDS last year. The way today's game ended was almost exactly the same. The "agony of defeat" stings a lot more when you're there in person. More tomorrow...
* The Giants have one of the lowest winning percentages of any team that won the World Series in the previous year.
"World Series or bust" [was the avowed goal of Nats manager] Davey Johnson [after he announced that this would be his final season. Aiming high may have backfired. Who knows?] The Washington Post recently had an article on the possible managers for the Washington Nationals. The leading candidates:
From what little I know, either Randy Knorr or Bo Porter would do pretty well. But what about Nats former manager Jim Riggleman? He was effective, and his only big drawback is a misguided negotiating strategy which backfired and resulted in a sudden departure two years ago. I know, it's not going to happen because of the hard feelings on the part of everyone concerned. What a shame.
After Stephen Strasburg's 4-hit, nine-inning triumph on Sunday, I got to wondering how many other Nats' complete-game shutouts there have been. Here is what I came up with (or up with which I came):
|4 Aug 2005||John Patterson||Dodgers||7-0||RFK Stadium|
|15 Aug 2006||Pedro Astacio||Braves||5-0||RFK Stadium|
|21 Jul 2009||John Lannan||Mets||4-0||Nationals Park|
|17 Apr 2010||Livan Hernandez||Brewers||8-0||Nationals Park|
|29 Apr 2011||Jason Marquis||Giants||3-0||Nationals Park|
|31 Aug 2012||Gio Gonzalez||Cardinals||10-0||Nationals Park|
|26 Apr 2013||Jordan Zimmermann||Reds||1-0||Nationals Park|
|11 Aug 2013||Stephen Strasburg||Phillies||6-0||Nationals Park|
Note that, of those eight games, each of them was unique in terms of the pitcher, the opposing team, and the number of runs scored. Also, every one of those shutouts took place at home in Washington, and all but one of them was in either April or August. Once I've verified the information, I'll put that table on the Washington Nationals page.
Six of the 15 games played on Tuesday night went into extra innings, and of five of them last night. Most noteworthy were the victories by the Red Sox over the Blue Jays on Tuesday, and the Diamondbacks over the Orioles three nights in a row. Ouch.
During a rain delay in Atlanta, a Braves fan named Ronald Lee Homer fell from the rear of the upper deck concourse to the team parking lot about 65 feet below. He could not be revived by emergency medical workers. Police have said it was an accident, and no foul play is suspected. Are such tragedies avoidable? See MLB.com.