May 3, 2016
There's a first time for everything, and the series in St. Louis over the weekend was a perfect example, as the Washington Nationals won all three games. It was supposed to be the "road trip from hell," with games on ten consecutive days against teams that were in the postseason last year. But instead, the Nats rolled over the Cardinals, their first sweep in St. Louis since the team was "reborn" in 2005. On Friday, Stephen Strasburg gave up just two runs in seven innings, as the Nats hung on to win, 5-4. It was his fourth win of the season. On Saturday, the Nats jumped on top with four runs in the first inning, thanks mostly to Jayson Werth's three-run homer. Young Joe Ross pitched another superb game (his ERA is only 0.79!), as the Nats won easily, 6-1. The final score on Sunday was the same, but the path to victory was slower. Neither team scored for the first five innings, but the Nats finally got to the Cardinals' ace Carlos Martinez, who took his first loss of the year. For the Nats, Max Scherzer finally pitched like his old self and chalked up his third win. He grew up in the St. Louis area, so a lot of his friends and family were probably there to see him, no doubt with mixed emotions.
Then the Nationals headed to the other side of Missouri, where the World Champion Kansas City Royals were waiting. Once again, the Nats got on the board in the first inning, and once again an RBI by Ryan Zimmerman proved to be all the Nats needed to win, as neither team scored after that. D.C. 2, K.C. 0. Gio Gonzalez had another fine outing, going six innings without allowing a run; he has a 1.15 ERA right now. Tonight's game was a thriller, with home runs by Anthony Rendon, Daniel Murphy, and Jayson Werth, plus three doubles and a triple. Tanner Roark recovered after giving up three runs in the third inning, and was in line for the win, except that Jonathan Papelbon blew the save opportunity in the bottom of the ninth inning. In fact, he gave up three runs on five hits, as the Royals came back to win it, 7-6. That one stung a little bit, but "you can't win 'em all."
Meanwhile, the Mets and the Cubs keep winning. Those two teams and the Nationals are the hottest teams in the National League right now. The Mets lost to the Braves tonight, thus remaining 1.5 games behind the Nats, while the Cubs trounced the Pirates again in Pittsburgh. After the rubber match game in K.C. tomorrow, the Nats head to Chicago for a true "clash of titans" -- a four-game series that could well be a preview of this year's NLCS. OK, let's not get ahead of ourselves...
Ohio resident Jim Gumm informed me that when Riverfront Stadium ("Cinergy Field") was reconfigured in 2001 to make room for construction of Great American Ballpark next door, the diamond was moved backward about ten feet. An article in the Cincinnati Enquirer provides plenty of detail, and clears up lingering doubts in my mind. Diagram update pending!
On a related note, after looking at photos of Riverfront Stadium, I realized that it should have been included among the stadiums with a "ribbed" roof, which I mentioned when I updated the Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium diagrams last week.
In another week or so, I'll have a lot more time to work on diagrams and respond to e-mail inquiries.