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 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."