July 25, 2018 [LINK / comment]

Nationals avert being swept

For the first time this year,* the Washington Nationals have won the final game of a series in which they had lost the previous two or three games. Home runs by Bryce Harper (# 25) and Juan Soto (# 11) were crucial, but most of the credit goes to starting pitcher Tanner Roark. In his best outing of the year, he struck out eleven batters over eight shutout innings, and should have been given the chance to record a complete game shutout. But for whatever reason, manager Dave Martinez put the often-shaky Sammy Solis on the mound in the bottom of the ninth, and all hell immediately broke loose: Double! Single! Home run! All of a sudden it was a new ball game, and Martinez brought in new closing pitcher Kelvin Herrera, who should have been resting, and the game was soon over. Final score: Nats 7, Brewers 3. Thus, the Nats averted being swept and have a flicker of hope left as they head to Miami for a four-game series.

* The Nats were swept earlier this year by the Mets (April 5-8), the Dodgers (May 19-20), the Blue Jays (June 15-17), and the Red Sox (July 2-4). The Nats swept the Reds (March 30-April 1), the Pirates (April 30-May 3), and the Diamondbacks (May 10-13). Two-game series are not included.

Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Phillies won their game against the Dodgers last night (7-4), on a three-run homer by Trevor Plouffe in the bottom of the 16th inning. The Dodgers had run out of relief pitchers, and put catcher Kike Hernandez on the mound. And the Phillies won again this afternoon (7-3), so the Nationals remain a full seven games behind in the NL East race.

For the second day in a row, I missed the Nats' early-inning rally because I was working on...

Fenway Park tweaks

Never satisfied with "good enough," I made a few additional improvements to the diagrams for Fenway Park, one day after the "HUGE" update. The biggest changes were in the early (1912 and 1926) diagrams, but the profile was made more accurate, affecting all diagrams. I should have included a photo of Fenway Park in my last blog post, so here's one that I took during my visit there on September 5, 2016:


Fenway Park, in all its funky glory. Notice that there is an extra row of seats behind home plate.

A quick glance at my calendar reminded me that it's just six months to go until Christmas! [OOPS! "After further review," I realized that it's actually FIVE months, not six.]

Nasty trade rumors

I detest rumors about possible trades, and what happened during the All Star Game was a perfect example. It's a no-brainer that a last-place team like the Orioles would trade a top-performing player in his contract year, but the impending deal with the Dodgers for Manny Machado should never have been mentioned during a celebratory event such as the All Star Game. It's one of the few times every year when we can just have fun watching the best players play, without worrying about wins and losses, and dollars and cents. The guys broadcasting for Fox Sports should be reminded of their duty to uphold the dignity of the sport.

I bring this up in part because I have seen commentary about possible trades by the Nationals' front office as the non-waiver deadline approaches. Hardly anyone could imagine that they would be potential "sellers" this time of year, and names such as Gio Gonzalez, Tanner Roark, and -- yes, even Bryce Harper -- have been cited. Obviously, it's an open question whether Harper is likely to sign a renewed contract with the Nats after this season is over, but to let him go in the middle of the season would be the moral equivalent of unconditional surrender. The mere thought of it is just disgusting.