Nationals struggle in California
After winning seven of their first eight games this month, it looked like the Washington Nationals had put their disappointing first month of the 2013 season behind them. But then they proceeded to lose eight of their next eleven games, putting them back at .500, about where they started the not-so merry month of May. Losing the latter two games of the four-game series in the San Diego is hard to comprehend. The Padres won 2-1 on May 18 mainly because of the Nationals' cold bats. Jordan Zimmermann pitched splendidly once again, but committed a throwing error late in the game that allowed the Padres to take a 2-1 lead, and that was the final score. The next day the Nats looked horrible, as the Padres dominated them with a 13-4 victory. The only bright spot was a home run by Ryan Zimmerman, who is continuing to recover from his off-season shoulder surgery.
The day after that in San Francisco went about the same, as the Giants won 8-0. Since Ross Detwiler went on the DL, the Nats called up Zach Duke to perform as starting pitcher, and that was a big mistake. Manager Davey Johnson said he didn't want to give up Craig Stammen as the valuable long reliever, a questionable decision in many peoples' minds. The latter two games in San Francisco both went into extra innings. On May 21 Rafael Soriano blew another save, while on May 22 Bryce Harper homered and then sparked a tenth-inning rally that put the Nats on top, 2-1. That was a huge relief for Nats fans.
The four-game losing streak put the Nationals [back down to] .500 for the second time this season, falling to 4 1/2 games behind the Atlanta Braves in the NL East. It wasn't quite a "California Nightmare" (as opposed to "California Dreamin"), but it was close.
Last night in Our Nation's Capital, the Nats had a very encouraging homecoming, beating the Phillies 5-2. Once again, Jordan Zimmermann was superb on the mound, [lowering his ERA to 1.71.] The surprising star of the evening was bench player Steve Lombardozzi, who went three for four, including a clutch two-run double that provided a margin of comfort for the relief pitchers. Tonight Dan Haren is starting for the Nats.
UPDATE: The Nats and Phillies battled back and forth tonight, tied 3-3 going into the eighth inning. That's when the Phillies scored two runs, on a walk and two hits given up by relief pitcher Drew Storen. The Nats had two base runners and nobody out in the bottom of the eighth, but failed to get anyone across home plate. Final score: 5-3. Dan Haren threw ten strikeouts, and Adam LaRoche hit a home run, but not much else happened.
Espinosa on the DL
We learned why one of the Nationals has been hitting so poorly this year: Danny Espinosa has a minor broken bone in his right wrist; it is described as a "bone chip." It happened on April 14, when he was hit by a pitch thrown by Paul Maholm of the Braves. See MLB.com. In his place, the Nats called up Jeff Kobernus from the franchise's Triple-A affiliate in Syracuse.
Milwaukee County Stadium update
For no particular reason, I updated the Milwaukee County Stadium diagrams. The main change is the inclusion of entry portals, which are especially noticeable in the new upper-deck and lower-deck "exposed" diagram versions. If you squint you can see the support columns adjacent to many of those entry portals. I had the field dimensions correct at the time of the last diagram update, March 6, 2011, but I made the bleachers slightly larger again. Why the difference? There are (were) 31 rows of bleachers (each of which is typically a bit more than two feet deep), but I failed to account for the four or so feet of lateral walking space in the front.