Giants split series with Nats
After two death-defying improbable wins in San Francisco, it was unlikely that the Washington Nationals could keep that up for the entire four-game series. Indeed, they fell flat on Saturday and on Sunday, settling for a mere split in the big showdown series against the Giants.
On Saturday the Nats took an early 3-0 lead, of which two runs came on an Anthony Rendon home run to deep left center field. Could the Nats manage to sweep the Giants in a road series? The Nats' rookie pitcher Reynaldo Lopez did better than his first MLB outing last month, but unfortunately he couldn't hold the lead, and was taken out after four innings. With the score 3-3 in the seventh inning, the Giants loaded the bases, and then scored on a sac fly. Oliver Perez then replaced Yusmeiro Petit on the mound, and he in turn was replaced after loading the bases again with a walk. Blake Treinen, who is usually prettty solid, did likewise, walking in another run. Final score: 5-3.
Sunday was more of a disappointment, in part because the Giants' pitcher Matt Cain has been struggling for much of this year. This time, however, he was like his old self, as the Nats only got three hits off him. Gio Gonzalez did his job as starting pitcher well, but two errors by his team mates proved lethal. He left the game after six innings with the Nats behind by one run. The Giants scored once more in the seventh inning, and won the finale of the series, 3-1.
That 2-2 series split gave the Nationals a 13-12 record for the month, as you can see on the newly-updated Washington Nationals page. With so many home games in July, they should have done better. The Nationals will face the Giants again this coming weekend in Washington, for a three-game series. They were lucky not to face Madison Bumgarner in San Francisco, but MadBum will probably pitch a game in D.C. That will determine the regular season series victor, but there's a good chance that the two teams will face each other in a postseason series this October.
Nationals smash D-Backs
After a quick flight to Phoenix, the Nationals got off to a good start against the Diamondbacks last night, with a four-run rally in the first inning. Stephen Strasburg gave up only one run on 3 hits over six innings, while the Nats kept piling on more and more runs. Daniel Murphy, Wilson Ramos and Strasburg himself each got three hits, but nobody hit a home run. Final score: 14-1. It was the Nats' highest run total and biggest victory margin of the season, and their biggest run total without a home run since July 13, 2007, when the Nats beat the Marlins 14-10 in Miami; see baseball-reference.com.
Rangers, Indians make BIG trades
As the non-waiver trading deadline came and passed yesterday, the Texas Rangers and Cleveland Indians were the most active in last-minute trades. The Rangers got Jonathan Lucroy from the Brewers, and aging slugger Carlos Beltran from the Yankees, in exchange for valuable future prospects. The Cleveland Indians acquired closing pitcher Andrew Miller (a left-hander) from the Yankees, and outfielder Brandon Guyer from the Rays. (Lucroy had exercised his option to reject a trade to Cleveland.) Meanwhile, the Cubs added left-handed pitcher Mike Montgomery (from the Mariners) to their bullpen, after getting closer Aroldis Chapman from the Yankees. On the west coast, the Dodgers sacrificed some hot prospects to get pitchers Rich Hill and Bud Norris, as well as outfielder Josh Reddick, a possible replacement for the tempermental Yasiel Puig. Their rivals the Giants acquired pitcher Matt Moore in a trade with the Rays, as well as infielder Eduardo Nunez (an All-Star) from the Twins. See MLB.com.
Some people were surprised that the Washington Nationals did not pursue a slugger or another relief pitcher (besides Mark Melancon) more aggressively. Apparently Mike Rizzo is confident that his current roster can regain their former batting zest and make a run to the World Series. I tend to share their stand-pat approach; we'll see how it turns out.
League Park update [updated!]
The League Park diagrams have been revised, and there are two brand-new variants, showing the uncovered upper deck and lower deck, respectively. Those diagram variants allow the support beams and entry portals to be shown in for the first time, as well as a narrow lateral walkway behind the second row of the upper deck (in the infield portion only). Also, there is now a dark gray line showing the peak of the roof, as I have done for stadiums with a similar roof profile such as Wrigley Field -- both of them, actually. (The other such stadiums: Baker Bowl, Griffith Stadium, Shibe Park, and Tiger Stadium) Also, the bullpens are rendered with more detail, and the additional rows of seats added along the foul lines in the late 1920s or early 1930s are more accurate than before. Some photos indicate that those addional rows originally extended straight along the respective grandstand; later on the outer portions thereof were angled inward, creating a small gap betwen them and the permanent grandstand. Finally, I added two more photographs (which I took in 1998) to that page a few months ago, in case you haven't seen them yet.
This was the first revision of League Park diagrams since December 2010. I became aware that the Cleveland Rams played football there before moving to Los Angeles, but I haven't seen such a photo yet, so I will put off doing a football diagram for the time being. But on a related note, I did find a good photo of hockey rink that was installed at Progressive Field in January 2012, so I made such a diagram.
And speaking of Progressive Field, I have concluded that there was no change in the outfield dimensions when the "405" marker in center field was replaced with a "400" marker a few years ago. For the time being, I assume that the current marker is mistaken.
This means that Cleveland becomes the latest city for which all of my baseball stadium diagrams are up to date: League Park, Cleveland Stadium, and Progressive Field. The other such cities: Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, San Diego, Seattle, Phoenix, Denver, Arlington (TX), St. Petersburg (FL), Miami, and Toronto. What about San Francisco? I may have to make some tweaks to the Candlestick Park diagrams... As you can see, I am making quite a bit of progress toward the ultimate goal!
[ UPDATE: Long-time fan Terry Wallace alerted me to an article from 2014 about League Park's years as the home of the Cleveland Rams, with an artist's depiction of the gridiron layout. See flyinglombardi.com. It is not quite to scale (15-20 feet too short), but it's close enough for me to do a football diagram to the League Park page. It was slightly askew of the third base line, and parallel to the grandstand. I also added a thumbnail version of the football diagram, which you can see by rolling over the image above.]