Nats sweep the Diamondbacks
The Washington Nationals followed up their lopsided victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday with two more big wins. On Tuesday night (late!) they scored in the top of the first inning again, but only one run this time. The Diamondbacks quickly replied in kind, and after two innings had a 2-1 lead. The Nats tied it in the fourth inning, and in the fifth inning Wilson Ramos came up to bat with two runners on base. BOOM! In a clutch situation, he delivered big-time with a three-run homer. Then on the very next pitch, second-string right fielder Chris Heisy (subbing for Bryce Harper) hit a line drive homer to left, giving the Nats a four-run lead. Jayson Werth later hit a solo homer, and Tanner Roark had another fine outing, leaving the game after 6 1/3 innings. A big part of that game was rookie Wilmer Difo (playing second base), who went 3 for 5 with one RBI. Final score: Nats 10, D-Backs 4.
On Wednesday afternoon, Max Scherzer took the mound, and in the early innings it was a real pitchers' duel. In the third inning, rookie Trea Turner got his first homer of the year, a 451-foot blast that almost cleared the seats beyond deep left center. But in the top of the fifth, he helped himself by smashing a two-run single up the middle, and the Nats took a 4-1 lead. The D-Backs closed the gap to 4-3 over the next two innings, but Scherzer hung tough and finished eight full innings, with 11 srikeouts. In the top of the ninth, Danny Espinosa hit an RBI double to right field, and the Nats piled on three more runs against the hapless Arizona bullpen. Daniel Murphy had a scond straight multi-hit game, raising his batting average back up to .358 -- tops in the NL, and just behind Jose Altuve of the Astros in the AL. Final score: 8-3.
The Nats racked up 32 runs in that three-game series, their biggest such total this year. They scored 31 runs on June 5-8, during a road trip against, respectively, the Reds and the White Sox.
By the way, while watching those games I got to wondering what the heck is that mascot for the Diamondbacks? So I checked MLB.com, and learned that it is "D. Baxter the Bobcat," who has been there since 2000. The mascot really ought to be a snake, since a Diamondback is a type of Rattlesnake (see desertmuseum.org), but I suppose it would be difficult for someone to slide around the field and stands while wearing a snake costume. (What do Bobcats have to do with Rattlesnakes??)
Cubs, Phillies clutch wins
It was beneficial to the Nationals that the Chicago Cubs beat the Miami Marlins (second place in the NL East) three games straight in Chicago. The Marlins were ahead 4-1 but the Cubs scored once in the bottom of the eighth and three times in the bottom of the ninth: twice on bases-loaded walks, and once on a walk-off wild pitch Marlins' A.J. Ramos. Hey, a win's a win!* Meanwhile, the Phillies came back in two consecutive games, beating the San Francisco Giants 13-8 on Tuesday (after scoring 5 runs in the bottom of the eighth) and 7-6 on Wednesday (in 12 innings). The Giants have been struggling since the All-Star break, while the Colorado Rockies have the best record in baseball during that period. Anyway, as a result of the Cubs' sweep of the Marlins, the Nationals' lead in the NL East is now back up to 7 games. With only two months left in the regular season, it's time to watch the standings more closely...
* At Nationals Park on the 4th of July, 2011 I saw Cubs pitcher Carlos Marmol throw a wild pitch to Ivan Rodriguez, allowing Jayson Werth to score the winning run from third base in the tenth inning.
Web site maintenance
I spent much of the day developing a new Web page that should be finished tomorrow. Those of you who are familiar with my Web page navigation system should be able to find it if you're really curious. I'll be doing some Web site maintenance in the next few days, such as updating the Stadium diagrams page, which shows how many diagram variants there are for each stadium -- multi-year, football, lower-deck, etc.
For the time being, I am postponing conversion of my stadium pages to HTML 5, which will eventually make those pages much more "mobile friendly." Once I do such a conversion, there will probably be separate versions of each stadium page, with the full "desktop" versions being more easily accessible to those who have already Registered. (Hint!)