Apparently, the Rockies only play well when facing the mighty Stephen Strasburg and the first place Washington Nationals. Last night’s 5-1 victory marked the second time in the past two weeks where Colorado conquered the young phenom.
Hosting the Nationals in Denver last week, the Rockies got blown out twice (12-4, 12-5) and won two close games (4-2, 11-10) in the initial series between these diametrically different squads.
Now, the Rox find themselves in Washington D.C. for three final games before the All-Star break mercifully brings an end to a most miserable first half of the season.
Despite beating Strasburg once again, there’s still a good chance Colorado will start the second half with the worst record in all of baseball.
The Nats, meanwhile, are coming off a sweep of the Giants and they look like they’ll stayin first place atop the NL East going into the break. But even though I must admit to having an affinity for the Nats, I can’t say I loved their ballpark.
At least we got that going for us in Colorado. Make no mistake: Coors Field is not a problem for the Rockies; it might be the only great thing about the organization right now.
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After visiting the infamous Camden Yards in Baltimore and the underwhelming Citi Field in Queens, we hopped on a bus back to Washington D.C. to stay with my sister, feeling the end of our ballpark tour approaching. Two games left in D.C. before flying home to Copenhagen: first, Nats vs. Pirates, and then an interleague game between cross-town foes, both in first place – Nats vs. Orioles – the final chapter in The Battles Along the Beltway.
After the Nats took the first two games in the series, the Pirates were dismissed as pushovers. Yet, with league parity existing now more than ever, it’s hard to complete a sweep against anybody.
Well, maybe not the Rockies who were swept four times at home in the first half of this season alone.
In this particular game, Pittsburgh’s superstar centerfielder Andrew McCutchen made sure there would be no need for brooms. He performed a spectacular juggling catch in the outfield and whacked two homers (one to right, one to left).
James McDonald had a no-hitter going for the Buccos into the sixth inning (with 11 Ks), lulling the home crowd to sleep while revealing clusters of gold-and-black clad fans who’d made the trip from Pittsburgh to see their team win in the nation’s capital.
Final Score: Pirates 5, Nats 3.
Being a city full of transplants, Washington D.C. often sees its baseball stadium full of fans rooting for the visiting team, which must have some psychological and/or motivational effect on the Nationals and their followers. It’s notoriously bad when the Phillies come to town. But there’s another city along the Beltway that’s even closer to the District, whose fans attempted a ballpark coup the very next night.
Baltimore fans flocked to D.C. in droves for this highly anticipated matchup between the most unlikely of division leaders – Nats and Orioles, neighbor cities sharing a significant amount of their fan base with each other – electrified the entire region and re-affirmed a reason for interleague play.
On the other hand, the Rockies will not be looking forward to expanded interleague play next season, having gone an all-time MLB worst 2-13 against AL teams this season (the Nats went 10-8). In fact, the Mariners, Angels, and A’s were responsible for three of those four sweeps of the Rockies in Denver; just imagine if we would’ve had to host Texas, too.
Walking to Nationals Ballpark is a nice and easy half hour from Eastern Market, which can easily turn into an hour-long stroll around the newly refurbished waterfront walkways just outside the stadium. The once notoriously gritty area now feels more open for exploration, if only a bit sedated.
It’s never been necessary to get tickets beforehand to a Nats game,apparently. Or sothe locals will tell you.
Famous last words, says I.