Busch Stadium shadows make life tough on hitters

October 7, 2012

When Bryce Harper came to the plate in the top of the third inning of Game 1, he got the first sense of what hitters at Busch Stadium would have to deal with for most of the rest of the afternoon: The shadows creeping through the batters box, out in between the mound, making hitting much more difficult.

“It didn’t help,” Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki said. “It didn’t help at all. You try to not really put too much emphasis on it and kind of mentally check yourself out, but it’s definitely not one of the things that you get excited for, that’s for sure.”

From the third through the late innings, the shadows played some sort of havoc with hitters, creeping further out toward the mound. The issue will come up again in Game 2, which starts at 4:37 p.m. ET Monday, 90 minutes later than Sunday’s start time.

“When they’re throwing, you don’t see spin real well,” Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche said. “The ball looks dark and you can’t pick up spin. If you’re not seeing that, it’s tough to read sliders, curveballs.”

Which could account for part of the reason Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright, who has an exceptional curveball, struck out 10 batters in just 5-2/3 innings. Eight of those strikeouts came after the shadows moved between the plate and the mound.

By the time Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman came to the plate in the seventh inning, when Cardinals reliever Edward Mujica was pitching, there was a three-field effect.

“It was light at the plate, dark in the mound, light in the batter’s eye,” Zimmerman said. “If it’s all one, whatever. …

“It’s definitely not the greatest feeling. I’d rather play at either night or at 1. But what we have to keep saying is they have to go through the same thing. They don’t turn the shadows off for them. You just have to grind it out.”

Barry Svrluga is the national baseball writer for The Washington Post.
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Katie Carrera · October 7, 2012