In the immediate aftermathÂ of one of this season’s more-than-typical collapses — in which nothing worked — the Washington Nationals rebounded for a 2-0 defeat of the Cincinnati Reds, in which everything worked. Garrett Mock, on the heels of a steady start against the Showboats (which he won 5-2) pitched a six inning gem and the Nats took the second game of the four game set against the Redlegs 2-0. Mock got into trouble in the sixth inning, when he loaded the bases, but he was able to pitch out of the jam. Other than that, Cincy’s bats remained silent and Mock remained steady; he threw 101 pitches, 59 of them for strikes.
After a shaky outing on Thursday, the Nats’Â bullpen was superb, with Jorge Sosa, Sean Burnett, Jason Bergman and Mike “Heart Attack” MacDougal blanking Dusty Baker’sÂ pitching-light Red Stockings through three perfect innings. MacDougal sailed through the ninth, recording his twelfth save. The game could not have been scripted any better: the starting pitching was strong, the relievers looked untouchable and (while the Nats were not overpowering at the plate) the Anacostia nine got hits when they needed them — on improbableÂ solo shots from Wil Nieves and Ronnie Belliard.
Down On Half Street: The clock is ticking on the deadline for signingÂ first overall pitching messiahÂ Stephen Strasburg. Bill Ladson and the Washington Times are reporting that the NatsÂ met with Strasburg last week inÂ Southern California. Ladson reports that team officials came awayÂ from their meeting impressed by the young righthander. If he is signed, Strasburg may be called to the big club in September . . . It seems notionally true, particularly in the wake of Jordan Zimmermann’s impending Tommy John surgery, that the Nats may need Strasburg more than ever. But that knife (so to speak) cuts both ways. The Nats are in a need of a young starter — true — but Zimmermann’s injury points up the fragility of young arms, particularly as the Nats were careful not to overpitch J.Z., setting strict limits on his pitch and game numbers . . .
As Ladson points out,Â David Clyde and Ben McDonald are the only other two pitchers in MLB history to be drafted #1 andÂ pitch in theÂ majors in the same year.Â Clyde was rushedÂ into the Rangers’ rotation (as a way of bringing fans to the park) and didn’t pan out, while McDonaldÂ battled arm problems duringÂ a curtailed career . . . Scott Boras is apparently telling reporters that Strasburg deserves the same levelÂ contract (about $50 million) as Daisuke Matsuzaka. If true,Â Boras may want to rethink his peroration: Dice-K is 1-5 with an 8.23 ERA and is battling “shoulder fatigue. He is probably out for the season . . . Everyone is remaining silent on the Nats’ chances and most particularly Strasburg’s agent; but that’s not unusual for Scott Boras, who usually negotiates to the last second . . .