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A win, and what came beforehand

I just filed my game story for tomorrow's paper, so I'll hold off on any excessive rehashing of today's dramatics. But this game had all the compelling components: Aaron Boone (after a failed bunt attempt) launched the go-ahead home run in the eighth. Starter Collin Balester reached seven innings for the first time all year. (That's counting not just 10 previous starts in the majors, but 15 starts earlier this year with Class AAA Columbus.) And yes, the Nats have now won six in a row.

But let me digress, because hey, that's what blogs are for.

Garrett Mock picked up his first major league victory today, and it was well-earned, too. He pitched a scoreless eighth, dodging a first-and-third jam with a strikeout and a flyout. "Huge," Manny Acta called Mock's escape.

Just so happened that Mock received an unexpected from his parents, who showed up unannounced at Nats Park this weekend. Bobby and Becky Mock hadn't seen their son pitch in two years, since he made his Class AA debut. Turns out, their timing couldn't have been better. Mock has pitched well this year for the Nats, especially since moving to the bullpen, where he's allowed four runs in 12 innings (3.00 ERA). But for the longest time, nothing Mock tried could help him be a part of a win.

Take note:

On June 8, Mock was called up to the majors for the first time, a spot start. He took the loss, and Washington fell, 6-3, against San Francisco.

On June 9, he was returned to Columbus.

On June 21, he was called up again for a one-time start. The Nats lost 13-3 against Texas.

Mock returned to the big leagues on July 23 for what ended up being an eight-game stretch. The Nationals lost every game. (They opened a four-game winning streak just hours after Mock was sent back down.)

Then, on August 7, the Nationals recalled Mock again. They were winners, at the time, in six of seven games. They promptly lost their next 12.

The bottom line: Washington lost the first 22 games in which Mock was a part of the roster. Only last week did Mock experience a victory. Today, he earned his first major league win. The wait -- as well as those watching -- made him appreciate it all the more.

By Chico Harlan  |  August 31, 2008; 7:08 PM ET
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Next: From Nationals Park


Nice that Mock's folks could be there to see it!

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 31, 2008 7:17 PM | Report abuse

Amen to that 1A! I had no idea that Mock was a Jonah no more. He is a starter, with at least 4 pitches, which makes him better than most in the bullpen. And he is a great guy. May he have continued success!

Posted by: flynnie | August 31, 2008 7:23 PM | Report abuse

I'm so glad I'm not in the path of Hurricane Gustav, having been in the path of many. Our prayers and best wishes go to those poor folks who will ride it out. May Gustav's strength be sapped, and may all of you be spared!

Posted by: flynnie | August 31, 2008 8:20 PM | Report abuse

I'm with you on that, flynnie. Hope that those in the storm's path will stay safe.

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 31, 2008 8:24 PM | Report abuse

Wow, this is a cool angle, Chico. Thanks.

Posted by: John in Mpls | August 31, 2008 8:35 PM | Report abuse

Mock is no doubt thankful that MLB hasn't borrowed the plus/minus stat from the NHL.

I was kind of surprised that they went to Colome in the ninth. Whatever gets you through the day, I guess.

Posted by: Hendo | August 31, 2008 8:44 PM | Report abuse

Chico Are there any 2005 New Orleans AAA players with the Nats now? Might be worth a side bar.

Posted by: ptbnl | August 31, 2008 8:50 PM | Report abuse

Admirable goal: 13 - 12 will mean they finish 27 - 27 over the last two months. 65 wins will still 3d to 5th pick in the draft.

Posted by: PTBNL | August 31, 2008 9:09 PM | Report abuse

So for those of you scoring at home - hit or error?

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 31, 2008 11:15 PM | Report abuse

That's a hit in my book, 1a, and I think it gets scored like that in most parks across the country. Even if the barehand works, Sabathia would have had to make a perfect throw.

As much as I'd have liked to see Sabathia get the no-hitter tonight, the hit call seems pretty secure on that one. Sabathia was on the wrong side of the mound, picking the ball up facing the wrong way.

Posted by: faNATic | August 31, 2008 11:20 PM | Report abuse

Zephyrs announce 2005 opening day roster

The Z's will also have some of the Nationals best prospects with 1b Larry Broadway, 2b Brendan Harris, RHP Josh Karp and centerfielder Tyrell Godwin. Six foot, eleven inch pitcher Jon Rauch, a 2000 US Olympian will be one of the starting pitchers and holds the record for tallest pitcher in Major League Baseball history.


Pitchers (12) Micah Bowie, Hector Carrasco, Roy Corcoran, Mark DiFelice, Chad Durbin, Josh Karp, Sun-Woo Kim, Gary Majewski, Brian Powell, Jon Rauch, Dan Smith, Ed Yarnell.

Catchers (2) Hector Ortiz, John Wilson

Infielders (5) Carlos Baerga, Jason Bowers, Larry Broadway, Brendan Harris, Rick Short

Outfielders (5) Matt Cepicky, Endy Chavez, Dan Dement, Tyrell Godwin, Jeffery Hammonds.

Posted by: cat daddy | August 31, 2008 11:50 PM | Report abuse

When Sabathia has already turned and is facing first, arm coming up to throw a ball he doesn't have, the runner is only about 75% of the way to first. Usually scored a hit, but here I don't, not for the first hit of the game, in the fifth. Let them get a solid hit, and then go back and change it to an error (I know, I know--situational scoring. So I'm a heretic, polluting the purity of the stats. Sue me.) I think if he picks up the ball cleanly there he gets him, but it would have been a bang-bang play. CC can put the ball down there at 90+, remember, and the throw wouldn't have to be perfect, just catchable without leaving the bag.

Posted by: CE | August 31, 2008 11:55 PM | Report abuse

Of course, that should have read, "Score it an error, and if they get a solid hit afterwards, then go back and change it to a hit."

Posted by: bass-ackwards | August 31, 2008 11:59 PM | Report abuse

2005 New Orleans Zephyrs

This has all players who appeared on their roster that year. Only current Nat I see who doesn't appear to be on rehab was Jason Bergmann.
Most of the familiar names were here, and are gone, three years later.

Posted by: cat daddy | September 1, 2008 12:04 AM | Report abuse

Jason Bergmann was called up from New Orleans in 2005 the day before Katrina hit the city. There were some good stories about it and his situation at the time.

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | September 1, 2008 12:05 AM | Report abuse

"The bottom line: Washington lost the first 22 games in which Mock was a part of the roster."

I noticed that a the time, but if the baseball gods choose to Mock us by adding bad puns to injury, it seemed awfully harsh to throw this poor kid overboard as bad luck.
Still, after a dozen games or so, the human sacrifice nominations were flowing thick and fast in here anyway, and much higher up the food chain than some AA pitcher.

Posted by: CE | September 1, 2008 12:09 AM | Report abuse

Baltimore is at 63-73, we're at 52-85. that's 11 games difference, +1 extra that we played (and lost.) So we're 11.5 behind It's gonna be hard to catch em, but it would be amusing if we did... :)

Posted by: SF Fan | September 1, 2008 12:15 AM | Report abuse

Best line from Chico's gamer:

"The Nationals claimed an 8-4 lead by the time the bottom of the eighth ended, all part of a charge in which their revived offense treated Atlanta's relievers like a charcoal grill treats ground chuck."

Posted by: Juan-John | September 1, 2008 5:36 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for weighing in on the Brewers game, guys.

I just flipped my Nats calendar to September and see that the featured player is - GUUUZZZ. Hope that he'll get the nod for NL player of the week as Charlie and Dave were speculating over the weekend.

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 1, 2008 6:48 AM | Report abuse

With full benefit of hindsight I'd call it an error. He did not need to barehand. His choice. His miss. His error.

Elwood! Welcome back, buddy. Please stay close.

Let's play two!


Posted by: SlowPitch63 | September 1, 2008 8:11 AM | Report abuse

Atlanta is reeling in many ways right now.
Short term, the starting pitcher from yesterday, Jurjenns, stated "It sucks to be swept by the Nationals." Long term the people in Atlanta feel like they have only one foundation player, McCann, other than 37 year old Chipper Jones. They also do not have any surplus parts left to trade to fill the holes in their lineup. They are grim when they view their chances on the free agent market. Next season we should be able to pass Atlanta in the standings.

Posted by: Dale | September 1, 2008 9:04 AM | Report abuse

snicker snicker...accompanied by the tomahawk chop song in dirge mode...

Short term, the starting pitcher from yesterday, Jurjenns, stated "It sucks to be swept by the Nationals."

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 1, 2008 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Hi Chico,

I just read this blog for the first time. It is much better writing than the purple, mixed metaphor prose that plagues so much when reading your stories in the print edition.

When you tell just the facts, you are a very good writer.

Posted by: paul | September 1, 2008 10:10 AM | Report abuse

PTBNL, I like your goal. FWIW, in past Septembers (05-07, in order) I believe that the Nats have gone 12-15, 14-12, and 15-13.

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 1, 2008 10:25 AM | Report abuse

I think literary criticism is always more effective went it's made by someone who has a decent understanding of how to write. Not to mention proofread.

Welcome, Paul!

Posted by: Bob from Sesame Street | September 1, 2008 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Nice little streak they are putting together,however we should not be fooled nor should the Lerners if they're serious about turning this thing around. Zimm,Guzz,Dukes,Flores and Milledge are the core to build on they have a few pitchers that can hold their own, a new manager and coaching staff would be a start and showing Jimbo and Stan the door would ensure the fans that this ownership is serious about winning baseball.

Posted by: | September 1, 2008 11:35 AM | Report abuse

And welcome, Paul, to the good-natured snark of Planet NJ!

I think literary criticism is always more effective went it's made by someone who has a decent understanding of how to write. Not to mention proofread.
Welcome, Paul!
Posted by: Bob from Sesame Street | September 1, 2008 10:56 AM

Posted by: CE | September 1, 2008 1:02 PM | Report abuse

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