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Shairon Martis: Pitching Nonpareil

"I never thought I'd throw a complete game, but now I've had it, I know there's more coming." - Shairon Martis

Today, Shairon Martis threw the sort of baseball game that comes around only when everything works. Baseball isn't fertile ground for star-alignment, but today, at Nationals Park, that's exactly what happened. Every last thing was working for Martis and his team. The Nats won, 6-1. And the real question was, When did a Washington pitcher last throw a better game?

You could argue that this was the best starting pitching performance of the Manny Acta era. Martis, just 22, threw a complete game. He retired the first 14 hitters. He faced 31 hitters overall, allowing five hits and one solo homer. He walked nobody. He struck out six. He painted the corners and kept the ball low and worked quickly and didn't lose velocity. In fact, he sprinted toward the finish line. Seven pitches in the eighth. Fifteen pitches in the ninth.

Yup, it was the first nine-inning complete game since Acta became manager. Asked afterward if he could think of a better pitching performance during his tenure, the manager paused and guessed that maybe Odalis Perez pitched a really great game last year. But nothing Perez did last year even comes close.

Since the franchise moved to DC, the Nats have seen just two complete game shutouts.

One came Aug. 4, 2005 -- John Patterson against the Dodgers. (That was a four-hit, no-walk, 13-strikeout performance... probably the best outing, still, in Nats history.)

The more recent complete game shutout came Aug. 15, 2006 -- Pedro Astacio against the Braves, a two-hitter.

This wasn't a shutout, but you could argue that this was the best performance since.

In 2007, the Nats had zero complete games.

Last year, they had two, but both were eight-inning complete games (both losses), one from Tim Redding, one from Jason Bergmann.

Said Acta after this game: "Moments like this, games like this, they're worth five of those losses that we had before. Because this is what we're working for here -- to develop these type of kids."

By Chico Harlan  |  May 2, 2009; 4:39 PM ET
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best pitching performance in nats history was when ramon ortiz took a no no into the 9th against none other than st louis. i was there, about as electric as rfk ever got. he also hit a bomb in that game.

Posted by: formerlylove1 | May 2, 2009 4:48 PM | Report abuse

The Patterson outing is still one of my fave in-person Nats games. The Wilk had a grand slam in that one, too.

And I second Manny re. such moments.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 2, 2009 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Gimme $100 on Dunkirk in the Derby.

Posted by: 6thandD | May 2, 2009 5:05 PM | Report abuse

I guess this was Manny's Plan Z to deal with the bullpen till Joe Beimel returns--have all the starters throw complete games. ;-) Seriously, it was great to be there, such a huge relief and a lot of fun. Thank goodness for our sakes that Shairon stayed in Viera, rather than play in the WBC, so that the team cd realize that he belonged in the rotation. BTW, we sat fairly close to about 15 guys with a big DR flag, all in new Los Nacionales T-shirts, who were having a great time waving their flag any time a DR Nat came to the plate. They were so much fun that Clint made their section the one for the trivia question. All in all, the most enjoyable day I've had at the ballpark this season.

Posted by: Section109 | May 2, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

With the exception of the Philadelphia game, Martis has been pretty consistent this year.

Here are his numbers without that game:

IP:24.1 -- Hits:21 -- BB:8 -- K:10 -- ERA:3.36

Martis will never be an overpowering pitcher but he has shown us that he can overpower when he's on his game.

If he doesn't walk many batters, he'll win many games.

I think his potential (remember, he's just 22) is as a #3 starter, having lots of 14-10, 3.60 type seasons.

Posted by: rushfari | May 2, 2009 5:31 PM | Report abuse

martis pitched an absolute gem. so glad i decided to go to todays game instead of thursdays game. my daughter had a blast too.

Posted by: MrMadison | May 2, 2009 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Manny, I like you. But please don't sully today's spectacular performance with a vague reference to Odalis Perez. That's uncalled for.

Posted by: SorenKierkegaard | May 2, 2009 5:49 PM | Report abuse

So where's the front-page story on a very newsworthy win? Nowhere that I can see. Why do Post sports editors think that a Redskins minicamp is more important than a sport that's in season?

Posted by: cjohnson1 | May 2, 2009 6:35 PM | Report abuse

It might be because the Caps playoff victory over Pittsburgh is a much bigger story. I am very happy to read about the Nats win but I am also embarrassed to say that I thought that they were playing tonight!

Posted by: MKadyman | May 2, 2009 6:39 PM | Report abuse

stumbled out of the gate. Mine That Bird!

Posted by: 6thandD | May 2, 2009 6:50 PM | Report abuse

Said Acta after this game: "Moments like this, games like this, they're worth five of those losses that we had before."

Oh, so that explains why the Nats lose five out of every six games.

Manny, Manny, Manny...

Posted by: jdschulz50 | May 2, 2009 7:57 PM | Report abuse

cjohnson1 wrote: "So where's the front-page story on a very newsworthy win? Nowhere that I can see. Why do Post sports editors think that a Redskins minicamp is more important than a sport that's in season?"

What's even more objectionable to me is that six hours after the conclusion of the game, WaPo was still running the AP's 200-word lead -- not even the optional lead with quotes. And the featured game story in the "Nationals" section of the website is last night's game. Ugh!

Posted by: COL_DFox | May 2, 2009 7:57 PM | Report abuse

I've seen a number of Washington pitching performances better than Maris'. The names that come to mind are: Ramos, Pascual, Porterfield.

But he's got a long way to go to be spoken of in the same breath as Walty.

Hang on it's going to be a fun ride.

Posted by: Catcher50 | May 2, 2009 9:39 PM | Report abuse

I don't recall seeing anyone mention him in the same story, nevermind breath, as "Walty" but OK. I don't disagree.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | May 2, 2009 10:04 PM | Report abuse

That, by the way, was plan Z. Avoiding the bullpen altogether.

Posted by: JohninMpls | May 2, 2009 11:01 PM | Report abuse

What an idea!: Letting somebody who's pitching well keep pitching. It took the total collapse of the pen for Manny to think of it. As much as pitchers are pampered today, it doesn't seem like arm injuries have been reduced much (even before Money Ball helped make working the count such a priority). Personally, I'd like to see guys go deeper in games even if the Nats had a better bullpen.
Bravo, Shairon! He seems like he gets it. I just hope it's not a flash of brilliance like Bergmann showed us a couple of times.

Posted by: nats24 | May 3, 2009 12:33 AM | Report abuse

i love manny, but i would like to see him let pitchers go deeper into games, and bunt more, and steal more. be aggressive, what do we have to lose?

Posted by: formerlylove1 | May 3, 2009 12:48 AM | Report abuse

Also forgot to give respect props to Anderson Hernández for that amazing defensive play (and (not surprisingly) got #1 in BT's web gems!)

Posted by: HotNats | May 3, 2009 1:05 AM | Report abuse

steven shell is a mariner...or rather a tacoma rainier, the aaa affiliate of the m's

Posted by: formerlylove1 | May 3, 2009 1:12 AM | Report abuse

...And if you try to look for the lead on yesterday's Nats game in tomorrow afternoon's Sports front, it'll already be gone from there, it always is...

Posted by: evanescent_panoply | May 3, 2009 1:47 AM | Report abuse

Umm, the current link from the sports page leads to something about Georgetown and the Nittany Lions. I swear I clicked on the Nats link...

Posted by: swang30 | May 3, 2009 4:07 AM | Report abuse

Carrying forward in a Pujols/poo-holes vein:

LOL, JiM! Wish I could have heard more clearly the exchange between Dibble and Carpenter during a Pujols at-bat in the 7th (that was at the point where we had the dueling broadcasts with the Spanish-speaking dudes). I believe Dibble was saying something to the effect that Pujols probably didn't use deodorant but rather dabbed at his armpits with fruit and flowers. And something about his wife crushing on (eewwww) Matthew McConaughey. Didn't specifically mention Carpenter's crushing on him, but...

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 3, 2009 6:40 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 3, 2009 6:44 AM | Report abuse

On Pujols, that is, not McConaughey.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 3, 2009 6:44 AM | Report abuse

The difference with young managers like Manny(who still needs to go!) is that they have bought into the whole pitch count psyche handicapping their starters making some of them think they can't go nine,Frank Robinson was criticized for leaving starters in too long when in truth the starters had been brainwashed by their agents and others that certain pitch counts threatened their careers, Leo Mazzone ex-pitching coach of the Braves and Orioles is old school and not a proponent of pitch counts his philosophy is to "let em throw as long as they got control and are not getting shelled". I agree, we ruin young pitchers by convincing them they can only throw a certain amount of pitch's, young hurlers are vulnerable because they are of the mind that they can only throw so many innings that needs to stop. Manny's bullpen is a work in progress(ya think?) let the starters go out and pitch and see what happens hey at this point what does this team have to lose?

Posted by: dargregmag | May 3, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Washington IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Bergmann (W, 1-1) 7.0 3 0 0 2 9 0 7.45
Ayala (H, 11) 1.0 1 0 0 0 0 0 5.63
Rauch (S, 9) 1.0 1 0 0 0 0 0 2.61


Posted by: rbelleisle | May 3, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

I think that Shairon Martis will be a REAL good 'un. I've watched him for a long time, and he consistently throws unhittable stuff including a tailing 94 mph fastball, punctuated by little mental mistakes that cost him dearly. But the ratio of unhittable stuff to mistakes is increasing, and as he matures the mistakes may become much rarer. I think that he has the real potential to become an ace.

And, in case nobody's noticed, Martis can handle the bat pretty well.

With Zimmermann we have a core of what could become a very good starting rotation. Lannan and Cabrera have disappointed me -- Lannan simply may not have the arm to be more than a journeyman in the majors, and Cabrera, with all the arm in the world, doesn't have the head -- but Scott Olsen seems pretty solid most of the time (and he too swings a pretty good bat).

But Acta, with his hard 100 pitch count limit, is just weird. It's as if we have Adrian Monk as our manager. Now, I'm not saying we should do to our young guys what we did to Tom Cheney back in his still-record 21-strikeout game -- let them go 17 innings and blow up their arms forever -- but young guys can throw more than 100 pitches, and sometimes WAY more, particularly with the modern five-man rotations.

And remember, Tom Cheney wasn't all that young when he pitched his marathon.

One last comment: I REALLY like Rob Dibble! Carpenter, however, needs some serious work, particularly regarding the nature of traditional baseball jinxes. He just flouts them unabashedly, and then they seem invariably to come home to roost on us. You can hear Dibble wincing every time Carpenter says something taboo.

Posted by: FergusonFoont | May 3, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

on jinxes: to be fair, you could pick almost anything--it could be whistling the Jeopardy! theme song during odd-numbered innings--as taboo, and bad things would happen most of the time when someone does that, because 1) this is baseball; bad things happen more often than not, no matter what you do; and b) this is the Natinals, and bad outcomes happen WAY more often than not, no matter what you do.
Which is not to say I would mention a no-hitter in progress, or the name of the Scottish play backstage. I'm no Dylan Thomas, but I'm not a damn fool.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | May 3, 2009 11:09 AM | Report abuse

pitch counts: you can't just take someone who's thrown on a pitch count most of their life, and one day just leave them out there. Most of them haven't developed the endurance, and few are born with it. Pitching a baseball is a very unnatural motion for our bodies, and operating at the extreme end of our physical capacity is damaging. That's why so few people (out of billions) can do it well for years at a time. Even distance running, something our bodies are excellently built for, isn't something you just start doing one day. You don't take milers and throw them into marathons overnight--most of them will break down.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | May 3, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Great Game to watch in the park.

REAL progress for Acta in that he is learning that sometimes your best chance to win is with your starter. Almost impossible to believe but true I guess...that was the first complete game pitched since Acta came to town.....I hope that opened his eyes to a new way to win a game. One he NEVER, ever, ever had tried.

Dunn still needs a day off. He can not play 162 games this year. Willingham still needs to play. Yes my timing of days off is off....big picture though I am pretty pleased with the team and my pre season responses to Chico's questions.....I had A Hernandez as the best surprise before the season started and now that Acta has his head out of his....and has him hitting 8th I think he is going to be great for us this year. I had Milledge as the worst decision at the start of the year and that is true for sure. I had Olson pitching the most innings....I still like that pick fine even though Steven on C H is hating life now....I like Olson with his fastball touching 91 MPH. He is a competitor and wants to win and finish games. That is just what we need and ACTA needs to promote that not baby starters.

If Manny can continue to take Rizzo's direction on getting tough on players and calling the kettle black when it is and stay with starters who are the best option to win games, then this team will win fine and Acta will keep his job (for the rest of the year).

Posted by: JayBeee | May 3, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse

I don't know whether pitch counts are saving young arms, or ruining them--I'll let the SABR people argue that out, although it must be more of a non-baseball decision today, with multi-million dollar investments at stake, than it used to be in, say, Frank's day, when players had no agency and the team had no great investment in any one of them.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | May 3, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Only JayBeee could mix a single metaphor.
("calling the kettle black" is not considered a good thing, J. I think you wanted "calling a spade a [AB] shovel.")
Stay thirsty, my friend.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | May 3, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: JayBeee | May 3, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

I went to Friday nights game and yesterdays game, the atmosphere was lights out in comparison. Martis is the real deal and so are Zimm+2. One win doesn't set the record straight for Acta in any way but at least he let the guy go out and win it for himself. Imagine if he took Martis out in the 7th, brought in the parade of bullpen pretenders and the Cardinals won 7-6. Thank the lord for small favors, Manny must have had to take a dump at the same time Martis grabed his glove and ran out to the mound to start the 9th.

Posted by: TippyCanoe | May 3, 2009 11:37 AM | Report abuse

"Dunn still needs a day off. He can not play 162 games this year. "

Why not? In the past six years he has played 161, 160, 160, 152, 158 and 158. He obviously does not need many days off to maintain a high level of production.

Posted by: nunof1 | May 3, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Don't know if (or how) the Nationals will get today's game in - there's a fairly heavy cell over Manassas/Woodbridge right now, moving NNE.

Posted by: BinM | May 3, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

That is a day off a month and he has not gotten it for April and it is now May....that is why he needs a day off soon and Johnson also needs many days off to keep from braking down and to keep his trade value up. Both these will get facts should get Willingham more AB's.

Johnson, Kearns, Milledge need to be traded for Pitching. Both Johnson and Kearns will be gone next year anyway and Milledge not playing for a Rizzo team that is for sure.

Posted by: JayBeee | May 3, 2009 11:56 AM | Report abuse


I agree with you about Johnson, Kearns and Milledge they need to be traded. But, it's only May. The trade talk doesn't usually heat up until July so, I think those guys will be around a few more months, at least.

Posted by: Section505203 | May 3, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

"That is a day off a month and he has not gotten it for April and it is now May."

How many scheduled off days and rainouts did they have in April anyway? Five or six? Including at least once where they had two days off in a row? Dunn certainly shouldn't need a rest yet.

Posted by: nunof1 | May 3, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

I disagree on Johnson. If he continues to produce and does not get hurt, they should sign him to a two or three year deal around the All Star Break. He is surely one of the most valuable players on this team. Dunn is not a first baseman either now or in the future, aside from occasional backup days there.

Posted by: nunof1 | May 3, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse


The key to your statement about Johnson is the big "If" factor regarding injury. I like Johnson as a player and a quiet leader. But, he has not shown he can stay healthy, even before his time with the Nationals organization.

It's not really "if" it's "when" does he get hurt.

Posted by: Section505203 | May 3, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

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