Garrett Mock still needs to master 'Baseball 101,' plus morning links
Ivan Rodriguez, with 20 major league seasons under his belt, had the right perspective last night. "There's still a lot of games left, the whole season left,"; he said. "t's only four games."
But when your starters are 0 for 4 at retiring one batter in the sixth inning, that does not portend glory. The latest was Garrett Mock, who needed 84 pitches to throw 3 1/3 innings. His talent makes his inability to pitch deep in games frustrating. "Other than Strasburg," pitching coach Steve McCatty said, "he probably has the best overall stuff of anybody here."
But Mock, when he ascends from the minors to the majors, has grappled with "all the things that is Baseball 101 for pitchers," McCatty said -- getting ahead, pitching to contact, executing pitches. "It's been a constant struggle," McCatty said. "You can't throw 80 pitches in four innings. I know he's not trying to do that. I can't say that he thinkns too much or anything like that. I can say that he's probably trying too hard."
Mock still avoided a loss on his record. With two outs in the second, Ian Desmond laced a line drive to left. Jason Bay's dive fell one glove-length short, and the ball rolled to the wall and kicked around the warning track. Desmond slid headfirst into third base for a two-RBI triple, and the Nats led 2-0.
At that moment, Desmond had 10 singles and 16 career extra-base hits, including all three of his hits this year. If only 91 at-bats qualified you for the all-time career slugging percentage title, Desmond's momentary .604 would have placed him eighth, right between Hank Greenberg (.605) and Manny Ramirez. (.590).
Desmond, though, also continued his all-or-nothing rookie season. Josh Willingham led off the sixth inning with a double, and he advanced to third on Adam Kennedy's deep fly ball. The Nationals, in the bats of Ivan Rodriguez and Desmond, had two chances to grab a lead.
Rodriguez, who had two singles, grounded to third base, managing to put the ball in play and still not score the go-ahead run. Desmond's turn. With the count 2-2, he swung over Mike Pelfrey's 92-mph fastball. Willingham walked back to the dugout.
Because the Nationals' overworked bullpen allowed five runs in the seventh and eighth innings, one run would not have mattered, anyway. The game got away from the Nationals in seventh, when Jesse English allowed an single to Fernando Tatis, who had doubled. Jim Riggleman could have used Tyler Clippard, except Clippard pitched 1 2/3 innings yesterday and Riggleman only wanted to use him for a couple batters and only if the Nats had a lead late.
On to the links. ...
FROM THE POST
The Nationals dropped the first game between the two clubs expected to finish 4-5 in the National League East. Pitching coach Steve McCatty lets Garrett Mock know he needs to start throwing strikes and stop making excuses.
NATS MINOR LEAGUES
Syracuse 5, Lehigh Valley 4 (10 innings): The Chiefs scored the walk-off run without a hit. Pete Orr walked, moved to second on a balk, to third on an error and to home on a sac fly by Chris Duncan. Roger Bernadina went 2 for 4 with a walk.
Altoona 6, Harrisburg 1: Aaron Thompson allowed five runs on seven hits and two walks in 3 2/3 innings. In his debut, Drew Storen struck out one, allowing no runs on one walk and one hit (which was, according to well-placed sources, "lame").
Salem 6, Potomac 4: Michael Burgess went 0 for 3 but walked twice, which is significant because plate discipline is one of his most important goals for the year.
Hickory 7, Hagerstown 2: Josh Smoker allowed three earned runs on three hits and two walks in four innings, striking out seven.
FROM AROUND THE WEB
Mike Rizzo explains in detail how the Nyjer Morgan trade came together.
The Rays picked up former Nat Logan Kensing.
Adam Dunn is starting to feel at home at first. There's also a cool tidbit about Tyler Walker helping out Matt Capps with his delivery.
Nats Insider also looks at the pitching problem.
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