Josh Willingham hits 100
In the fourth inning last night, the video board at Nationals Park played a highlight clip of Josh Willingham's most important home runs. "That was pretty neat," he'd say later. The last homer of the montage had been hit just one inning prior. It was the 100th home run of his career.
The crowd stood and cheered, and Willingham's teammates turned from the top step of the dugout and chided him to take a curtain call. Willingham stayed in the dugout. When a stadium tried to find him, a wall of teammates blocked it. Coming out to tip his helmet would not have been like him. "Probably not," Willingham said. "It wasn't like they were screaming."
You could tell Willingham enjoyed the moment, but he didn't want to take too much time to revel in the milestone. It has always been his style, and it's how he arrived at this point. The Florida Marlins drafted Willingham in 2000 in the 17th round out of the University of North Alabama. "My goal wasn't to get to the big leagues," Willingham told me this spring. "It was to be the best player I could."
Ten years later, with the Washington Nationals, Willingham hit his 100th career home run.
"It will probably mean even more when I look back at my career when I'm done playing," Willingham said. "Right now, I never set a goal to get to a certain number of home runs. But when you get to 100 or something like that, it's pretty cool."
FROM THE POST
How good is Stephen Strasburg? He will make his fourth start today, and already there is debate about Strasburg becoming an all-star this season.
The Nationals and Matt Capps didn't make it look easy in the end, but they won their second straight, a 4-3 victory over the Kansas City Royals they hope leads to a hot streak.
NATS MINOR LEAGUES
Class AA Harrisburg infielder Danny Espinosa and Class A Hagerstown outfielder Eury Perez will both play in the Futures Game, a pre-all-star showcase for minor leaguers, on July 9.
Charlotte 6, Syracuse 4: Boomer Whiting went 1 for 2 with a double and three walks. Shairon Martis allowed two earned runs in six innings on seven hits and two walks, striking out three. He lowered his ERA to an even 4.00.
Harrisburg 4, New Hampshire 3: I wrote yesterday the Senators were off because off their all-star break; that was a mistake. Chris Marrero went 2 for 4 with a home run, continuing a torrid run. Marvin Lowrance went 3 for 4 with a double. Aaron Thompson allowed no earned runs in 6 1/3 innings on seven hits and no walks. Rafael Martin walked one and struck out two in 1 1/2 hitless, scoreless relief innings.
Vermont 6, Connecticut 2: Blake Kelso went 2 for 5 with a double. Mark Herrera allowed no earned runs on three hits and no walks in two innings, striking out one.
FROM AROUND THE WEB
The Nationals must sweep the Royals today, Mark Zuckerman writes.
Maybe Matt Capps should have had last night off, Fire Jim Bowden argues.
Leonard Shapiro, writing for the Atlanta Journal-Constituion, got former Senators announcer Charlie Brotman's thoughts on Stephen Strasburg.
Strasburg is focusing on fundamentals, Bill Ladson says.
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