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Josh Willingham hits 100

Morning roundup

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."


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.


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.


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.

By Adam Kilgore  |  June 23, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
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Next: Ivan Rodriguez makes history


Hey, Adam, how about a story on Marrero? Statistically, he's having a good year. Is he still a prospect? Is he still a big part of future plans? Is he going to get a September call up? Is he Dunn's replacement and, if so, when?


Posted by: baltova1 | June 23, 2010 8:35 AM | Report abuse

Over at NFW, Brian added one more line about the game--Thompson allowed 3 unearned runes on a Marrero throwing error. He is close but still has to work on his defense and become a Nick Johnson glove with a Dunn bat first baseman.

Sec 204 Row H Seat 7

Posted by: adhardwick | June 23, 2010 8:56 AM | Report abuse

I fear we may get the opposite with Marrero - Dunn's glove & Johnson's gap power, without the plate patience of either.

Posted by: BinM | June 23, 2010 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Marrero is still only 21. He has plenty of time to polish skills; no need to rush him.

Posted by: edr04 | June 23, 2010 9:54 AM | Report abuse

>>2 observations:
Bottom 4th, bases loaded none out and Atilano up. The skies are turning black and there's about to be a long rain delay. Pitchers never do well and some never even return after a rain delay. I know Ati was pitching well and wouldn't have gotten the win if he was removed at that point, but you've got to think ahead and a little outside the box here knowing the game is about to be stopped for awhile. Atilano should have been pinch hit for by Morse. Sure enough he struck out and we were lucky to get 1 run out of the inning and he only lasted 1 more inning because of the delay. Think ahead. Morse could have blown the game wide open there.

Next: How long are we going to tolerate non-errors errors by Kennedy on blown double plays. The guy is simply awful in the field. Thought he wa supposed to be a defensive wizard. He never gets called for the errors because he gets one out but he blows so many sure double plays. Some have cost us the game. Last night it could have but luckily it didn't. But he simply can't field routine hard grounders. Enough already.Posted by: dovelevine

>>I don't think you'll find many supporters, dove, on lifting Atilano in the 4th. Hindsight is perfect, we know, but a lot of times what looks like heavy rain turns out out be a few sprinkles. And your move would have taxed the 'pen even more.
This is the NL. Pitchers hit. Situations like this are going to come up. Riggs is not a weatherman. Ya gotta live with it.
Posted by: nats24

Any delay at all involving the tarp being put on is going to be at least 45 minutes. Before Atilano even came up to bat, Carpenter made a statement that there was soon going to be a delay and even before the tarp went on he said it would be at least 45 minutes. So anyone with common sense, not just weathermen, knew what was in store.

If you're a manager, you've been thru this a 1000 times. If I can figure it out, if Carpenter can figure it out, then Riggs should be able to figure this out.
Atilano wasn't coming back for much if anything. He should have been pinch hit for there even though it was only the 4th.

Posted by: dovelevine | June 23, 2010 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Marlins fire fredi Gonzalez; don't get comfortable, riggs

Posted by: swanni | June 23, 2010 10:15 AM | Report abuse

"When a stadium tried to find him, a wall of teammates blocked it."

Maybe MASN's ratings wouldn't be so bad if they focused on stuff like this instead of the boring ballgames. Who wouldn't watch Battle with Godzilla Stadium?

Posted by: nunof1 | June 23, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Anyone else have an odd feeling like me about today's game? SS on the SI cover, article in DTE about whether he should be an All-Star, pre-game discussion about how the Nats will sweep because he's on the mound. And 100 degrees plus likely 80+% humidity at game time and batters with very little power... Maybe I'm just not used to our boys being heavily favored and just need to get used to it!

Posted by: natslifer | June 23, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

How do they pick the minor leaguers for the Futures game? I feel like I haven't heard much about Eury Perez, but I admit I don't follow the minor leagues to heavily. His stats must be good, no?

Posted by: PattyinSJ | June 23, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Ling-Ling Shapiro is just as dull in the Atlanta Constitution as he was for his four decades at the local rag. Can't this hack spell "r-e-t-i-r-e-m-e-n-t?"

Posted by: Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me | June 23, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Have to say I was disappointed in the crowd reaction last night to Willingham's milestone. A few years back I went to the game when Ronnie Belliard hit his 100th and he got a big curtain call. Last night's response was muted, to say the least, even for a decent crowd of 21,000-plus.

Posted by: rodeorob | June 23, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

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