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Ivan Rodriguez makes history

Morning roundup

For one night, here's what really didn't matter: Ivan Rodriguez was hitting .264 at the start of last night, with a .291 on-base percentage, a .636 OPS and a 71 OPS+. He had grounded into 19 double plays. He had 10 walks and 41 strikeouts. The start of this season, when he was a doubles machine who led the league in hitting, seemed a long time gone.

No, none of that mattered. Rodriguez offered a reminder, as he has done a few times this year, that what we're watching behind the plate for the Nationals is history. Rodriguez hit his 300th home run as a catcher. Only four men had ever done that: Piazza, Fisk, Bench, Berra. First names unnecessary.

Now add Pudge. He rocked a fastball from Rodrigo Lopez over the left field fence in the second inning last night. It wasn't cheap either, about a 400-foot shot. Fans will get to say they saw, teammates will get to say they played with him.

"I don't know how to rank him yet; he's not done yet," Adam Dunn said. "He's one of the top catchers ever to play the game. I feel fortunate."

Rodriguez is not the same caliber of hitter or even kind of hitter he was year ago. At one point in his career - in a different era, one filled with ugly questions across the sport - Rodriguez was a force of nature. In 1999, he hit 35 home runs, slugged .558 and won the American League MVP. In 2000, he may have had an even better season. He hit 27 home runs, drove in 83 runs and punched up a 1.042 OPS - and only played 91 games because of injury. At 38, he is a different hitter altogether.

"Absolutely," Rodriguez said. "They start to pitch you different. You've got to go with what they try to. Basically, I'm an opposite-field hitter. I hit the ball the other way with authority. But I never considered myself as a home run hitter. I consider myself a gap hitter, hit the ball hard. Basically, that's what I've been doing for my whole career."

Rodriguez is 218 hits away from the biggest milestone left out there for him. No player who played his entire career at catcher has pounded 3,000 hits. His pace has slowed, but he remains in impeccable shape - his trainer of 15 years, Edgar, attended the game with his father - and he is determined.

"There are some milestones he's still trying to reach," Manager Jim Riggleman. "There's a couple more big ones not in the immediate future, but there's a couple more there."

He crossed out one of them off Monday night. Rodriguez had not hit a home run since May 16. He realized he had 299, but it did not start to wear on him. He knew it would come. Look at Alex Rodriguez, he reasoned, stuck on 599.

"That's baseball," Rodriguez said. "Hitting a home run is not easy to do. But I'm glad that I hit it. I'm happy about it."

FROM THE POST

The Nationals beat the Diamondbacks, 3-1, behind Livan Hernandez's gem and Sean Burnett's rare, five-out save.

The Orioles introduced Buck Showalter amid their train wreck of a season and it felt different from past hirings, Dave Sheinin writes.

NATS MINOR LEAGUES

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 6, Syracuse 5: Jason Marquis allowed one earned run in six innings on three hits and two walks, striking out four. Wilson Ramos went 2 for 4.

Harrisburg was off.

Potomac 6, Lynchburg 4 (11 innings): Stephen Lombardozzi went 3 for 6 with a double. Bill Rhinehart, just named Carolina League player of the week, went 3 for 5 with two doubles. Joe Testa, acquired in the Matt Capps trade, allowed no earned runs in two innings on two hits and no walks, striking out two.

Lexington 9, Hagerstown 4: J.P. Ramirez went 1 for 3 with a home run and a walk.

Tri-City 10, Vermont 1: Wade Moore went 2 for 3 with a walk.

FROM AROUND THE WEB

Sean Burnett got a rare chance in the ninth, Mark Zuckerman writes.

Even before his homer, Ivan Rodriguez believed he had plenty of baseball left, Jesse Sanchez says.

Mel Antonen thinks Adam Dunn could still get traded. (Me, I don't think he'd get through waivers.)

Nationals Baseball has a nice take on the Nats' trade deadline outcome.

By Adam Kilgore  |  August 3, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
 
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Next: Updates: Yunesky Maya, Jordan Zimmermann, Jason Marquis

Comments

AK, any idea what was going on with Livo and the home plate umpire last night?

Posted by: SCNatsFan | August 3, 2010 8:23 AM | Report abuse

This looked nice in the minor league report: "Jason Marquis allowed one earned run in six innings on three hits and two walks, striking out four. Wilson Ramos went 2 for 4."

Posted by: gilbertbp | August 3, 2010 8:36 AM | Report abuse

SCNatsFan, a group of people had put up a sign protesting Arizona's immigration law. Livan pointed it out, and the whole stadium cheered as they ripped it down.

Posted by: futbolclif | August 3, 2010 8:55 AM | Report abuse

futbolclif, at one point the ump wouldn't give Livo the ball at the start of an inning, Livo kept asking for it. Was after that incident, was at the start of the 5th/6th.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | August 3, 2010 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Gotta like seeing our two newest Nats, Ramos & Testa, both had good games last night.

Posted by: 1stBaseCoach | August 3, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

You've got a bad link for the Zuckerman article.

Posted by: truke | August 3, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

They should have cheered when they put it up.

Posted by: truke | August 3, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

the Zuckerman Burnett link should be
http://natsinsider.blogspot.com/2010/08/burnetts-rare-ninth-inning-moment.html

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | August 3, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

This looked nice in the minor league report: "Jason Marquis allowed one earned run in six innings on three hits and two walks, striking out four. Wilson Ramos went 2 for 4."

Posted by: gilbertbp | August 3, 2010 8:36 AM

So before we hit Labor Day, the rotation could possibly be... Strasburg (maybe, briefly), Livo, Olsen, Zimmermann, Marquis?

Even if they just swap out Stras for Zimmermann, which might make sense, our pitching is starting to look up.

Posted by: Kev29 | August 3, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, just keep ignoring the obvious about IRoid. Fudged didn't just lose all that weight by doing Jenny Craig. Get your heads out of the sand Nats fans and c'mon Kilgore - just when I started thinking the Nats finally have a Wa Po Baseball writer you do this. Those other catchers you listed were real players. And please this guy's not even close to Johnny Bench!!! Get back on track AK!!!

And who the heck is Zuckerman??? And why would anyone care!!!

Posted by: Dog-1 | August 3, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

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