Apr 24, 2010, 3:41 AM EST
Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Luis Atilano couldn't have scripted a better big-league debut.
Luis Atilano was 6 the first time Ivan Rodriguez squatted behind the plate in a big-league game. It would be a few more years before Atilano became a Pudge fan, but like every other kid growing up in Puerto Rico, it was bound to happen.
Flash-forward 19 years and 1,500 miles north, where on a gorgeous April evening in the District, Atilano made his major-league debut with none other than Rodriguez as his batterymate. That the right-hander, stuck in the minor leagues for the last seven years, tossed six innings of one-run ball to lead the Nationals to a 5-1 victory over the Dodgers only added to the moment.
"It's crazy. It's been my dreams," Atilano said. "After seven years, I made it finally. I pitched to Pudge Rodriguez, hopefully a Hall of Famer. I can't ask for nothing better than that."
The Nats couldn't have asked for anything better out of a rookie pitcher making his debut against the majors' best-hitting club. Even without Manny Ramirez — who was placed on the DL today with a strained calf — the Dodgers boasted a formidable lineup that has averaged more than six runs per game this season.
So when Atilano carved this way through Los Angeles' batters with ease, scattering five hits over six innings, it felt like a shot in the arm for a Nationals team desperately seeking some consistency fromRead more »
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