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A dramatic team victory

Jul 4, 2010, 2:10 AM EDT


Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Ivan Rodriguez’s game-winning single set off a wild celebration.

Stephen Strasburg has been the center of attention inside the Nationals’ clubhouse from the moment he arrived, and deservedly so. The rookie right-hander has accomplished more in his first four weeks in the big leagues than just about any other pitcher in baseball history.

All along, Strasburg has tried to deflect the attention to his teammates, insisting they are more worthy of it than a 21-year-old with so little service time. But over his last three starts, the rest of the Nationals had done virtually nothing to support Strasburg, providing him with one run of support that resulted in three straight losses.

Just when it looked like the same story would be written once again today, with Strasburg battling to keep his team in the game but everyone else flailing away at the plate against the opposing pitcher, it finally happened. The Nats as a team overshadowed Strasburg as an individual with a ninth-inning rally to remember.

With three hits and three walks in a span of seven batters against Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez — and with one moment of near-disaster thrown into the mix as well — the Nats turned a 5-3 deficit into a 6-5 victory that was as satisfying to everyone inside Nationals Park as any Strasburg outing.

“Today was a reminder of why baseball is so great,” reliever Drew Storen said.

Read the full recap of today’s remarkable game on CSNwashington.com.

  1. Steve M. - Jul 4, 2010 at 2:38 AM

    Mark – What was the question of Strasburg by a reporter about something going on in the bullpen in the 1st inning?

  2. A DC Wonk - Jul 4, 2010 at 3:03 AM

    Mark — Stras said something about how he learned a few things today. Do you, or anyone here, know what they were? (I was unable to see the game, I'm only reading about it now, looking at MLB clips)

  3. Mark Zuckerman - Jul 4, 2010 at 4:20 AM

    Steve: Strasburg was asked if he realized Batista was warming in the bullpen in the first inning. Strasburg's answer: "Why would I be looking at the bullpen in the first inning?"DC Wonk: Strasburg seemed to suggest he learned a couple of things: 1) that he needs to be careful not to "speed up" on the mound and make a point to slow things down a bit, and 2) to take what worked well for him in the bullpen and apply it to the game, not think he can suddenly fix things once he's out there facing batters.

  4. Anonymous - Jul 4, 2010 at 4:59 AM

    @ManassasHe needs to learn to bust the ball on lefties hands too. His pitches to lefties tend to sail to the outside part of the plate and beyond.

  5. Cwj - Jul 4, 2010 at 5:09 AM

    Awesome article Mark!!It truly was one of the best wins of the season.Mark I have a question: Was this, in your opinion, Strasburg's worst outing? And if yes, doesn't that bode well for him? Loaded question of course :) He has still not had a bad outing, but I'd like to see you post you're own evaluation of Strasburg thus far.

  6. Andrew - Jul 4, 2010 at 12:01 PM

    It is nice that a National TV audience got to see the walkoff although I suppose many were watching for Strasburg who wasn't in "debut" form.

  7. Joe Seamhead - Jul 4, 2010 at 12:31 PM

    I was at the game and it was odd to watch at least 20% of the stadium empty out after the kid sat down. They missed a great game, and the remaining faithful really got behind them. I also thought Riggleman dodged another bullet with his peculiar line up, substitutions, pinch hitting and odd, in my opinion, use of the bullpen. If the Nats had just tied the game in the ninth, rather then won, …… oh, well, it didn't happen, why speculate,eh? A really good team win, and a fun one to have been at.

  8. FOTB - Jul 4, 2010 at 12:36 PM

    Great win for the team. That being said, is anyone else shaking their head at Guzman's near-gaffe on third in the 9th? Why wasn't he just standing on the bag while the ball was in the air, waiting to see if it was caught or not? Isn't that Baseball 101 in that situation?

  9. Richard - Jul 4, 2010 at 12:53 PM

    Yeah, I agree with FOTB. It's hard not to conclude that Guzman and especially the 3rd base coach were, er, not as sharp as they should have been there, and it almost cost the Nats hugely. Thank you Willie Harris for saving the day. This is after Friday night's debacle when the Mets noticed Bernadina's too big lead off 2nd base but Nats and especially the 3rd base coach didn't. Okay, something else to worry about …

  10. Steve M. - Jul 4, 2010 at 1:02 PM

    Mark – Thanks for the answer on my question on Strasburg's 1st inning.Also, the All Star picks are revealed today. I think Pudge gets the pick as the Nats representative and Matt Capps. Zim probably is chosen if Polanco can't play due to his injury.Dunn and Willingham both deserve to be there also.If you look at 1st base, there are so many on the list before Dunn:1) Pujols 2) R. Howard 3) Loney 4) A. Gonzalez 5) P. Fielder then you have G. Sanchez and Aubrey Huff that are having very good years for their teams.Willingham is now #1 of NL Outfielders in OBP at .413 but can easily be overlooked but can certainly get added if Manny Ramirez and Heyward and a few others don't play.Zim has Polanco, Wright and Rolen in front of him this year. If Polanco can't play, maybe Zim sneaks in.

  11. Andrew - Jul 4, 2010 at 2:25 PM

    Willingham definitely deserves to be named today. Agree with Matt Capps and Pudge too. First base is crowded for sure.

  12. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Jul 4, 2010 at 2:57 PM

    I hope all you people who are jumping all over Riggs for his "peculiar" lineup realize that helped win the game in the ninth. Riggs had Goozie available because of his "peculiar" move of pinch-hitting J.D. Martin with two out and none on in the fifth. That wasn't a wasted move; that preserved a real pinch-hitter for the bottom of the ninth, when we needed one. Give Riggs a break. This isn't the '27 Yankees he's got here, folks.Get the win today, Stammen, and take three out of four from these overrated NY bums.Happy Fourth of July, Mark, and to all the NI nation. Be happy, be grateful, be thankful, be safe. As Tommy LaSorda would say, "I'm the happiest SOB out there…"

  13. Dryw - Jul 4, 2010 at 3:39 PM

    So far in July, the Nats have one win in a well-played game, one ugly loss, and one ugly-but-we'll-take-it win where they found a way to win a game they could easily have lost. Overall, not a bad start to the month! (but more of the first type of win would be nice…)GO NATS!!

  14. Anonymous - Jul 4, 2010 at 4:03 PM

    So if Dunn's ball had bounced over the fence instead of back into the outfield, would it have been a home run or a ground rule double???

  15. Steve M. - Jul 4, 2010 at 4:10 PM

    Yadier Molina is the starter at catcher and David Wright at 3rd.

  16. Steve M. - Jul 4, 2010 at 4:21 PM

    As expected no Stephen Strasburg on the initial roster. Matt Capps made it as I thought he should! Congrats Matt!!!!!

  17. Dryw - Jul 4, 2010 at 4:22 PM

    Way to go Matt!

  18. Buzz Killjoy - Jul 4, 2010 at 5:04 PM

    Anonymous said… So if Dunn's ball had bounced over the fence instead of back into the outfield, would it have been a home run or a ground rule double??? It seemed obvious that the ball did not touch the padding on top of the wall before it bounced back into the field. It begs the question as to what are the criteria for over-ruling on on-field call – or non-call, as the case may be.However, I'm fairly certain that had the bounce gone the other way and out, it would have been ruled the richly deserved "Walk-off Granny" that it seemed to be.

  19. Knoxville Nat - Jul 4, 2010 at 5:30 PM

    Sunshine_Bobby,Good point about Riggs using Martin as a PH earlier in the game. One of the reasons why I prefer the National League game over the DH American League version is a move just like this. With only a limited number of bench players to use late in the game it affords the opportunity for a manager to sometimes out maneuver the opposing skipper. I wonder what the critics here would say had Riggs actually batted Guzman in that earlier situation without success and not had the extra bat available in the 9th when needed?

  20. Mrs. Z. - Jul 6, 2010 at 5:03 PM

    If anyone is interested in the specific "ground rules," both universal and for specific stadiums, you can find them here:MLB Ground Rules for Umpires

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