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Young stars rise to the occasion

Jun 9, 2012, 5:17 AM EST

Associated Press photo
Stephen Strasburg struck out 13 over six dominant innings in his Fenway Park debut.

BOSTON — They've been playing baseball in this cozy little yard for 100 years, and the names who have excelled on this field read like a guest list to some exclusive dinner party in Cooperstown.

Ruth. Cobb. Williams. Mantle. Musial. Yastrzemski. Griffey. Pujols. They all stood in the batter's box at Fenway Park.

Johnson. Grove. Feller. Gibson. Ryan. Clemens. Martinez. They all toed the rubber in the center of this baseball cathedral.

Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper don't belong among the company of those names, not yet. But the two young stars of the Nationals know the history of this game and know the history of this place. And when they stepped between the white lines at Fenway Park Friday night for the first time during a 7-4 victory over the Red Sox, they knew it wasRead more ยป

  1. waddu eye no - Jun 9, 2012 at 5:50 AM

    just woke up . great way to start a day. gotta put on my nat hat and go run.gyfng.

  2. Joe Seamhead - Jun 9, 2012 at 10:41 AM

    I am just aglow over all things Nationals right now. I don't particularly like the inter league schedule but this year's is pretty cool for exposing the Washinton Nationals to the national sports media, and to baseball fans everywhere. Not just Strasburg and Harper, but the whole team has a chance to shine in the bright city lights through this part of the schedule. I'll guarantee you that many a Bosox fan left the stadium duly impressed last night, not to mention millions more that watched on the tube.Mark, one of your best commentaries yet. Nicely written!GYFNG!

  3. Drew - Jun 9, 2012 at 10:43 AM

    In case anyone's wondering, the rookie home run records are out of reach:NL — 38 — Boston Braves' Wally Berger in 1930 and Cincy's Frank Robinson in 1956.AL — 49 — McGwire with Oakland in 1987.

  4. Drew - Jun 9, 2012 at 10:59 AM

    The Kid (born 10-16-92 ) has a shot at the record for most home runs by a teenager — 24 by Tony Conigliaro.One to watch in the first phase of his career: Youngest to 100 homers was Mel Ott at 22 years and 132 days.

  5. sjm308 - Jun 9, 2012 at 11:12 AM

    Just perused some of the other sites and watched Davey's press conference and Kristina's interview with Strasburg after the game. Not only are we playing great baseball, how great is it to NOT have to listen to Debbie Taylor's inane questions and actually get questions that lead to intelligent statements, plus Davey is so refreshing compared to sourpuss Riggs (who I actually really liked). Kinda nice to hear that SS went to Ankiel for advice about the curveball. This is another example of how this team actually really works together to help each other. Great mix of veterans and youngsters. I was excited yesterday, nothing has changed.Go Nats!!!

  6. MicheleS - Jun 9, 2012 at 11:13 AM

    I love waking up after a win. It could be raining buckets and I would still think the sun is shining. My rose colored glasses are firmly in place and I am about to have my morning koolaid. I plan on enjoying this win for awhile (at least until 4pm)!!!!GYFNG!!!!

  7. djinFl. - Jun 9, 2012 at 11:15 AM

    You have to read the first paragraph at least

  8. djinFl. - Jun 9, 2012 at 11:26 AM

    Actually there are 3 very good articles in the Boston Herald today. The boys really impressed their beat writers last night.

  9. The Fox - Jun 9, 2012 at 11:45 AM

    Mark nice quote from Saltalamacchia. When the guy you strike out especially the catcher says your pitcher is a great pitcher its hard to get a better complement. Its been mentioned before how other teams players stop and actually watch Strasburg pitch but now their stopping to watch Harper's at bats. There is no higher complement than that.You may like or dislike Boston's fans but they are some of the most knowledgeable and boisterous and our guys pretty much left them speechless. Strasburg had the bases loaded and the fans were mostly watching him not cheering their team. When I'm sitting next to baseball fans of the other team either at home or on the road I usually get into a friendly baseball discussion and they all ask about Strasburg and Harper and my response has become, they are as good as the hype. Its sure a lot more fun being a Nationals fan and I never miss a Strasburg start and now I can almost never miss a Harper at bat.

  10. The Fox - Jun 9, 2012 at 11:48 AM

    Sorry for grammar mistakes, haven't had my coffee yet.Cool story djinFl thanks.

  11. JayB - Jun 9, 2012 at 11:48 AM

    And me too….Harper is just amazing to watch. My team growing up was the Red Machine. Harper plays like Rose and is smart like Morgan and clutch like Perez….that is 3 Hall of Fame players (Rose I know)…..He is just much better than I ever though he would be at 19 or even 22 really.I did not see him play this hard in the Minor Leagues and College. Has he stepped that part of his game up? I knew he was a baseball rat and I knew understood the game and appreciated true baseball history but……now I know he is heading towards one of the all time great players. He is better than anyone on the field right now.

  12. The Fox - Jun 9, 2012 at 12:03 PM

    JayB,Now if we could just get Harper to field like Concepcion. A friend of mine said he did not get the triple so he did "fail" at hitting for the cycle. I responded that there still is room for improvement ๐Ÿ˜‰.

  13. Gonat - Jun 9, 2012 at 12:17 PM

    I have seen a JB posting and JayB. Are you all the same person?

  14. Joe Seamhead - Jun 9, 2012 at 12:20 PM

    Harper's jump on the ball in the outfield has already improved dramatically since he got up here. Davey has said all along that Bryce would get better quicker by being up here with him. He was right. Again.I can't help but to speculate as to how things would be different for Harper, and for us as fans, if our previous manager had stayed.

  15. Joe Seamhead - Jun 9, 2012 at 12:22 PM

    Gonat said…I have seen a JB posting and JayB. Are you all the same person?June 09, 2012 8:17 AM——————Maybe JB and JayB are first cousins to Good Henry and Bad Henry?

  16. Gonat - Jun 9, 2012 at 12:26 PM

    Joe, LOL. What about Good Lidge and On The Lidge?

  17. baseballswami - Jun 9, 2012 at 12:28 PM

    Bryce and Strassie are both so intense and competitive – sometimes I wonder if they both want to win so badly, or if they just have so much pride in their games that they can't stand the humiliation of failing on a big stage. Just won't even consider the possibility. Both just seem to have another gear they can kick into.

  18. jeffwx - Jun 9, 2012 at 12:29 PM

    how often in the history of the game are what could be one of the generation's greatest pitcher and hitter on the same team.

  19. Gonat - Jun 9, 2012 at 12:30 PM

    That Nady catch really changed the complexion of the game as it was 3-2 at that time.Nady hasn't done much however he has made the highlight reel 3 times now for the Nats in a significant way.

  20. Gonat - Jun 9, 2012 at 12:32 PM

    jeffwx said… how often in the history of the game are what could be one of the generation's greatest pitcher and hitter on the same team. June 09, 2012 8:29 AM __________________________Hows about when the generations best pitcher was also the best hitter. Yes, his name was Babe Ruth.

  21. Gonat - Jun 9, 2012 at 12:42 PM

    In Spring Training, when Bryce went thru that weekend vs. the Yankees and looked very overmatched that I was convinced he wasn't ready.Now this KID is the best position player on the ENTIRE Nats team. Yes, the entire team.I can't believe I am saying this. Unfortunately its a product of how poorly Zim is playing and the fact Morse was injured and LaRoche's numbers fell off. Desmond is the 2nd best position player on this team.

  22. The Fox - Jun 9, 2012 at 12:44 PM

    Joe Seamhead, Harper's jump on the ball is fine and his arm is a cannon, knowing where to throw the ball still needs a little improvement. I'm not complaining its all OJT and I'm sure he will be fine once he plays there awhile. I was reading the 3 articles that djinFl mentioned and buried in one of them is this Right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka will start today, one day shy of the one-year anniversary of having Tommy John elbow surgery. To open a roster spot, the Red Sox are expected to designate outfielder Marlon Byrd for assignment.Now I don't hate our bench as much as most people here do, however if the Nats can bring Marlon home so to speak for nothing I might be intrigued.

  23. Doc - Jun 9, 2012 at 12:50 PM

    I'm sure that Bryce had good support at 'Cuse, but the difference in his performance between AAA and The Bigs is the opportunity to learn not only from Davey, but the daily advice he gets from some solid pros.They should appreciate Harps in Fenway–he's got Teddy Ballgame's brain when he's in the batter's box.

  24. NatsJack in Florida - Jun 9, 2012 at 12:56 PM

    How refreshing to read a positive post, JayB. Good job.

  25. jeffwx - Jun 9, 2012 at 1:01 PM

    Hows about when the generations best pitcher was also the best hitter. Yes, his name was Babe Ruth.==================================================yeah, but they never played together ๐Ÿ˜‰

  26. Gonat - Jun 9, 2012 at 1:07 PM

    NatsJack in Florida said… How refreshing to read a positive post, JayB. Good job. June 09, 2012 8:56 AM _____________________________Yes, yes it is. On the other hand, the bench is contributing like Nady last night and Bernadina for the last month and the fact that Ankiel is FINALLY a bench player where he should have been.Our favorite bench player Corey Brown had the GW RBI last night with a Grand Slam.

  27. Gonat - Jun 9, 2012 at 1:09 PM

    Also of mention again and again is how much better Danny Espinosa is from the right side.

  28. NCNatsie - Jun 9, 2012 at 1:20 PM

    My first MLB game was Aug 9, 1953, Fenway Park. Ted Williams hit his first home run after coming back from the Korean War. Over my head, a few rows to the bullpen side of the right field stands. For the next 50 years or so I was a diehard Sox fan.I rooted for the Nats from Day 1, and was at Game 1 in Nats stadium, but last night marked a true transition when I realized I was unequivocally and seriously rooting for them against my old team. The transition is complete.But how cool was it for Pedroia to say, "Nice job" to Harper when he hit his home run.

  29. ehay2k - Jun 9, 2012 at 1:21 PM

    I think all there is left to do is to teach Bryce to pitch. Then we could have our own version of Ruth! :-) Seriously, he is fun to watch, and if you consider how raw he really is at the moment, there is a lot of upside. Think about that for a minute. Ahh, a good morning indeed!

  30. MicheleS - Jun 9, 2012 at 1:23 PM

    Gonat.. I hate to say this as well – because I love RZ. I watched Bryce's first 5 games at home live and in person (Baseball – it's my addiction). And I knew by the second game that Byrce was the best player on the team. It was scary how he approached everything. The adjustments he as made after every at bat (sometimes within an at bat). I think the only thing that concerns me is when he throws to the plate. He just needs to pay more attention to where the base runners are and throw the appropriate base. I know.. It's nit picking, but geesh is that kid good!!! Plus he is Bieber – we better be prepared for the teenage girls (I know I have a niece that is drooling) that will invade the park.

  31. ehay2k - Jun 9, 2012 at 1:24 PM

    Jeffwx, there was no abomination known as the DH back then, so Ruth and Ruth took the filed together with the same frequency as Harper and Strasburg. Ruth pitched a lot of complete games, however, so he was on the field with himself a lot longer. :-)

  32. Section 222 - Jun 9, 2012 at 1:40 PM

    Mark, this piece just about brought tears to my eyes. And the Koolaid in here is addicting. so much fun to read the comments this morning.How great is it to have two young stars with not only amazing raw talent but the ability to rise to the occasion at the big moment in a big game. I have more confidence when Harper strides to the plate with men on base than anyone on the team. And I just knew that Stras would get through that jam in the 6th. Kudos to the Red Sox players for not being all sour grapes after a tough loss and tell it like it is about our two future Hall of Famers. That's class.

  33. NatsJack in Florida - Jun 9, 2012 at 1:54 PM

    On Bryce's influence on the Nats veterans, I believe the Nady infield hit last night was a direct result of watching how hard Bryce runs everything out.

  34. Drew - Jun 9, 2012 at 2:01 PM

    Ruth was a truly great pitcher — .671 winning percentage, 17 shutouts, 2.28 career ERA.As for dynamic duos, Henry Aaron and Warren Spahn were a nifty tandem in Milwaukee.Willie Mays and Juan Marichal had some big years together.But it would be hard to top the pairing of Lefty Grove and Jimmie Foxx for the Philadelphia A's of 1930-32. Their numbers are extraordinary.

  35. sjm308 - Jun 9, 2012 at 2:45 PM

    Not only the players but the fans as well. No one was throwing Harpers HR back onto the field. They were not booing the kid in the field but in fact cheering for him.The TV guys also mentioned how during the middle of innings there is no music played, no games on the scoreboard, no Cliff (or whatever his name is) and certainly no wave. It's just baseball at Fenway, the way god intented it to be.Go Nats!!

  36. sjm308 - Jun 9, 2012 at 2:46 PM

    Drew:What about Chuck Stobbs and Wayne Tewilliger??

  37. baseballswami - Jun 9, 2012 at 2:50 PM

    I was watching some highlights/clips from last night's mlb action and I saw something very interesting — Jason Heyward absolutely hustling, taking the extra base, scoring – it was like a different player. Did our Bryce teach him a little bit of a baseball lesson? Defenses have to be more on their toes, pitchers are more careful with him – everyone playing around him on both teams seems to be affected by his play. I even think some of our guys are stepping up their game a little bit, not wanting to be shown up by the kid. It's a cool thing to watch. I am a little surprise by how the Boston fans have reacted to the Nats in general. Maybe they just like to watch talented baseball players.

  38. NatsLady - Jun 9, 2012 at 2:58 PM

    Maybe they just like to watch talented baseball players.I do. McCutchen killed us and I'm glad he's gone–but I sure had fun watching him.

  39. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jun 9, 2012 at 2:58 PM

    Gonat/MicheleS, yes, it is true Harp is the best position player on the field right now but that is more a by-product of how poor his teammates are performing. Lombo and Desi are both playing better than expectations.

  40. m20832 - Jun 9, 2012 at 2:59 PM

    Really good writing Mark. The win last night showed that our Nats will be good for a long time!GYFNG!!!!

  41. baseballswami - Jun 9, 2012 at 3:08 PM

    In Mark's title — "Young Stars…" and it would be so easy to fall into the out- of- town media Harper/Strasburg tunnel vision. What I love is that we have more than one rookie making his mark — Lombo has been so good, but he sits out a game and Moore shows us his stuff! Espi is not a rookie, but a young player with crazy defensive stuff who has the capability to be a great hitter as he showed last night. Desi and Zim are still young stars, too. There are more than two – we seem to be loaded with them right now – that is just so very cool.Harper/Lombo/Moore — all rookies! I saw the picture of Gammons with BHarp – is there a written piece or a video interview upcoming from that? If anyone hears anything please post because it will surely be special. Only a few more hours of euphoria left from last night's game and then we play again. I hope Gio is at his utmost Gio-ness. He has played there before but he gets excited sometimes.

  42. Drew - Jun 9, 2012 at 3:09 PM

    SJM308 –I grew up watching the expansion Nats. Twig was a fine third base coach. The Nats just didn't get enough guys to third.

  43. NatsLady - Jun 9, 2012 at 3:11 PM

    Unbelievably, the oddmakers were right: the M's beat the Dodgers (1-0 in the combined no-hitter). Nats favored today at -110 to -120.Go NATS!!

  44. jeffwx - Jun 9, 2012 at 3:17 PM

    Gonat, et al. indeed, Ruth was probably the best pitcher and hitter duo to play on the same team together. I like the Spahn/Aaron combo. Growing up Yankee, I have to consider Ford/Mantle also. First game a bat day doubleheader in the bronx in 1971. Scary to be in the bronx with a bunch of NYers with bats.And to think that Stras/Gio/Zimmnn will be our top three for some time to come…Dopamine is flowing this morning…don't need the prozac today.

  45. Scott from Burke - Jun 9, 2012 at 3:18 PM

    natslady..oddsmakers arent trying to determine who is going to win..they're picking a number so the betting public will wager the same amount of money on both sides…since they get the vig they win every time

  46. jeffwx - Jun 9, 2012 at 3:20 PM

    Anyone know when Matheus is reinstated to the pen ?

  47. Scott from Burke - Jun 9, 2012 at 3:21 PM

    best hitter /pitcher combo on same team…greg maddux/chipper jones…jim palmer/frank robinson…randy johnson/ken griffey jr

  48. jeffwx - Jun 9, 2012 at 3:22 PM

    Johnson/Griffey Jr hard to beat

  49. jeffwx - Jun 9, 2012 at 3:23 PM

    Steve Carlton/Mike Schmidt

  50. NatsLady - Jun 9, 2012 at 3:27 PM

    According to, Mattheus is scheduled to pitch a rehab game tomorrow. Here is the injury list.Nats injury list

  51. jeffwx - Jun 9, 2012 at 3:32 PM

    Thanks NL, bookmarked.Will be interesting to see who moves when Mattheus, HROD, DeRosa, Storen return.

  52. NatsLady - Jun 9, 2012 at 3:42 PM

    Also: Reliever Ryan Mattheus threw in a simulated game on Friday and didn't have any pain in his left foot. He will participate in pitchers' fielding practice on Saturday and pitch in another simulated game the next day. He's on the disabled list with a plantar fascia strain.

  53. mick - Jun 9, 2012 at 3:44 PM

    This is a blast!! Listening to Phil and my man cueball head, love them both. When Werth comes back, I would put him in front of Desmond which would force pitchers to pitch to Werth. If Jayson can hit the 280 he was hitting before he was hurt, I do not see how the Nats score less than 4 runs a gameIf our arms stay healthy, wach out. I notice the damn Giants are 8 over 500 so, the wild Card race gets even more intense.Hope Gio pitches well, are number one and two pitchers should be wins most outings

  54. mick - Jun 9, 2012 at 3:47 PM

    Strass and Bryce are DC's Ford and Mantle!!!!

  55. mick - Jun 9, 2012 at 3:50 PM

    I bet Boston fans are hating life right now, ha ha Hea about too beat the Celtics and Sox maybe about to lose the series to Nats.

  56. NatsLady - Jun 9, 2012 at 4:05 PM

    Your daily dose of KooKaid– our rotation's strikeout rate is historically good!nationals-pitching-has-been-more-than-ok

  57. mick - Jun 9, 2012 at 4:14 PM

    did not know that the last time a Nats team won in Boston was May, 1971, ,an oh man does that bring back memories. that scum bucket Bob short was plotting is move to Texas, Curt Flood went AWOL for the season, Denny McClain was headed to 24 losses and was drugged out half the time or drunk,stupid trade of Mike Epstein for an aging Don Mincher, poor Dick Bosman losing 5 1-0 games, but the good news was the George Allen era was about to begin and back then I had no worries, lol

  58. pRAA - Jun 9, 2012 at 4:34 PM

    The TV guys also mentioned how during the middle of innings there is no music played, no games on the scoreboard, no Cliff (or whatever his name is) and certainly no wave. It's just baseball at Fenway, the way god intented it to be.Well, except for Sweet Caroline in the 8th inning. Thank God they don't do that at Nationals Park any more.

  59. Scooter - Jun 9, 2012 at 5:01 PM

    Really liking the pitcher/hitter combos, y'all. jeffwx already got mine. Thanks.

  60. mick - Jun 9, 2012 at 5:03 PM

    Sweet Caroline ba ba ba, lol

  61. mick - Jun 9, 2012 at 5:03 PM

    Sweet Caroline ba ba ba, lol

  62. Manassas Nats' Fan - Jun 9, 2012 at 6:00 PM

    Sonce my Mother's name was caroline that was her favorite song, but I understand the gans getting tired of it.I hope as the years go we lock these guys up if thing progress as we thin. Would love to see both retire nationals. Was telling my assistant principal the other day, I hope I live long enough to see how Harper and Stasburg do for their career.



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