Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Unless you've been living under a rock for the last 12 or so hours, you obviously know that Stephen Strasburg was scratched from his scheduled start on Tuesday night at Nationals Park. Strasburg was having trouble getting loose in his pre-game warm up. As a precaution, Nats GM Mike Rizzo shut him down immediately. With a scheduled first pitch at 7:05 PM, Strasburg was shut down at around 6:55 PM. There will be plenty of opportunities in the next few hours and days to gossip about Strasburg when we learn more about what the team is calling his "shoulder inflammation." But for now, there is one guy who deserves all of the credit.
Miguel Batista was given approximately 10 minutes to warm up for a start, a process that most starters take the course of the afternoon to do for an evening game. When Batista comes in from the bullpen, he usually warms up over the course of several innings. But last night, there was no time. But the results were shockingly impressive.
We here at Capitol Baseball have expressed our share of Batista criticisms both on the blog and casually to friends. All I have to say about his one start last night: wow. While his ability to deal with inherited runners is still questionable, his "stuff" was certainly not in question. In his first start since 2008, Miguel Batista pitched 5 innings of 0 run, 3 hit ball. He walked only 1 and struck out 6. A truly outstanding performance.
It probably didn't hurt that the 1st place Braves came into the game expecting 100 mph moving fastballs and 91 mph change ups. While Batista isn't a slouch, his fastball is in the low 90s and was effective as it has been all season. But Batista was outstanding.
The bullpen certainly did its part, too. With Batista starting the game, someone needed to take over his long/middle relief role. That person was Sean Burnett, and no I'm not kidding. Burnett pitched a nearly flawless 2 innings of baseball. He gave up 2 hits and didn't walk any. Storen came in to set up and may have been one of his best outings of the year. He got 3 outs in 8 pitches, and his curve ball was dancing. Finally, All-Star Matt Capps came in to get his 25th save on the season. He got the save on just 10 pitches.
The offense produced early. Nyjer Morgan quite literally manufactured a run, stealing 2nd, then 3rd, then got home on an error on the throw to 3rd. Ian Desmond had an outstanding game, with a 2 RBI single that gave the Nats the 3-0 lead that stuck for the rest of the game. Desmond went 2 for 3 on the night. Also, after my Desmond rant on July 7th (that I later recinded), he has committed just 2 errors. I'm not saying that was me... but...
So it turns out the Nationals can actually win baseball games without Stephen Strasburg. Even if Strasburg was scheduled to start that very game. As a Nationals blogger and just a fan of good baseball, I sincerely hope that Strasburg's issues were nothing more than a little bit of inflammation and he'll be ready for his next start. But only time will tell if the Nats will decide to shut Strasburg down a week or two early as a precautionary measure. More on this, with commentary, as it develops.