Strasburg, Railroaded: Nationals 6, Phillies 0

Something something hustle grit, playing the right way. Dog days. - Patrick McDermott

It's time to put the tired bloviations of slump commentary into heavy rotation.

When my sons were coming through their stroller years, we made it a point to get out to Strasburg Railroad. We started with the railroad's Strollerpalooza! event, but as the Thomas the Tank Engine years waned we still enjoyed heading across the street to the wonderful Pennsylvania Railroad Museum. As the summer weather now bends toward cooler days, I recommend it highly. Pretty country out there in Lancaster County. You drive by big white 3-story barns with eaves open drying large plugs of tobacco. The corn is being harvested. The bees think that warm days will never cease.

Please bear with me. My point is that there are pleasant memories for me of something named Strasburg. You can have them too. If Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg stays healthy (which is a big doubt), this next decade of N.L. East baseball will include regular appearances of him, Matt Harvey, Zach Wheeler, and Jose Fernandez. It's the only pretty picture you'll get. Because this afternoon in Washington, this happened.

Go on, click it. I'll wait.

Kind of a sad mirror of the Atlanta play Liz posted last week, huh?

In sum: Stephen Strasburg was as wonderful as the Phillies were putrid. Ineffably bad. Strasburg threw a complete game 4-hitter, striking out 10 while walking one. Jayson Werth was 3-4 at the plate with three cookie cutter, step-in-the-bucket singles to left.. Kyle Kendrick wasn't really all that bad, but Lord, he wasn't good either, and he was up against Strasburg, so what did you expect? There was a brief glimmer of hope early in the game when Strasburg came off the mound awkwardly with either a back or an ankle tweak, but stayed in the game.

Michael Martinez started the game in center field. Which reminds me of a few points:

1. There's no redeeming quality in watching Phillies baseball right now, but I will be entertained by the broadcast team. There were a few outstandingly ironic passages today, the first being when the booth threw it to Greg Murphy to explain Charlie Manuel's decision to start the execrable Michael Martinez in center rather than John Mayberry, Jr. or even the recently acquired Casper Wells. While Murphy was relaying Manuel's and hitting coach Wally Joyner's opinions that Martinez was "hot" right now, and that "he was swinging at strikes." The visuals were of Martinez swinging wildly at three balls out of the zone. Now that's good television.

2. Until this spastic colon-laced skid ends, we are going to be entertained nightly by the tired bloviations of slump commentary. You know this drill: "Players gotta step up, lead by example," "You gotta play for pride, for the fanbase, for the city you represent," "Guys gotta start getting in each others' faces," etc. Again, the PHL-17 cameramen came to the rescue today: Shots of players laughing in the dugout; Michael Young taking scissors to the baseball; Cliff Lee joking around with home plate umpire John Hirschbeck, Cole Hamels sitting amidst the three, clearly amused. This is the stuff that will draw certain fire. (On cue, Larry Bowa started in on it on the postgame show, as if we should all forget how his moody, hair-trigger emotional slumparific clubhouse directly impacted results.) On the field, Kyle Kendrick melted into a fuzzy-chinned, incompetent sweat puddle on the mound, culminating in the clip I have forced, nay compelled you, to watch.

On to Atlanta this week before coming back home to face the Dodgers.

ALL ABOARD DA FUGGEDABOUTIT EXPRESS wooooooooooooo woooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!


Source: FanGraphs

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