“You can’t start off the game giving up a 3-spot,” the pitcher said. “It’s not fun to play back from that.”
But the 25-year-old pitcher brushed aside that inauspicious start and began retiring batters.
In that regard, Mock acquitted himself well. He allowed just one other run after the first inning and wound up retiring the last eight batters he faced before leaving after the sixth with eight strikeouts and one walk.
“I think it would have been more important to start on a good note,” he said. “If I could have started out and gotten into a rhythm from the get-go, I think that would have been a very important thing that would have helped us win the game.”
The Nationals trailed only 4-3 when Mock was pulled. And they put themselves in prime position to at least tie the game (or possibly go ahead) when Dmitri Young and Ronnie Belliard each reached base to open the sixth.
But the ensuing rally - or rather, the attempted rally - encapsulated this game for the Nationals, and in many ways the season. Felipe Lopez, needing only to move the runners up, struck out on three pitches (the last a breaking ball in the dirt). And though Paul Lo Duca singled to load the bases, Wily Mo Pena flied out to shallow center and pinch-hitter Kory Casto lined out to short.
Inning over. Nationals still trailing by a run. Mock still in line for the loss.
“To me, baseball is like boxing,” Acta said. “If I don’t hit you, you’re going to hit me. And that was basically the case for us today.”
By Elaine Donnelly
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