The Washington Times - July 24, 2009, 08:59PM

There’s a word to describe players who perform really well at Class AAA but just can’t seem to duplicate it at the major league level. They’re called “4A” players. As in, better than Triple-A, but not good enough to be in the big leagues.

Unfortunately, Garrett Mock seems to be fitting that description. The right-hander was fabulous in eight starts at Syracuse, going 5-1 with a 1.52 ERA. But he struggled earlier this year in D.C., and has done the same since returning to the rotation this week.


In his first start back, Mock lasted only 3 1/3 innings against the Cubs, allowing seven runs (four earned) and eight hits. Tonight against the uninspiring Padres, he lasted 5 1/3 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) and nine hits. The big blow came in the top of the sixth, when three singles set up a two-run base hit by Luis Rodriguez (who had earlier homered). Rodriguez is a .194-hitting journeyman infielder. Over his last 40 games entering tonight, he was batting .167 with no homers, two RBI and a .206 slugging percentage that I didn’t think was mathematically possible.

Well, tonight this same Luis Rodriguez is 2-for-3 with a homer and three RBI. Has he suddenly figured out how to hit, or was Garrett Mock simply not up to the challenge of facing him?

Down 5-1 when Mock was pulled by Jim Riggleman (who has been showing some fire from the dugout steps tonight), the Nats did get one run back on Ryan Zimmerman’s solo homer over the left-field bullpen in the bottom of the sixth. Otherwise, though, they were stymied by Padres rookie Mat Latos, a top prospect who is making only his second career start.