In Manny Acta’s first two seasons as Nationals manager, the only two pitchers to record complete games were Tim Redding and Jason Bergmann. And those didn’t really count because they went eight innings in road losses where the bottom of the ninth wasn’t necessary.
Well, the times, they are a changin’. Officially, the Nats have recorded three complete games this year: One by John Lannan, one by Shairon Martis and one by Ross Detwiler (which was only 5 2/3 innings because of rain). But today Scott Olsen was given a chance to go the distance against the Braves. And though he came up one out short, the fact he was allowed to stay in shows that Acta is beginning to trust his young starters to pitch deep.
Acta insists his philosophy on such matters hasn’t changed.
“My philosophy goes according to how the guy’s pitching,” he said. “If the guy is not pitching good, he can have 35 years in the big leagues and he’s going to be out of there. If the guy is pitching well, he’s going to stay in the game.”
Still, when Olsen saw Acta walk to the mound in the eighth inning today, he assumed (like everyone else in the park) that he was coming out. Instead, Acta told him he was staying in.
“It was good,” Olsen said. “It gave me confidence that he had confidence in me. I’d like to see more of that.”
The Nats would like to more of Olsen the way he’s looked since coming back from the DL. In two starts, he’s allowed five earned runs over 15 2/3 innings, and his velocity and command are much improved.
Couple other quick hits before I wrap up for the day…
— Nyjer Morgan is really impressing people around here. He made a difference at the plate (3-for-5, two doubles, a stolen base) and in the field today (a couple of nice routes on deep fly balls, plus a great job throwing out Martin Prado at second after coming up just short on a diving catch. “Phenomenal,” Olsen said. “A great, great pickup for us. He can flat out run the ball down better than most center fielders I’ve seen.”
— Ryan Zimmerman was predictably excited to find out he’s going to the All-Star Game for the first time. He was especially honored to find out he was selected because his fellow players voted him in, not because he was the token National taken by manager Charlie Manuel. “That’s the ultimate amount of respect that you can get from the people you play with, for them to vote you in,” he said. “Obviously, the fans mean everything to this game. But to be voted in by the people you play against day in and day out, those are the guys you want to have the utmost respect for you.”
— Cristian Guzman doesn’t exactly sound like he wants to win the “Final Man” online voting contest. “I don’t care if I go or not go,” he said. “I’ve gone twice already. That’s too many going over there. I want to take my three days off and have a very good second half.” For the record, Guzie did say he would attend if he’s voted in, but I don’t think that’s going to be an issue.
That’s all for now. Ben will have you covered all this week from Colorado and Houston, and then I’ll catch up with Zimmerman in St. Louis for the All-Star Game after that.