Stephen Strasburg dominates the Mets, tops 100 pitches for the first time

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This afternoon’s Stephen Strasburg-Johan Santana matchup was every bit as fun to watch as it looked on paper.

Santana was very solid, albeit in another short outing, throwing five innings of one-run ball with eight strikeouts despite averaging just 88.1 miles per hour with his fastball.

Strasburg was very shaky early on, but quickly got on track and overpowered the Mets with nine strikeouts in six shutout, two-hit innings. And for the first time as a big leaguer he was allowed to go past 100 pitches, throwing 108, as the Nationals went on to win 4-0.

Strasburg’s career was temporarily derailed by Tommy John elbow surgery, but he’s picked up right where he left off and has now thrown 37 innings with a 1.21 ERA since returning late last season. His average fastball today was 94.8 miles per hour and his changeup had ridiculous movement.

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Another interestingly named player is promoted by the Pirates

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When you promote a player from the minors, the first and foremost consideration is whether or not he can help your ball club. But, assuming that’s taken care of, teams should really, really make it a priority to call up dudes with cool sounding names because it makes life more interesting for the rest of us.

The Pirates are doing that. The other night Dovydas Neverauskas made his big league debut. In addition to being the first Lithuanian born-and-raised player in major league history, it’s a solid, solid name. Now the Pirates are making another promotion: Gift Ngoepe.

Yep, Gift Ngoepe. He’s an infielder from South Africa, making the leap to the bigs due to David Freese‘s hamstring injury. Ngoepe, 27, was batting just .241/.308/.379 through 66 plate appearances this season with Triple-A Indianapolis, his ninth in the minors, so he’s not exactly a prospect. But man, that’s a killer name.

It’s also worth mentioning that Gift and Neverauskas were arrested together in a bar fight last August in Toledo, so there is already a good basis for some bonding here.

Good luck, Gift. Gift Ngoepe. Mr. Ngoepe. G-Ngo. Man, I could do this all day.

Manny Machado teaches us to never give up

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The Rays beat the Orioles last night, but the play of the game belonged to an Oriole defender.

Evan Longoria was batting and he chopped a ball foul down the third base line. At least it started out foul. As we all know, however, it doesn’t matter where the ball starts, it matters where it is when it crosses the bag.

Manny Machado knows this and didn’t give up on the ball despite it starting several feet in foul territory. He watched it come back, stayed with it and threw out Longoria who, unlike Machado, did give up on it, assuming he’d merely get a strike and another hack. Watch:

Longoria would get Machado back, however, fielding a ball Machado smoked to third base in the ninth inning, recording the second to last out of the game.