No big turnout for Stephen Strasburg’s first home start

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Stephen Strasburg is making his first D.C. start for the 7-3 Washington Nationals on Monday, but one would hardly know that by the crowd. CSN Washington’s Mark Zuckerman took the accompanying pic two minutes before Strasburg’s first pitch and guessed their might be 10,000 people in the stands.

Zuckerman penned an article earlier in the noting how the Strasburg hype had died around Washington:

Since he first debuted in the big leagues amid hoopla and packed houses, Strasburg has seen the hysteria surrounding his starts considerably wane. “Strasmas,” that national holiday that was observed every five days back when he was a flamethrowing rookie (or even a recovering Tommy John patient), is no more. Strasburg, to quote his own words, is “just another donkey” on the Nationals pitching staff.

Part of the issue tonight undoubtedly is that the Capitals are hosting a playoff game just a few miles down the road. Still, it looks to be a disappointing turnout for a team off to an excellent start.

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.