It’s time for the Mets to shut down Johan Santana

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Johan Santana gave up six runs in five innings to the Nationals on Friday, sending him to his fifth straight loss in a 6-4 game. He’s allowed 33 runs in 19 innings that span, taking his season ERA from 2.76 to 4.83.

The Mets didn’t want to admit it and trade veterans away before the deadline, but they’re playing for 2013 at this point. And given that they’re set to pay Santana a whopping $25.5 million next year, it’d make sense to give him the best possible chance to enter the season healthy. That would mean shutting him down now.

There’s no way to know whether it was truly cause and effect, but the fact is that Santana hasn’t been the same pitcher since throwing a career-high 134 pitches in his no-hitter against the Cardinals on June 1. Even the break he got last month when he served a DL stint due to a sprained ankle didn’t do him any good; he’s been lit up in both outings since.

Again, there’s really no good that can come from having Santana continue to take the mound. It’s time to save those bullets for 2013, when they might actually matter.

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.