Dan Haren: “If we got in, we’d be the team to beat”

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Nationals starter Dan Haren with your quote of the day, via Adam Kilgore:

Haren shut out the Diamondbacks tonight over seven innings, allowing just four hits and a walk while striking out five. He lowered his ERA to 4.67. As that ERA might indicate, Haren has been part of the Nationals’ problem this year. Before he went on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation following his start on June 22, he had a 6.15 ERA.

The Nationals, however, surged at the end of August well into September, winning 23 of 30 games between August 20 and September 20. The hot streak revived their once-dead playoff hopes, but they ran out of time, having already lost too much ground to the Braves. Perhaps, had the Nationals — now 87-75 — pulled things together sooner, Haren might have been right, but it is hard to see the Nationals as presently-constructed being a post-season favorite on the National League side.

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.