Jason Marquis hurls shutout for Nationals

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Yes, that Jason Marquis.

After going 2-9 with a 6.60 ERA in the first year of his two-year, $15 million contract with the Nationals, Marquis has opened 2011 with a bang, turning in five straight quality starts on his way to a 3-0 record.  His ERA stands at 2.71.

Tonight’s win was the most impressive of the bench, as he outdueled Tim Lincecum and pitched his fourth career shutout against the defending world champion Giants.  He struck out seven and walked none in the crisp 96-pitch outing.

Earlier this month, he fanned nine in six innings against the Mets, his high strikeout total since way back in 2004.

The Nationals still might not be going anywhere this year, but if this keeps up, Marquis is going to be an awfully nice piece of trade bait at the deadline.  No, he’s not someone any team will want starting Game 1 of a postseason series, but since it looks like last year’s elbow problems are completely in the past, he’s a nice innings eater.

Hunter Pence announces retirement after 14 years

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
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SAN FRANCISCO — Four-time All-Star outfielder Hunter Pence announced his retirement Saturday following 14 major league seasons.

The 37-year-old Pence wrote on his Twitter page: “Nothing can really prepare you for this part of your career when you have to say: I am retiring from baseball. Forever thankful and Gr8ful.”

Most recently he was a fan favorite for the San Francisco Giants, helping the club to a pair of World Series championships after being acquired from the Phillies at the 2012 trade deadline.

A career .279 hitter, Pence had 244 home runs and 942 RBIs playing for Houston, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Texas.

The Giants released him last month from a second stint with the club after Pence batted just .096 with two homers and six RBIs in 17 games.

“I was pretty confident in this when we parted ways earlier that he would be spending some time contemplating a decision like this,” Giants manager Gabe Kapler said. “I’m sure he spent a lot of time talking to his family and his friends and his teammates to come up with what was the best decision for Hunter. He had a tremendous career, did a ton for the community in San Francisco and obviously for the San Francisco Giants. I’m just happy for him and would send congratulations on a fantastic career.”

Pence always believed he would be back with the Giants – it just took a season-long detour with the Rangers last year for his reunion to come together. Pence reinvented his swing during 2018 with San Francisco, played winter ball in the Dominican Republic to further perfect it, then batted .297 with 18 homers, 17 doubles and 59 RBIs over 83 games for Texas in 2019.

He was part of the Giants’ 2012 and ’14 World Series champion teams.

Pence signed a $3 million, one-year contract in February to return to San Francisco.

His retirement was hardly a surprise. Pence had accepted his far lesser role that meant he worked more as a veteran leadership presence helping the young Giants prepare and know how to make it in the big leagues.

“I love sharing but I also love learning,” Pence said during spring training. “A lot of times the young guys have a lot to teach us because they have new perspectives and the new coaches that they’ve learned from are so much different than what I grew up with. There’s so much more information out there. To me it’s about growing together and having that growth mindset and that culture of playing with passion and playing smart and getting a little better every day. Those are the things I look forward to doing.”