On June 23, 2000, pitching for the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field, Jason Marquis, 21, made the fourth appearance of his career. He entered a game against the Brewers leading by a run in the seventh. He pitched one scoreless inning, and then gave up the tying run in the eighth. The Braves took the lead back in the eighth and closed it out in the ninth. John Rocker recorded the save, David Weathers took the loss and Marquis got the win.
Precisely 10 years, 10 months and seven days later, on the same mound, Marquis allowed three runs in 7 1/3 innings on seven hits and two walks with three strikeouts for the Washington Nationals, a team that did not exist when he became a major leaguer. It was good enough for Marquis to earn – and, unlike the first, he really did earn this one – the 100th win of his career.
“Who’d ever thought when I first broke in I would get this?” Marquis said last night, the game ball resting in the locker behind him. “Just a lot of hard work, good fortune, good health allowed me to do that.”
Marquis became one of 30 current pitchers to record 100 wins. He’s tied with Brett Tomko, 67 behind Livan Hernandez and 93 behind Tim Wakefield, the active wins leader. Of those 29 others, Marquis is younger than 20.
“It’s huge,” Manager Jim Riggleman said. “Jason, it seems like he’s been around a long time, but he’s still a young man. One-hundred is tough. It’s hard to get 100. It’s a credit to his durability. He’s going to get a bunch more.”
It’s early, but it’s worth wondering how many more will come with the Nationals. Marquis has been the pitcher the Nationals assumed they were signing last year, a reliable veteran at the back of a rotation who sucks up innings and induces groundballs. He’s 4-1 with a 3.66 ERA, success built largely on a 3.2 strikeout-to-walk rate.
Marquis is the second year of his the two-year, $15 million contract he signed last winter. Again, it’s wildly premature for trade deadline speculation – hey, the Nationals are one game shy of .500 and four games out of the wild card, so they’re not planning on throwing in any towels. That being the case, it’s pretty easy to see how Marquis could become a trade candidate. In a market seemingly bereft of starting pitching options, Marquis could be one of the most attractive pieces available.
But, anyway, that’s a topic for another day. While Marquis tries to treat every game the same, he was aware when he took the mound last night he was one win away from triple digits. “I had an idea,” Marquis said. “Anybody who tells you they don’t realize that, I think they’d be lying to you.
“I’m going to definitely enjoy it. It was nice to be congratulated by my teammates. That’s what you really work for, to have the respect of your teammates, to have them want you on the mound and have them understand the stuff you go through to win ballgames. I appreciate my teammates for that.”
FROM THE POST
After their best offensive day in three weeks, the Nationals escaped with a 7-6 victory over the Braves that included Jayson Werth’s first homer with a man on base this season.
NATS MINOR LEAGUES
Syracuse 6, Norfolk 3:Chris Marrero went 2 for 4 with a walk and a double. Jesus Flores went 1 for 4 with a walk. Corey Brown went 2 for 5 with a double. Tom Milone allowed three runs in 7 2/3 innings on five hits and no walks, striking out seven. Cole Kimball allowed a walk and struck out two for the save.
Harrisburg 9, Altoona 2: Bill Rhinehart went 2 for 4 with two homers. Chris Rahl went 3 for 5 with two triples. Derek Norris went 2 for 3 with a double and a walk. Shairon Martis allowed two runs in six innings.
Winston-Salem 5, Potomac 3: J.P. Ramirez went 1 for 4 with a home run. Josh Smoker retired the only two batters he faced. In his first full season as a reliever, Smoker has allowed one run in 12 1/3 innings.
Hagerstown 7, Delmarva 3: Bryce Harper went 2 for 5 with an RBI, extending his hitting streak to 14 games. Blake Kelso went 2 for 4 with a double and a walk. At 21-11, Hagerstown has the best record in the Sally League.