“He’s a heck of an athlete,” Manager Davey Johnson said before pausing, “for a left-hander.”
Of his “wheels,” Gio said, “Goodyear has not sponsored me. I’ve got to take the ankle weights off. I robbed Zim of an RBI.”
Much of the talk on this day was of Michael Morse’s lat injury that may keep him sidelined until midseason. “It’s a blow,” Rizzo said.
“Teams are always losing players,” said Jayson Werth, who had one of his two hits in the 10th-inning rally. “You have to fill in and pick it up.”
Eventually, maybe later this season, maybe next year, the Nats will score enough runs to be at least an average offense, if not better. Maybe they’ll get healthy, or make a trade or sign a free agent next winter.
“We’ve got a pretty good guy at AAA that will probably help us at some point,” said Rizzo, hinting that Bryce Harper can hit his way to town as soon as he’d like.
But baseball remains a game in which those with pitching, especially great obscene stacks of it, are going to win eventually and probably win big. For months, the Nats have talked about their starting rotation, imagined what it might be. Then, last week, they added lefty Ross Detwiler, who immediately went five shutout innings on top of his nine sterling starts (3.20 ERA) late last season. How deep are these guys?
If Gonzalez now goes on a roll, with Strasburg (0.69 ERA) and Zimmermann (1.29), what’s ahead? Dominant rotations are a unique baseball beast, gobbling scoreless innings and disguising other weaknesses. Right now, the Nats are striking out more men per inning than any team in baseball, have allowed the least runs (2.14 a game) and are doing it without injured closer Drew Storen. Winner Craig Stammen caught the infectious confidence and struck out the side in the 10th on just 10 pitches.
Right now, the Nats have sobering injuries to overcome for the next three months. But what Gonzalez showed on this bright day was a glimpse of a far larger, longer and more important Nationals reality. In seven games, the Nats’ starters have allowed either one or zero earned runs five times.
And all of those starting pitchers are under team control from four to seven years. They haven’t been quietly effective; they’ve been low-hit, high-strikeout, in-your-face dominant.
Get used to it. Maybe for years and years and years.
For previous columns by Thomas Boswell, see washingtonpost.com/