Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Garrett Mock has allowed eight hits in five innings but hasn't walked a batter.
But 0-8 is 0-8. No other team in the Grapefruit or Cactus leagues has failed to win a game yet. Shoot, Manny Acta's Indians are 4-0 at this moment.
So we can't totally ignore what's going on here. Less than four weeks from Opening Day against Roy Halladay and the Phillies, this team is not playing good baseball. Some are brushing it off as early-March rust. Others are not satisfied with the way things are going.
"The results matter," said closer Matt Capps, who has been scored upon in each of his three outings so far. "We're all competitive. I want to go out and strike the side out every time I go out there. And if I don't, it's not as successful as I want it to be."
With that in mind, let's look at some of the participants from today's 6-4 loss to the Cardinals, evaluating both how they looked as well as what the end result was for each...
GARRETT MOCK: The right-hander wasn't as sharp in his second start as he was in his first. Over three innings, he allowed two runs (both coming on an Allen Craig homer in the second) and five hits. On the bright side, he struck out three and didn't walk a batter. His pitch count of 48 was a tad high, but not outrageous. All this jives with Mock's stated goal of attacking hitters and not nibbling around the strike zone. In five spring innings overall, he still hasn't issued a walk. "I've said it since day one: I'm not going to impress anybody by walking people," Mock said. "I'm not going to help the team out by walking people. I'm not going to help myself out by walking people. This is the time to challenge guys and see where my stuff's at."
J.D. MARTIN: Pitching in relief of Mock, Martin actually got three innings of work. Like his predecessor, Martin allowed two runs but didn't issue a walk. He was much sharper last time out (throwing two scoreless innings in a split-squad game against the Marlins) but he's essentially pitched this spring the same way he did last season. Nothing he does blows you away, but he seems to get the job done a decent amount of the time. Needing to increase his innings count to four next time out, Martin may have to settle for pitching in a minor-league game, though Mock could end up doing that instead. "It's always better to start a game. You've got a routine and everything," Martin said. "But right now, it's tough to get everybody in."
MATT CAPPS: The club's new closer hasn't been particularly sharp in his first three appearances, allowing runs in each of them. But he wasn't totally to blame for his two earned runs today. Center fielder Justin Maxwell didn't get a good break on Jon Jay's fly ball to deep left-center, and the wind carried it beyond his reach. If Maxwell makes the play, Allen Craig's subsequent double doesn't make any difference and Capps emerges unscathed. But he's not overly concerned at this point, especially when he's only pitching one inning every two or three days. "You want to pitch every day, but you can't do that," Capps said. "There's a lot of guys here that have got to get their work in. That's the program. It's still early. As it goes on, get into every-other-day, throw back-to-back days, throw two innings, throw three innings at some point and go from there. Right now is wearing things down and getting the feel back, and then the last two weeks or so I'll try to dial it in."
In today's Strasburg-related news...
Rizzo said the rookie right-hander's impressive performance Tuesday against the Tigers didn't change his feelings about the club's plan for him moving forward. In other words, he's still probably not making the Opening Day rotation.
"I've got a plan in place for him," Rizzo said. "And regardless of what he did yesterday and what he does in the future here in spring training, it's not going to change my plans. It was really good to see how happy he was to be on the mound pitching. I think that's where he's most at home and most comfortable, to be pitching on the mound. The refreshing thing to me to watch yesterday was the mature focus and preparation that he gave to that start. I didn't expect anything less, but it was fun to see it put into fruition."
Asked what that plan is, Rizzo responded with a smile: "I'm not going to tell you what the plan is."
Hey, you still gotta try.