The running of the bullpen

If you haven't stayed up late with us the last few nights from the West Coast, you've missed some interesting and entertaining baseball.

There wasn't much memorable from the 10-3 loss at L.A. Wednesday night, but Thursday night's 11-9, come-from-behind win had a little of everything.

In fact, once we got the Manny Ramirez fiasco out of the way, it was quite a game.

The last time a Washington-based Major League baseball team made such a comeback after giving up six runs in the first inning, was July 30, 1964 when the Senators spotted the Indians 6 and won 8-7.

Regarding Manny Ramirez, I stated on the air Thursday night and still feel this way, that it was a good day for Major League baseball.

They served notice that if you break the rules, no matter who you are, you're gone. Baseball is serious about cleaning up the game, and Thursday was another painful step, especially for the Dodgers, in that process.

The Nationals are just as serious about cleaning up their bullpen and, if you haven't noticed, the 'pen is getting older quickly. In the last few weeks, gone are Steven Shell, Wil Ledezma, Jason Bergmann, Mike Hinckley and Saul Rivera, the elder statesman with just over three years in the major leagues.

Back to spring training, enter 32-year-old Joe Beimel, 26-year-old Logan Kensing (who has 5+ years in the majors), soon-to-be 36-year-old Julian Tavarez, 39-year-old Ron Villone and 32-year-old Kip Wells, who earned his first career save Friday night in the Nats' well-played 5-4 win at Arizona.

The Nats recently signed veteran Mike McDougal, a former closer in Kansas City, and he could get a look sooner than later.

With Shairon Martis now 4-0, Scott Olsen and John Lannan pitching better, and Jordan Zimmermann learning more every start to go with his breathtaking talent, the starting rotation is looking much-improved.

Thus, the bullpen is critical since the Nats will be in closer games, and those last nine outs will become more and more important as the season wears on ... and hopefully easier to get!

On the horizon is more great young pitching with the First-Year Player Draft approaching and, if you haven't heard, Stephen Strasburg threw a 17-strikeout no-hitter for San Diego State versus Air Force Friday night.

This club has offense, plenty of it, with a batting average tied for 3rd in the National League going into the Arizona series, and top seven ranking in runs and home runs. With better pitching and defense, the Nationals are going to be tough to play.

By the way, after Friday night's win in Phoenix, the Nats are a .500 ballclub, 8-8, after their 1-10 start.