With those guys holding opponents to a .188 batting average, the Nationals already have won three 3-2 games, a 2-1 game and the 1-0 gem Gonzalez started Tuesday. Can the Nats keep winning with such little hitting?
It's way too soon to get caught up in the question of whether general manager Mike Rizzo really will order Strasburg shut down after 175 innings but don't tell manager Davey Johnson that. He sees the Nationals as a serious threat to the Phillies and Braves.
"Awful good stuff. Awful good arms," Johnson said. "And we knew that before we even started to play games, just from watching them throw in the 10-pack (bullpen at spring training). I knew my guys had great stuff. It's an outstanding rotation."
Strutting: Forget stopping the Rangers. The question is whether you can even hope to contain them. Ron Washington's fellows entered the weekend leading the majors in scoring, home runs and on-base percentage, third in starters' ERA and second in fewest unearned runs allowed.
Leadoff man Ian Kinsler (.417 on-base percentage, 16 runs in 13 games) has been a catalyst and Josh Hamilton is knocking the ball around like a guy intent on signing a long-term contract. He had five homers, 12 RBIs and 40 total bases in his first 50 at-bats, and he insisted he wasn't really hot.
"I'm just finding holes," Hamilton said after a monstrous home run in an 18-3 thrashing of the Red Sox. "I don't feel great. The home run felt good, the others I just kind of rolled over and found holes. I'm getting there. My timing is still early. I'm getting away with some things. I want to continue to improve.''
The Rangers' starters left trailing only once in the first 13 games, with reliever Joe Nathan taking both losses during the 11-2 start. Derek Holland, Matt Harrison and Colby "The Quiet Man'' Lewis were 8-for-8 in quality starts through Friday.
"We're very happy," pitching coach Mike Maddux said. "But this is what we expect. We've set a very high bar. These guys are a year older, a year wiser and a year more experienced. A lot of the process comes with experience. We're not dealing with kids anymore. We're dealing with young men."
Would have been fun: Brewers manager Ron Roenicke doesn't mind rolling the dice a little bit. He pinch hit for shortstop Cesar Izturis in the ninth inning Tuesday night knowing regular shortstop Alex Gonzalez was away for the birth of his son. He confessed afterward that would have forced him to play Aramis Ramirez at shortstop.
Thanks to George Kottaras driving in two runs, not one, this was all theoretical. But you have to imagine the man's imagination to see Ramirez as someone you can use in the middle of the infield.
That's consistent with Roenicke's love of the squeeze bunt, overshifted infield and occasional five-man infield alignments. He lives in the moment, not thinking about how a move could backfire down the line.
"When we're down, I think you have to do what you can to tie it or go ahead," said Roenicke, sounding awfully smart.
The last word: "He might be quiet, but he's a loud player.'' — Reggie Jackson on the Yankees' Curtis Granderson, who went 5-for-5 with three home runs on Thursday.