SAN FRANCISCO -- It's only Aug. 8 and Nationals general manager Jim Bowden is already saying that manager Manny Acta should be the leading candidate for National League Manager of the Year.
Washington was expected to be historically bad this season because it let Alfonso Soriano walk away via free agency and was going to have a tough time looking for starting pitching. But the Nationals have played better than expected. Since May 11, the Nationals are 43-36, the second-best record in the National League East and tied with the Marlins for fourth place in the division.
But victories are not the only thing that are impressing Bowden when it comes to Acta. The GM likes the way Acta has handled the pitching staff despite the fact there are three rookies and two Minor League free agents in the rotation, and Acta also isn't afraid to yank players out of the game for lack of hustle.
"Manny has done a tremendous job with this team because of the attitude and discipline that he has brought here," Bowden said. "He set the tone early in the year by taking [Ryan] Church out of a game for not running a ball out. He has taken care of the young arms.
"I respect [Cubs manager] Lou Piniella and [Brewers skipper] Ned Yost a lot and I think they deserve to have their votes, but what Manny has done with this team, which has a low payroll, he deserves to win this award.
First baseman Dmitri Young left Wednesday's game because of left hamstring tightness. Young started feeling sore after coming out of the batter's box in the first inning off Giants right-hander Matt Cain. Young grounded to shortstop Omar Vizquel to end the inning. Robert Fick replaced Young in the bottom of the second inning.
Acta said that Young will get the day off Thursday and hopes that he could play against the Diamondbacks the next day.
Jason Bergmann (left hamstring tightness) pitched three shutout innings and gave up two hits against the Gulf Coast Dodgers.
After playing catch for the second consecutive day, right-hander Jason Simontacchi (right elbow) will head to Florida on Thursday to continue his rehab. He hopes to have a bullpen session by Aug. 20.
Stat of the day:
Entering Wednesday's action, Young is hitting .402 at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium and .271 on the road this season.
Did you know:
Right-hander Chris Schroder picked up his first Major League win vs. the Giants on Wednesday.
The Nationals play the final game of a four-game series against the Giants at AT&T Park on Thursday afternoon. Washington right-hander Joel Harahan will face San Francisco left-hander Patrick Misch.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.