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Bullpen cracks in Nats’ loss to Orioles

Jul 10, 2015, 11:36 PM EST

USA Today

BALTIMORE — Holding a one-run lead on Baltimore in the eighth inning on Friday night, the ideal situation for Matt Williams’ bullpen was presented. Casey Janssen came out to set up a save opportunity for Drew Storen with the Nats holding a 39-2 record this season when leading after seven innings. The Orioles, on the other hand, were an ugly 0-36 when leading after seven.

Advantage Washington, right?

But this is baseball and, naturally, nothing went as planned. Janssen allowed a softly-hit single to leadoff against a pinch-hitting Chris Parmelee. He then got Adam Jones out on a hard liner to third base.

Though Janssen wasn’t in serious trouble, Williams called on lefty Matt Thornton to face Orioles catcher Matt Wieters. Wieters stepped to the plate 0-for-3 with two strikeouts against Thornton in his career. So, of course, he doubled to right-center field to tie the game at 2-2.

Wieters was aggressive and hit the first pitch from Thornton, something the Nats’ veteran did not foresee.

“[Jose Lobaton] asked me on the mound what I wanted to do there. I said ‘let’s start him down and away and then we’ll go from there, go back in.’ He jumped the first pitch and that was it. I didn’t expect him to do that,” Thornton explained.

Thornton got out of the inning quickly thereafter, but the Nats were no match for All-Star reliever Zach Britton in the top of the ninth. That set up a walk-off opportunity for the Orioles against right-hander Tanner Roark, and they made it count.

Roark came out firing mid-90s fastballs and struck out the first two batters he faced. He was nothing short of dominant and even got the final batter, Jonathan Schoop, to two strikes.

But then Roark left a slider just a little too high in the zone and Schoop sent it over the fence in left field. He reached and barely got a bat on it, but it was just enough on a hot summer night in a small stadium.

“The pitch that went out of the ballpark was not a bad pitch,” Williams said. “He just got out and hooked it. It’s a small ballpark and he just got it over. That’s the way this park plays sometimes.”

“He was doing great. I even think the pitch that he hit out was a good pitch, a good located pitch,” Tyler Moore said. “He just one-handed it. In this stadium the ball travels pretty good. It’s unfortunate.”

Roark also felt the slider was a well-executed pitch, but he wouldn’t point to the conditions or the dimensions at Camden Yards as an excuse.

“It is what it is,” he said. “There’s a lot of parks where the ball flies. You still gotta pitch the same and be confident in yourself.”

The Nats’ bullpen did produce one big positive in Aaron Barrett’s successful return from a right bicep strain. Barrett replaced starter Gio Gonzalez in the seventh inning, allowed no runs and struck out two. It was his first appearance since June 11 and he came away encouraged.

“I’m glad skip had the confidence to put me in that situation, to get back to help the team out in whatever role is available. I felt good coming back,” he said. “I haven’t felt any of the pain or the soreness that I was getting or that I was feeling in the past. It is just about continuing to build the arm strength and continuing to keep working.”

  1. 3on2out - Jul 11, 2015 at 6:42 AM

    0-36 when trailing after seven. “0-36 when leading after seven” would be ugly indeed.

  2. Another_Sam - Jul 11, 2015 at 7:30 AM

    My beef isn’t with the pitching. My beef is with two runs scored.

  3. veejh - Jul 11, 2015 at 7:35 AM

    Seemed like a perfect time for a 2 inning save from Drew. Why MW brought in 2 relievers that the Os had seen hundreds of times was stupid. Blah.

  4. laddieblahblah - Jul 11, 2015 at 8:13 AM

    Some positive takeaways – no additional injuries to any of the Nats.

    Another sterling performance from the Nats’ battery of Lobaton and Gonzales. Too bad Gio did not get the win which he deserved.

    The continuing performance of the Nats bench – the only thing lacking was a knockout hit that could have made everything bad that followed the 7th inning irrelevant.

    Desi’s journey to a new approach at the plate. Yesterday his lone hit came on a pitch breaking in, which he managed to stay inside of, and poke to RF. The majority of his recent hits have gone to RF. He is trying, and sooner or later all his effort may pay off.

    His most instructive recent AB, IMO, came in the game against the Reds which Cueto pitched. Desi took the first 4 pitches in that particular AB to reach a 3-1 hitter’s count, and Cueto made one of his few mistakes that night by serving up a waist-high hanger down the middle – just the kind of pitch you hope to get by being patient and selective. But Desi launched into his 5-run homer swing and completely whiffed on that pitch, striking out a couple of pitches later on the Desi-death pitch, the off-speed breaker down and away.

    As Trea Turner pointed out just the other day, “You don’t try to hit home runs because you just make it easier for them to get you out.” Desi negated all the patient selectivity he exhibited in that AB by reverting to the bugaboo remnant of Davey Johnson’s hitting advice. He would do much better to listen to the wisdom of the 22-her-old rookie, with that particular AB as a reminder of how to get your pitch, and how not to attack it.

    I refuse to talk about the relief work, except to point out that Barrett was dominant in the 7th inning.

    • Hiram Hover - Jul 11, 2015 at 8:37 AM

      I love your commentary, but don’t think charting Desi’s “new approach” from AB to AB is worth your effort.

      Tip o’ the cap, tho, for working in the quote from Turner!

      • laddieblahblah - Jul 11, 2015 at 9:36 AM

        “I love your commentary, but don’t think charting Desi’s “new approach” from AB to AB is worth your effort.”

        Probably not. It’s not going to change anything, for sure. But it’s what this particular Nats fanatic enjoys doing. Really weird, no?

        Thanks for the comment, Hiram.

  5. Hiram Hover - Jul 11, 2015 at 8:17 AM

    The Nats’ bullpen did produce one big positive in Aaron Barrett’s successful return

    A +1 to that.

    Barrett made it more … um, exciting … than we might have liked, but he got the job done.

  6. natsfan1a - Jul 11, 2015 at 8:20 AM

    Also, we no longer have to endure the split MASN booth. (Yeah, I know they stopped it some time ago, but I remain grateful for the change.)

    Watched until the last out but not sure how much of tonight’s game I’ll see in real time, as we’ll be celebrating a friend’s birthday with dinner out and some visiting after.

    On another note, good to see Randy Knorr back in the dugout. Hope he finds some respite in the daily routine of baseball and some comfort in being with his baseball family.

    • natsnatsnatswoo - Jul 11, 2015 at 8:30 AM

      The split MASN booth will live again, at least for tonight. Gary Thorne will call the game on Fox, with FP doing color. Count your blessings, though. At least it’s the thoroughly professional Thorne and not the execrable Jim Hunter representing the O’s.

      • rayvil01 - Jul 11, 2015 at 8:41 AM

        Aaaahhh. Thanks for that info. Thorne was a good hockey announcer. What little I watch of the Baltimore broadcasts the analysts are plenty homer-ish. FP gets accused of it, But, he always distributes positive comments to the other team’s efforts. That pair in Atlanta is incapable of that.

        On the other hand, our radio team is the best, hands down. I had to turn on a Baltimore game on the radio to placate an in-law…OMG that was painful. I could barely tell what was happening.

      • Hiram Hover - Jul 11, 2015 at 8:46 AM

        Thanks, Forewarned is forearmed.

        I have tried the “watch the TV but listen to the radio” thing in the past, but have trouble getting them synched up. Maybe worth trying again, tho.

      • natsnatsnatswoo - Jul 11, 2015 at 9:18 AM

        Oh, I see.Their guys are homers, bad. Our guys are homers, good. Glad you cleared that up.

        Myself, I just go by whether the guy is a good announcer or not. Thorne is very good, better than anyone else on the combined “happy MASN family” roster.

      • rayvil01 - Jul 11, 2015 at 10:46 AM

        “Oh, I see.Their guys are homers, bad. Our guys are homers, good”

        I didn’t say that. FP, homer, still gives credit to the other team. Some homers don’t do that, a la Atlanta. I don’t watch enough of the Baltimore people to know what they do…and really don’t care to.

    • laddieblahblah - Jul 11, 2015 at 9:40 AM

      “On another note, good to see Randy Knorr back in the dugout.”

      Thanks for reminding us of Randy’s return, and so good to see him smiling, and joking around with the cameraman.

  7. naterialguy - Jul 11, 2015 at 8:25 AM

    You gotta get more then 2 runs on 10 hits if you want to go places in this league.
    After all the bullpen troubles we have had I am shocked top see we are 39 – 2 when leading after 7…..?

  8. Doc - Jul 11, 2015 at 10:02 AM

    So much for putting money on a baseball game—Tillman came into the game with an ERA of something like 5.65!

    • stoatva - Jul 11, 2015 at 10:41 AM

      Strasburgesque!

      • stoatva - Jul 11, 2015 at 10:51 AM

        The point being, of course, that Tillman has been pretty much money the last three years although he’s having an off season. It’s not like he’s some palooka with no track record. And against the kind of lineup the Nats have to put on the field this series, well….

  9. rlndtln - Jul 11, 2015 at 12:30 PM

    MW will not try a 4or5 out save let alone a 2 inning save even this Sunday with the ASG tuesday.He will never try anything out of the box and thus the results will be what they will be.

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