Washington Nationals Rapid Reaction: Ryan Zimmerman’s Home Run The Difference In 1-0 Win

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Jul 30, 2015; Miami, FL, USA; Washington Nationals relief pitcher Jonathan Papelbon (58) throws against the Miami Marlins during the ninth inning at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Storen-Papelbon Combo Passes First Test

It was the moment that Nats fans were waiting for as Drew Storen and Jonathan Papelbon both appeared in a game for the first time. Storen has pitched back-to-back days as the eighth inning guy and has looked strong in both appearances. Today, in a 1-0 game, Storen threw nine of his ten pitches for strikes and was able to get two swinging strikeouts of J.T. Realmuto and Cole Gillespie.

Over the last two games, Storen has thrown 19 pitches with 15 of them going for strikes, gave up no hits, and struck out four. While it is only two games, you can tell Storen is pitching with an edge as he tries to help the Nats achieve their goals in a different role as well as maybe auditioning for a closer role with another team next year.

As far as Papelbon goes, the former Phillies’ closer saved his 18th game of the season yesterday. He only needed nine pitches to retire the Marlins in order, but it wasn’t without a crazy play. Ichiro Suzuki led off the inning by hitting a groundball back to Papelbon. Papelbon would go for the tag, miss Ichiro, but would flip it to Ryan Zimmerman in time to get the first out. He would strike out Michael Morse two batters later to end the game.

All outings won’t go as smooth as today for this new late inning duo, but it is a nice sign to see a bullpen that can shut the door when the starter can go seven innings. Even though the trade for Papelbon was not received well by some, he is a reliever with postseason experience that is here to help win the team a championship.

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