Washington Nationals: Bullpen Saves The Day In Extra Innings Win Over Mets
By Ricky Keeler
Last night, the Washington Nationals bullpen shut out the Mets over the final 4.1 innings, which helped secure a win in 11 innings
While the Washington Nationals bullpen still has its fair share of concerns, some of their relievers had good outings last night at Citi Field against the New York Mets. In the team’s 4-3, 11 inning win, the ‘pen quieted the Mets offense for the final 4.1 innings of the contest.
Shawn Kelley did pick up a save via a 1-2-3 11th inning, his second save in as many days. But, the stars of the bullpen were relievers that don’t exactly boost the confidence of the fans when they enter the game.
The trio of Oliver Perez, Joe Blanton, and Enny Romero did not give up a hit for 3.1 innings, struck out two batters (both by Perez) and walked two (both by Blanton). This was on a night where the offense didn’t have a hit from the 6th-10th inning and only had one at-bat with men in scoring position until the 11th.
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In the seventh inning, it looked like the game was getting away from the Washington Nationals. With two outs, Roark allowed a double to pinch-hitter Zack Wheeler (yes, you read that right) and walked Michael Conforto (intentionally) and Juan Lagares on five pitches.
With the bases loaded, Dusty Baker went to Perez to go after Jay Bruce after the left-hander got Freddie Freeman out Thursday night. Perez got Bruce to fly out to right to end the inning and the Mets right fielder is now 0-for-10 against Perez in his career.
After that out, Perez got to stay in to pitch the eighth and got strikeouts of Neil Walker and Curtis Granderson. Yes, Perez isn’t the most talented reliever in this bullpen and wasn’t used a lot until week. But, he has picked up some big outs on this road trip.
As for Blanton, there is still some concern with his command since he threw only nine strikes out of 20 pitches. He walked two of the first three batters he faced. But, he found his way out of it with a Conforto groundout and a Lagares flyout. That being said, he only threw three of his nine sliders for strikes (courtesy of Brooks Baseball).
Finally, Romero got lucky that the weather wasn’t warm when Bruce just missed a home run to start the 10th. However, he did throw ten strikes in the 14 pitches he threw and won an 11-pitch battle with Granderson, who gave the Nats pitchers a tough time most of the night. There were some loud outs, but this was just the second time he went at least one inning and didn’t give up a run. Plus, he did get the win.
While it’s great to point out the bullpen’s success, it’s also worth noting they were facing a banged up Mets offense that was using Wheeler to pinch-hit and Asdrubal Cabrera was pinch run for after a walk in the ninth. Plus, the lineup doesn’t have Yoenis Cespedes right now.
If you want more on Bryce Harper and Jose Lobaton’s home runs against Matt Harvey or on the outing by Tanner Roark, check out my thoughts in last night’s DoDcast postgame show:
One of the things I feel the bullpen has lacked lately is confidence. They have seen a lot of things go wrong in the early stages of the season and that has to get on everyone’s minds.
Now that the bullpen is having success and Kelley has done well in the closer role this week, maybe the ‘pen is starting to show signs that they can be solid. It isn’t a great bullpen, but they aren’t as bad as they were a week ago. There has to be a middle ground.
Next: ESPN's Olney Talks Bryce Harper
The bullpen has a long way to go, but last night gave a lot of encouraging signs for relievers like Perez, Blanton, and Romero.