Nats' right-hander Tyler Clippard replaced lefty Ross Detwiler in the top of the seventh inning tonight in Nationals Park with the tying run at the plate in a 3-0 game which the Nationals had led since Jayson Werth's three-run blast off New York knuckler R.A. Dickey in the bottom of the first. Clippard fooled Scott Hairston so badly with a 2-1 change that the Mets' pinch hitter connected as he tried to hold up and just sent a one-hopper back to the mound for the final out of the inning.
After throwing just four pitches in the seventh, Clippard came back out for the eighth and Washington's All-Star reliever retired the Mets in order on twelve pitches to make the Nats' three-run lead hold up through eight. Clippard lowered his ERA to 1.66 in 59.2 IP on the year with tonight's effort, and earned his league-leading 26th hold of 2011 a half-inning before Drew Storen saved the 26th game of his sophomore season in D.C. Storen's outing didn't go as smoothly, but after loading the bases with two down he was able to get former Nat Willie Harris looking to end the frame, earn the save and close out the Nationals' 50th win of 2011, ending a six-game losing streak which saw Washington fall seven games under .500 before tonight...
Both pitcher's names have been mentioned in several potential trade scenarios in the last few weeks, however, with numerous sources and news outlets tying them most often to the Tampa Bay Rays and Minnesota Twins, two teams that have the kind of center fielders the Nats are looking for. If it's up to Nats' Skipper Davey Johnson, however, neither pitcher would be going anywhere.
Asked in a post game press conference tonight if he'd like to keep Storen once tomorrow's 4:00 pm EDT deadline passes, Johnson said, "I want him to stay here. I like what he's done and I like his attitude, and he wants to stay here. So, we'll see what happens, but it's part of baseball. I did talk to him. I said, 'As far as I'm concerned, you ain't going nowhere, so don't even think about it.' He said, 'Well, I want to be here,' so, I'm glad he was here tonight, although I wish it had been easier."
The talk then turned to Tyler Clippard. "Tyler ain't going nowhere," Davey Johnson said, "or I'm going with him. He ain't going anywhere. I don't know where we'd be without Tyler." Asked if he could state the same about Storen, with the same certainty, the manager said, "I don't know where we'd be without Drew." As for the fact that he's not going anywhere either, Johnson said, "You know, one thing I've learned in this game, you can't take anything for granted. And I don't."
"I didn’t think Hairston was going out, but we had a guy that could do similar things that he can in [Brian] Bixler, and we're in last place, so...Two games out [of first] we wouldn't be having this conversation."