With the Philadelphia Phillies up 2-1 after the Washington Nationals wasted a leadoff "double" by Ian Desmond in the top of the seventh inning last night, Nats' skipper Matt Williams turned to left-hander Jerry Blevins in the home-half of the frame.
Phillies' left fielder Domonic Brown, who misplayed Desmond's fly to left in the Nationals' half of the seventh into a double, lined to left field off Blevins to start the bottom of the inning, but was tagged out by Danny Espinosa after beating Bryce Harper's throw in and momentarily coming off the bag as he popped up from his slide.
A review reversed the original safe call and spared Blevins a leadoff man on second, but a six-pitch battle with catcher Carlos Ruiz in the next at bat that went to a full count ended with a solo home run to left field by the right-handed hitting catcher that gave the Phillies a 3-1 lead.
Blevins worked around a two-out HBP on Darin Ruf to escape the inning without further damage, but the Ruiz home run ended up being the winning run when Nats' catcher Wilson Ramos homered to right-center off closer Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth to make it a 3-2 game in Citizens Bank Park.
The outing was the sixth of fourteen second-half appearances in which Blevins has given up a run.
Since the All-Star Break, the 30-year-old lefty reliever has a 6.00 ERA in 15 IP over which opposing hitters have put up a .276/.306/.414 line against him.
With the home run by Ruiz and HBP on Ruf, right-handed hitters now have a .315/.396/.457 line against the Nats' southpaw. Left-handed hitters have a .153/.207/.224 line vs Blevins.
Nats' skipper Matt Williams was asked after the game about going to Blevins with the Nationals down in the seventh.
"We've gone to the well quite a bit with our back-end guys," Williams explained. "What we can't do is pitch them every day. So, and Matt Thornton has been up and hot and in games a lot lately as well, so we went to [Blevins]."
"Brown hit the ball of the end of the bat," Williams said of the leadoff hit on which Brown was tagged out.
"We challenged and got that out. And then [Blevins] went full to [Carlos Ruiz] and he hit a homer. Then he got through the inning, but the key to that inning is him getting behind to Ruiz and [Ruiz] seeing a lot of pitches.
"So, other than that one pitch, he pitched perfectly fine in the inning. But yeah, those back-end guys can't pitch every day. So we're mindful of that and we're mindful of their load, and everybody is a big league pitcher and everybody can get outs, it didn't work for him tonight."
Williams said he wasn't concerned about Blevins, who has now allowed a run in three of his last five appearances.
"I don't worry," Williams said. "I don't worry about any of our guys. We've got a situation in that inning where he's going to go left-right-left. Again, we got the first out and the righty got him. Then he struck [Cody] Asche out and hit Ruf, but then he got [Ben Revere]. So he got the lefties out that he was supposed to get out, unfortunately there was a homer mixed in, but I'm not worried about any of our guys, they've pitched well."