Christian Yelich's two-out single in the ninth inning of last night's game set up a matchup the Washington Nationals would probably have preferred to avoid.
With the score 3-1 in the Nats' favor, Yelich's single brought the potential tying run to the plate in the form of Miami Marlins' slugger Giancarlo Stanton, who stepped in 4 for 12 with four Ks in 12 career plate appearances against Nats' closer Jonathan Papelbon.
Rather than work around or approach Stanton cautiously, however, Papelbon went right after him, starting the at bat by throwing him a challenge fastball up and in that the Marlins' home run threat fouled off, 0-1.
Papelbon followed with another heater inside that Stanton took, 1-1, another fastball knee-high inside at 91 that Stanton sliced into foul territory off first, 1-2, and then yet another fastball low on the outside edge that froze Stanton and was called strike three for the final out of the game.
In his second try at save No. 6 of 2016, after blowing his first save opportunity of the season last time out on the mound in Philadelphia, Papelbon got the job done.
"I was hoping that it didn't get to that, which it always does," Dusty Baker told reporters after the win, referring to the matchup with Stanton.
"Similar to days when you want Albert Pujols to be on deck when the games ends, cause you're counting, at the end of the game it's like, 'We don't want this guy to to get up there,' because he could tie that game up with one swing, big time, but I tell you, Pap, he was dealing, he took his shot, got ahead of him and he fouled it off and made some very quality pitches on him."
Papelbon talked to MASN's Dan Kolko after the game about the decision to go after Stanton.
"I've got to stay with what I've been doing best and that's been throwing my heater," he explained.
"Last game, I got a little too tricky for myself and was trying to throw pitches that weren't my best pitches in my best counts, so that's what I was trying to do tonight."
Rather than try to fool Stanton, Papelbon went after them, something he said he's learned to do over the course of a long career closing out games.
"Just being out there so many times in those situation and knowing that, hey, when it all boils down to it and the game is on the line you've got to go with your best stuff."
Washington's win was their second straight in Miami, giving them an opportunity to take the series in this afternoon's finale with the Marlins.
Here's the Nationals' lineup for today's game:
And while you wait for the first pitch of the game this afternoon, check out last night's edition of Nats Nightly, where we talk about the Nationals' win and talk Nats' prospect Erick Fedde with MASN's Byron Kerr: