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Dusty Baker on the Washington Nationals’ bullpen; Shawn Kelley warming for save + Matt Albers’ D.C. debut...

Dusty Baker had Shawn Kelley warming for what was looking like a save opportunity. Washington’s skipper talked after the game about Matt Albers’ contribution.

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Before the Washington Nationals added seven insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth inning last night, they held a two-run lead over the St. Louis Cardinals.

With the Nats up 7-5 in the series opener in the nation’s capital, Dusty Baker had right-hander Shawn Kelley warming for a save opportunity that never materialized.

Seven runs later, with the score 14-5, Kelley still came on to finish off the Cards, but before you start wondering if there is a closer controversy in the Nationals’ bullpen, Baker explained why it was Kelley and not Blake Treinen warming for the ninth.

“Treinen’s worked a lot,” Baker said, “and so we had Kelley was going to save the game tonight because Treinen has been a little bit overworked, so he’s still acclimating and adjusting to the closer’s role. And like I said, usually the closers they’ll go like a week with no chance and then the next week they’ll have four or five chances and so he’s still acclimating to that. He’ll be alright tomorrow.”

Through the Nationals’ first seven games, Treinen has made four appearances, giving up five hits, a walk and three earned runs in 3 13 innings pitched, converting three of four save opportunities.


While there were plenty of hits and runs on the scoreboard last night, Matt Albers was able to complete two scoreless innings on the mound in his regular season debut with the Nationals.

Albers, who was called up this past weekend to provide some bullpen depth, came on in the sixth and worked around a two-out error for a scoreless frame, then came back out in the seventh and (with help from a 9-3 DP started by Bryce Harper in right) put up another scoreless frame.

Albers picked up where he left off this Spring, when he tossed 11 23 scoreless out of the bullpen in Grapefruit League action.

Dusty Baker liked what he saw from the veteran reliever last night.

“He did a great job for us. And he was throwing strikes. Quality strikes. I think he had like a 4/1 or 5/1 ratio of balls to strikes, strikes to balls, and he continued what he did in Spring Training, and usually that doesn’t happen sometimes. It felt good to beat the Cardinals, first time we’ve beat them in about seven tries, including Spring Training, I don’t think we beat them at all in Spring Training.”

The Nationals were 0-6-1 against the Cardinals this Spring, but they’re 1-0 in games that count after last night’s win and 6-2 against St. Louis in their last eight games, going back to last season.