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What’s wrong with the Washington Nationals’ relievers? Long balls hurting Nats’ bullpen arms...

Joe Blanton took the mound in the top of the eighth inning, after the Nationals rallied to tie it up at 2-2, and gave up a two-run home run that lifted the Phillies to victory.

Philadelphia Phillies v Washington Nationals Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

Before this afternoon’s 4-2 loss to Philadelphia’s Phillies, the Washington Nationals’ pitchers, as a group had allowed 11 home runs, nine of them given up by Nationals’ relievers.

After today’s game, it was 12 home runs allowed, 10 by the Nats’ relief corps.

Joe Blanton was the victim today, giving up a two-run home run by Cesar Hernandez in the eighth inning that put the Phillies ahead for good.

It was the third straight outing in which the veteran reliever got taken deep, after he gave up a total of seven home runs in each of the last two seasons, over 76 and 80 IP.

It’s not just Blanton giving up the long ball early this season, of course, as Dusty Baker noted in his post game press conference.

Shawn Kelley has given up three as well, and Blake Treinen, Enny Romero, Sammy Solis and Oliver Perez have allowed one each so far.

“There’s no explanation,” Baker said.

“It’s been almost everybody, so — and a lot of them have been to these Phillies,” he added, “because we’ve played them quite a few times, so we just have to figure out how to make quality pitches.”

As for Blanton’s outing today?

Baker said he hadn’t seen the pitch Hernandez hit out, an 0-1 fastball belt-high outside to the left-handed swinging infielder that caught way too much of the plate, but it went sailing out to right for a two-run blast one out after Blanton hit Freddy Galvis on the foot to start the eighth.

“I haven’t seen it, it just had to catch the heart of the plate,” Baker said.

“It’s been a matter of location, because it’s not that easy to hit home runs, I mean, even in batting practice, so I’m hoping that we get all of these homers out of our system early.

“He had Freddy Galvis kind of eating out of his hand and he hit him in the foot and that kind of got them started.”

He didn’t sound at all like he has major concerns about his relievers. In fact, Baker said that the arms they’ve assembled have a history of success and right now it’s all about keeping them confident in their respective abilities.

“We just have to go back to the drawing board and stay positive and stay confident and keep Joe and the rest of the our bullpen positive, because we’re going to need them and these guys have quality backgrounds, but everybody’s confidence wavers from time to time, so we’ve just got to keep confident in them and hopefully they’ll keep confident.”

Blanton, for his part, told reporters, including Washington Post writer Chelsea Janes, that it was a mechanical issue causing problems that he thinks he can fix:

We talked about the bullpen’s struggles and more on Nats Nightly after the game: