ANNAPOLIS, MD: Blake Treinen’s debut as the Washington Nationals’ closer came in the ninth inning of Saturday’s Naval Academy Baseball Classic with Boston’s Red Sox in Max Bishop Stadium, home of the Navy’s baseball team. It was an exhibition game, yes, but also the 28-year-old right-hander’s first outing since Nats’ skipper Dusty Baker officially announced that the sinker-balling reliever was the choice to close out games for the defending NL East Champions.
Treinen took the mound with a 4-3 lead.
Mike Miller punched an 0-1 sinker through the right side for a leadoff single. Matt Dominguez walked in a five-pitch at bat, taking a 3-1 fastball that missed low and inside.
Joseph Monge tried to bunt both runners over, but couldn’t put Treinen’s sinker in play, eventually striking out swinging over a diving 3-2 sinker inside.
Treinen should have been out of the inning when he induced a ground ball to third in the next at bat with a 1-0 sinker to Chris Young, but 23-year-old Nats’ infield prospect Bryan Mejia missed the throw to second from Brandon Snyder, allowing Miller to score the tying run to score as he chased the ball into the outfield, 4-4.
A second walk to Tzu-Wei Lin loaded the bases with one out before Treinen struck out consecutive batters, throwing a filthy 1-2 slider by Deiner Lopez and getting a called third strike on Tate Matheny (son of St. Louis Cards’ skipper Mike Matheny) with a 3-2 sinker outside to end the threat and keep it tied at the end of a 31-pitch frame.
Baker was asked, after what ended up a tie, what he thought of Treinen’s work on the mound and how the reliever handled the pressure of trying to close out the game.
“I think he handled it well,” Baker said. “He made some quality pitches when he needed to. Like we’ve talked about previously, the sinker, he gave up a hit and a walk and then he was almost out of that inning and [almost] ended the game with a double play, which is what he’ll do, but in his defense, him and [Shawn] Kelley, they hadn’t thrown in like five days, and that’s quite a while, that’s why we were making so many pitching changes, to try to get guys some work.”
And the error on the potential game-ending double play didn’t help.
“[Treinen] didn’t like, probably the results,” Baker added, “but the results weren’t all his fault, but you have to overcome some of those bad circumstances. He made a quality 3-2 pitch to [Matheny], and I was just hoping that he didn’t walk the guy, cause that probably would have been on his mind, walk in a run, but he threw a pitch when he needed to throw it.”
Baker’s thoughts on Naval Academy Baseball Classic:
Dusty Baker talked after yesterday’s game about the whole experience of playing in the Naval Academy Baseball Classic and visiting the Naval Academy.
“Today was awesome,” Baker said.
“To see so many young men and women have a good time, you know, we ended Spring Training healthy, which is big, and it was a pretty good ballgame till the end. We made a couple of errors, the young man had a tough time at second base.”
Baker on Max Scherzer vs the Red Sox:
“Max looked pretty good. Max always looks pretty good, it’s just a matter of how good. Max is fine. He was pitching against a potent lineup that they have over there, and they’ve seen Max in the past — they haven’t in a couple years, but Max looked good.”
Baker on expectations, his players being talked about as potential award winners:
“I urge them not to read any of the awards that are thrown out prior to the season, because people have to make those predictions, but you still have to go out and play the games.”