Stephen Strasburg went seven innings in his 2017 debut this afternoon and was lifted for a pinch hitter with a runner on and two out in the home-half of the seventh with Washington trailing, 2-1.
Dusty Baker turned to new Nationals’ bench bat Adam Lind, who crushed a 94 mph 2-0 fastball from Miami Marlins’ reliever David Phelps, hitting it out to the right of center field for a two-out, two-run blast that put the Nats up, 3-2.
It was Lind’s first at bat as a National and the sixth pinch hit home run of the veteran hitter’s career.
“That’s why you play those guys so much in Spring Training,” Dusty Baker told reporters after what ended up a 4-2 Opening Day win, referring to his bench players.
“Early in the year like this, usually those are the guys who are going to win the games for you. We’re not too far removed from Spring Training where they’re still kind of sharp and that was a big hit by Jeremy — I mean by Adam Lind, I keep calling him Jeremy, thinking basketball, but that was big for us, especially when we left those runners out there [early] and even at the end of the game.
“So we’ve still got to get better at picking those runners up.”
[ed. note - “Don’t worry, Adam, Dusty Baker will remember your name eventually.”]
With the National ahead 3-2 after seven, Baker turned to Sammy Solis, who tossed a quick, eight-pitch, 1-2-3 eighth and (after the Nats added a run) Blake Treinen, who worked a clean ninth for the save in his first opportunity since being named the closer late this Spring.
Treinen needed just 17 pitches total, 11 of them strikes, as he set the Marlins’ 4-5-6 hitters (Giancarlo Stanton, Justin Bour and Marcell Ozuna) down in order to earn his first save of the season.
It was his second save in the majors and just his fourth at any level of professional baseball.
His manager was impressed by the way Treinen attacked the middle of the Marlins’ lineup.
“Not only Stanton,” Baker said, “but then you’ve got to face Bour and Ozuna, and hopefully you don’t get to Dietrich, because those guys are especially tough.
“Bour and Dietrich, are especially tough against right-handers and so, the job of closer, you can’t pick who you’re going to face and usually in that ninth inning, you’re facing the heart of the lineup, which he did.”
Baker also noted that it was a dual effort from Treinen and new Nats’ catcher Matt Wieters, who called for the filthy 3-2 slider that got Bour for out No. 2 after Treinen fell behind 3-0 and battled back to a full count.
Bour was clearly thinking fastball and Treinen backfooted him with a brutal breaking ball.
Did Baker see that pitch selection as a sign of Treinen’s confidence in his new role?
“Not only that, like I told [Wieters], this is his first save opportunity like this and I told [Wieters] to work him. That’s his job. He’s been in this situation many, many times with young closers and so you’ve got to give them both credit for calling that pitch, Blake for having the guts to throw it and Wieters for having the confidence to call it.”
Treinen averaged 96.7 mph and hit 98.1 according to Brooksbaseball.net, throwing 10 of 13 sinking fastballs for strikes in the quick ninth.
Mild-mannered as Treinen appears personality-wise, he was pumped up and seemed to feed off the electricity generated by the 42,744 in attendance in the nation’s capital.
Did it look like Treinen had the mentality and personality to close out games to his manager?
His improvements last season certainly showed he has the stuff, but did he look like he liked it?
“We asked him that last day, [when] we made up our minds and he said he would love the opportunity to close and he certainly has the stuff to,” Baker said.
“I asked him how come he never stressed that or even mentioned it to us and he said it wasn’t his place to do it, you know what I mean.
“He’s an awfully nice guy with very good stuff on the mound and very respectful.
“A lot of guys would have politicking for that. He said he wanted it but only after we had asked him.”
We talked about Treinen’s debut as closer, Strasburg’s start, the Lind bomb and more on Nats Nightly after tonight’s game:
AUDIO: #Nats Nightly w/ FBB's Doghouse & @CuzItMATTers on the #Nationals' 4-2 season-opening win over the #Marlins: https://t.co/EnbbBoC9z1— federalbaseball (@federalbaseball) April 3, 2017