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Dusty Baker not worried about Washington Nationals’ bullpen struggles

In spite of some shaky performances over the few days, Dusty Baker said he’s not raising any red flags about the Washington Nationals’ relievers yet.

Washington Nationals v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Dusty Baker is fond of saying that, “... if you can win the seventh, eighth, and ninth, if necessary, you’ve got a good chance to win most games.”

Washington’s Nationals rallied from a 2-1 deficit on Opening Day to beat the Miami Marlins, 4-2, outscoring the Fish in the last four innings with one in the sixth, two in the seventh and an insurance run in the eighth.

The Marlins rallied to get within two in the second game of the season, but fell again, 6-4.

In the series finale with the Fish, however, the Nationals took a 2-0 lead into the eighth before the bullpen faltered.

Shawn Kelley gave up a two-run home run that tied the game up at 2-2, and with the score 3-2 Nats following a Ryan Zimmerman home run in the bottom of the eighth, Sammy Solis gave up a leadoff walk in the ninth that came around when closer Blake Treinen allowed a two-out RBI single.

Miami outscored Washington 4-1 in the eighth, ninth, and tenth to avoid getting swept in the season-opening series.

“They beat us in the eighth, ninth, and tenth,” Baker told reporters after the loss.

“They outscored us,” he said, but he would not disparage his bullpen in spite of the fact every reliever gave up at least a hit and three of five allowed runs.

“I love my bullpen,” Baker said.

“These guys are going to be one of the best if they’re not already. So, that was a tough one to lose, but that showed a lot of perseverance on their side over there.”

Baker’s Nats jumped out to a 7-0 lead over the Philadelphia Phillies in the series opener in Citizens Bank Park on Friday afternoon, but the home team rallied with a run in the sixth, three in the seventh and two more in the ninth, getting within one but failing to come all the way back.

Max Scherzer was charged with two runs, one of which scored after he left the mound in the seventh.

Sammy Solis gave up an RBI double to left by Freddy Galvis that drove in the runner he inherited from Scherzer and a two-run blast by Aaron Altherr that made it a three-run game, 7-4.

Blake Treinen, pitching for the fourth time in four games, gave up a leadoff single and a two-run home run by Galvis that made it a one-run game before he shut the Phillies down to earn the “save” and lock down the Nationals’ third win in four games.

“They’re winning that seventh and eighth on us,” Baker said when asked about the pen struggling again.

“We’ll figure it out. Our guys — we’ve just got to figure out kind of -- we’re still in the process of figuring out where to slot guys in the part of the game. That would have been heartbreaking and devastating had we lost that game, but we won it and you’ve seen some weird stuff happen in this ballpark, cause you’re never really safe with the lead here because the fences are so accessible, so I’m just glad that we won the game.”

Have the bullpen’s struggles shaken his confidence or raised any red flags?

“Not really,” Baker said. “How are you going to toss a red flag and you’ve played [four] games? You know what I mean?

“So it’s like, no, I don’t toss red flags, we just try to figure out a way and figure out how to fix the guys.

“The untimely walks — the hits you can’t do anything about it. I tell you, the guy who’s really hit us hard and out of the ballpark is Freddy Galvis.

“We’ve got to figure out a way how to get Galvis out. Evidently we must be pitching him wrong, or he just loves to see us come to town.

“Like I said, we should have gotten some more runs, so we’ve just got to keep scoring no matter what the score is, because right now our offense has to do it until our bullpen gets itself together.”

Was Treinen, who was also throwing for the third straight game, tired when he took the mound against the Phillies?

“There wasn’t any question today,” Baker told reporters.

“There wasn’t any question at all. The hitters they had coming up — and he got a very tough hitter out in Odubel [Herrera]. He’s one of the best young hitters in this league.

“Today wasn’t a question, tomorrow might be a question.

“Everybody said they were feeling okay today and we go around and ask every man and our guys are pretty honest with us.”

With Jeremy Guthrie, who hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2015, starting tonight in the second of three in CBP, Baker will likely have to rely on his bullpen again.