WASHINGTON, D.C.: “It started with a hit batsmen,” Dusty Baker told reporters when he spoke in Nationals Park moments after Washington’s NL-leading 13th blown save of the season on Thursday.
Blake Treinen took the mound in the ninth, with a 4-2 lead, and proceeded to give it up.
Treinen struck out the first batter he faced, Addison Russell, hit Jeimer Candelario in the knee with a 99 mph 1-0 sinker, and then got a potential double play out of Cubs’ pinch hitter Victor Caratini on a grounder to short.
Stephen Drew fielded a sharp grounder and threw to Daniel Murphy at second, but Murphy couldn’t get the ball out of his glove, and after pumping once, he held on.
It would have been close anyway, but with no throw...
Javier Baez stepped in with two down, and hit a 99 mph 1-0 sinker through the right side.
Murphy was positioned behind second and Ryan Zimmerman off the line but not far enough in the hole.
Tommy La Stella took a ball high and outside, fouled off a 1-0 sinker outside, and lined a 1-1 slider to left for an RBI single, 4-3. Jon Jay took a sinker inside, 1-0, then lined a 99 mph sinker that was out over the plate to right-center field for a two-run single.
“It started with a hit batsmen,” Baker said, “and then there were a lot of 1-0 counts where you don’t get ahead of the hitter, and then they know you’ve got to come in there closer to the zone than you want to.
“It starts with strike one,” Baker continued. Why was Treinen, who flamed out quickly after being named the closer out of Spring Training, and struggled early, though he’d turned it up in recent weeks, out on the mound again in the ninth?
“Our bullpen was spent today,” Baker said. “Because we didn’t have [Matt] Albers, and we didn’t have [Enny] Romero, so we were piecemealing to the ninth.
“Joe [Blanton] came in and got an out after [Oliver Perez] got two outs, and then, like I said, it’s a bad series of events.”
Baker was forced to follow from the hall leading from the Nationals’ dugout to the clubhouse after he’d been ejected for arguing over a foul-tip by Ryan Raburn that wasn’t called a foul tip, but was ruled strike three.
“I was down in the hall, I couldn’t see it,” Baker said. He just had to listen, and he could tell it wasn’t going well.
“I know I kept hearing the Chicago Cubs fans cheering, so I figured it was something that happened adversely.”
“I felt good,” Treinen told reporters after giving up three hits and three runs in an 18-pitch effort. “I just didn’t execute. Joe [Ross] threw a great game, and the offense did everything they could to get us out of here with a win and I came in and didn’t do my job. So, I need to be better. It’s getting exhausting and I’m sure these guys are sick of seeing the same result when I’m out there, so...”
The hit-by-pitch that started the ball rolling for the Cubs? “Four-seamer inside, I just yanked it,” Treinen said.
And his confidence after another rough outing?
“This is baseball,” he said, telling reporters it wouldn’t hurt his confidence.
“Things are going to go bad, things are going to go good, you’re going to make pitches, you’re not going to make pitches, a lot of people have the ability to play up here, it’s between the ears that keeps people here, so I’m not fazed by the fact that things didn’t go my way out there tonight. I made some good pitches, but at the end of the day, I made bad pitches. And they hit me around late and it cost us.”
Baker, who’s told reporters before that the Nationals need help in the bullpen, was asked if this is a club that’s one reliever away from being a really good team?
“Well, we’re a really good team now, but we still need some help,” Baker said.