Ryan Madson worked around a one-out double by Brandon Drury in the Diamondbacks’ eighth, to keep the Nationals ahead, 4-2, and with left-handed hitting Jake Lamb, right-handed hitting catcher Chris Iannetta, and pinch hitter Paul Goldschmidt looming in the ninth, Dusty Baker turned to Sean Doolittle for the save opportunity in the lefty’s second appearance with Washington.
Doolittle, who walked the first batter he faced in his debut with the Nats last Tuesday, following the trade with the Oakland A’s, did it again, after walking just two batters in 21 1⁄3 innings pitched with the Athletics this season.
Lamb walked to start the inning, and Iannetta sent a grounder to third for a potential double play, but Anthony Rendon threw it away and the D-backs had runners on first and third with no one out in front of Goldschmidt.
Goldschmidt hit a sac fly to right field to make it a one-run game, 4-3, but Doolittle got a fly to right from Chris Owings, and a swinging K from Ketel Marte with a 97 mph 0-2 fastball to end the threat and earn his second save in two opportunities with the Nationals.
“I’m not exactly making it easy on myself, I guess,” Doolittle said when he spoke to MASN’s Dan Kolko after the game.
“You know that’s twice I’ve walked the leadoff guy, and like I said last time, anything can happen, weird stuff starts happening when you do that, and I’ve really got to do a better job of managing that and getting the first guy out.
“But, I come right back, I make a good pitch, and the throw gets away from [Rendon] a little bit, but again, I started to settle down, and I was feeling better about my pitches, and then getting through Goldschmidt, that’s the biggest out you’ve got to get, you’ve got to be willing to trade one run there, so often it’s the case where you’re trying to strike that guy out, and you make a mistake and he burns you, so fortunately that was a big out for us right there.”
Baker talked after the win about getting to know his new relievers, after talking to a few of his fellow managers to get the scoop on Madson and Doolittle.
“I was told by Mike Scioscia when we played the Angels, and he said that you’re getting two very good guys, and I had the same comment and conversation with Bob Melvin in Oakland, and he said you were getting two of his best citizens and two of his best players. And so that’s a great compliment when you get that from your manager, and Mike Scioscia also told me that, you know, the guys got guts, especially Doolittle, he has guts.
“You see he came right after [Goldschmidt],” Baker said, “and not many people come at [Goldschmidt] like that, and then Jayson Werth reaffirmed his belief in Madson, he says, ‘Hey, man, you can trust him,’ and that’s a big word in this game, ‘trust’.”
Baker was asked if “guts”, as Scioscia said, were an important trait for a back-end of the bullpen arm.
“That’s not what he said, ‘guts’,” Baker joked, but it’s an important trait, more so than stuff even sometimes.
“I had a couple of those guys, namely Rod Beck, that’s how Rod Beck was,” Baker said, “this guy had ‘guts’, and that will take you a long ways. When you’re fearless and your team is behind you, and I mean, you know that he’s going to find a way to beat you.”
Madson and Doolittle’s teammates are definitely behind them.
“Great addition to the team,” Tanner Roark said of the relievers after earning the win.
“They’ve both been lights out, so to have those veteran guys come in here and go right at guys, and they definitely give us a boost and give us confidence.”
“Madson has been great for us,” Bryce Harper added.
“Doolittle, to come over and see him do the things he’s been doing, he never panics, that’s great to see. It’s a lot of fun to have a back end like that, possibly hopefully get one more guy in that pen, and have a three-headed monster.”