Last night in Milwaukee’s Miller Park, Washington Nationals’ closer Sean Doolittle earned his 14th save in 14 opportunities since joining the NL East division leaders.
The Nationals took a 3-2 lead with a two-run eighth, but the Brewers kept fighting with a two-out single off Doolittle by Hernan Perez giving the second-place team in the NL Central and the third team in line for one of the NL’s two Wild Card spots another shot at walking off with a win.
Doolittle got up 0-2, but pinch hitter Manny Pina battled for four more pitches, taking a ball, and fouling off two before hitting a 96 mph fastball to deep center field... where Michael A. Taylor, who’d homered to tied it up in the eighth before Trea Turner doubled to drive in the go-ahead run, made a leaping catch in front of the wall for the final out of the game.
Doolittle couldn’t watch the Pina blast to center. He stared in at catcher Matt Wieters looking for a sign, and then breathed a sigh of relief when it was caught by Taylor.
Dusty Baker was asked after the win if he thought the ball would leave the yard off Pina’s bat.
“I wasn’t sure,” Baker said. “I thought Michael had a bead on it. And I know I saw them win a game the other day when [Keon] Broxton went on the wall, and so I guess it was only fitting to win one and lose one.”
Doolittle, in a post game interview on MASN, said he was happy with the approach in the final at bat, though he admitted he couldn’t bring himself to turn around and see where Pina’s fly ball came down.
“I was happy with the sequence,” Doolittle said. “I was pretty happy with the execution of the pitches throughout the at bat, and we had been pounding him in and then we went away there. It sounded loud off the bat and I just couldn’t bear to turn around and watch.
“I was watching Pina,” Doolittle said. “I was trying to read his reaction, cause he came out of the box and you could tell he was trying to push it out there, but the guys in the bullpen in right-center helped me out and kept me in the ballpark.”
“I didn’t want to watch, man,” Doolittle continued. “I was too nervous. Like I said, I was happy with the way that I executed in that at bat, and it would have been a bummer for him to beat me that way, in that scenario, especially after the way this game went for us, so fortunately it stayed in.”