What was Washington Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez thinking as the normally-reliable Ryan Madson gave up back-to-back-to-back singles in the eighth inning on Wednesday to let the New York Mets back in the series finale in Citi Field?
It was 4-2 Nationals at the time, but one out later, a two-out single by Todd Frazier tied it up at 4-4, and, after Madson walked Adrian Gonzalez intentionally to load the bases back up, a two-run double to right by Juan Lagares put the home team up 6-4 in what ended up being an 11-5 win which allowed the Mets to avoid a sweep in the three-game set.
“We really felt [Madson] could get through this,” Martinez explained when he was asked for his thought process as things fell apart with Madson on the mound for the tenth time in 19 games in 2018, the third night in a row, and fourth time in the last five days.
“We had him at a pitch count,” Martinez said, “and once he hit that limit that’s when I said enough is enough.”
“Madson’s our guy,” he said at another point in his post game press conference.
“I’m going to put him out there, it just didn’t work out today. Hats off to the Mets’ players, they had some good at bats.”
Martinez said, as he has previously, that he talks with his players every day to check on the availability of his relievers, and makes his choices based on what he’s told.
“Before the game I have conversations with these guys,” he said again tonight.
“The guys told me they were available, and we used them accordingly. That’s how it works, just today wasn’t [Madson’s] day, but I got all the confidence in the world in my dude, I mean, he’s one of our guys, so and when he’s out there I feel really strong about him closing out that inning.”
Madson was asked how he felt, physically, on the mound after the heavy workload of the last few days, which included 55 pitches total in the previous three appearances.
“I think it speaks for itself,” the 37-year-old reliever said. “I think I had about five, ten good bullets in there, and the ball started getting away from me after that. But that’s one of the things. I kind of emptied the tank the night before, to get that final out there, but you know what, I signed up for it, and thought I’d give the boys that inning, and obviously it didn’t work. Obviously.”
Will one day off before the start of the series with the Dodgers in Los Angeles be enough for him to recover?
“We’ll see,” he said. “We’ll see. Hopefully, yeah I think so. A nice reset would be cool, but you know it’s part of the game, it’s part of being in the bullpen, and hopefully this is a little bit of a learning experience for myself, and everybody else, and just to know what possibly could happen, and just learn from it and go from there.”
Madson ended up throwing 26 pitches in 2⁄3 IP, giving up five hits, and a walk. He was charged with six earned runs on the night, taking him from a 1.86 ERA to 6.97.
Sammy Solis, pitching for the second night in a row and third time in four days, followed up on Madson’s rough outing with back-to-back walks, loading the bases back up and forcing in the fifth run of the inning.
A.J. Cole came on after that and surrendered a grand slam by Yoenis Cespedes that made it 11-4.
Cole has now given up two home runs in his first two appearances out of the bullpen after Jeremy Hellickson took the fifth spot in the rotation. Martinez acknowledged that’s not the result they were looking for from the right-hander.
“We’ve got to figure it out,” he said. “Get him back out there, give him some chances, and see what happens.”
Up next it’s three with the Dodgers, after taking two of three on the first stop on the nine-game road trip.
“Everybody is playing really well,” Martinez said. “So we’ve got some momentum going forward, we’ve got a day off tomorrow, which we definitely need, we go to LA and play this weekend.”