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Washington Nationals overcome bullpen blow-up; walk off on Chicago White Sox

After blowing a 4-1 lead in the eighth, the Nationals walked off on the White Sox in the ninth, sweeping the two-game set with Chicago in D.C.

MLB: Chicago White Sox at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Before the Washington Nationals’ walk-off win over the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday afternoon, manager Davey Martinez talked to reporters about what has gone right for his club during their recent run of success, over which they’d won eight of ten games.

“On any given day, any one of those guys can do the job,” Martinez said.

“It takes a whole team effort and they’re providing that as we keep plugging away and keep going on. Every night it seems like it’s somebody different, whether a starting pitcher steps up, the bullpen’s stepping up, individual players are stepping up, so I like what I’m seeing and the big thing and we talk about it all the time, is fundamentals.

“Just play clean baseball and we do the little things, and we’ll play well from here on out, but we’ve got to do the little things every day.”

In the finale with the White Sox, it was Trea Turner, who hadn’t homered since March 31st, and was 0 for 4 with three Ks on the day and 19 for 80 (.237 AVG) since returning from 39 games on the Injured List with a broken right index finger, who hit a walk-off home run off Chicago’s closer Alex Colomé after the bullpen blew a 4-1 lead in the top of the eighth.

How did Martinez feel after the comeback win?

“You know what, what I feel is the fact that three weeks ago we’d probably lose that game,” the manager said, “and we ended up winning, and that’s how I feel. Hey, guys battled back, they lost the lead, they came back, and we won the game.”

Aníbal Sánchez held the White Sox to a run on four hits in 5 13 IP, Tanner Rainey got two outs in the sixth, and Kyle Barraclough, who hadn’t pitched since May 28th, got through three batters on 12 pitches in the seventh.

Barraclough left a 1-1 changeup up for Leury Garcia with one down in the eighth, however, and left a 1-1 slider up for José Abreu with two out and watched it sail into the seats behind the visitor’s bullpen for a two-run blast that got the Sox within one, down 4-3.

Wander Suero took over at that point, and gave up a game-tying home run to center by Welington Castillo on a first-pitch cutter that he left up.

Martinez said after the game that he didn’t want to use Suero at all, after he’d thrown 1 13 scoreless in the first of two with the White Sox, so he sent Barraclough out for a second inning for just the second time this season.

“I wanted to stay away from Suero, I really did,” he explained. “Back-to-back days for Suero, from history, hasn’t been good, so I figured I’d give him a day, knowing that [Sean] Doolittle would come in in the ninth, and then Doo would be probably off tomorrow, we’ll see how he feels, and then Suero could have the back end tomorrow.”

It didn’t work out that way, unfortunately.

Barraclough came in one inning and did really well,” Martinez added. “And he looked good. He just threw one bad pitch to a really good hitter, Abreu, but we need him. He hasn’t pitched in seven days. I felt confident that he was going to get those outs, and like I said, I wanted to stay away from Suero today, I really did, because now all of a sudden, he’s going to be down for 1-2 days, so now tomorrow we’ve got to figure out who’s going to pitch the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings.”

As the second-year skipper has stressed this season, as the bullpen has struggled at times, (though they were on a run with 15+ scoreless innings before the eighth on Wednesday), the Nationals need all their relievers contributing to the cause.

“We’re not going to win with three guys in the bullpen,” he said. “I can tell you that.”

“I didn’t want to use Suero today, and now he’s probably going to be down for two days, but I credit the boys for coming back and Trea walking them off.”

Had they not ended up winning the game, the bullpen blow-up might have been more of a topic of discussion, but the Nationals took both games with the White Sox as they head out on a road trip to San Diego for four with the Padres and Chicago for two more with the Sox.

“Like I said, it’s been really, really good, and every day it’s been somebody different, and that’s what makes it really, really good right now,” Martinez said.

“Every guy is stepping up. Until today, the bullpen was phenomenal, they really were, and we’re getting better. That’s what I said, every day we seem like we’re getting better, and our focus is just to win one game, win tomorrow and win one game at a time.”