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Washington Nationals’ bullpen woes: Sean Doolittle & Daniel Hudson on disastrous 8th last night

A 3-0 lead turned into a 5-3 deficit in a hurry in the eighth inning last night...

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Baltimore Orioles v Washington Nationals Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

It wasn’t just Sean Doolittle. Doolittle did give up the back-to-back blasts that turned a 3-0 lead into a one-run affair, but Daniel Hudson struggled too, following Doo on the mound and giving up a one-out walk (at the end of an 11-pitch battle with Austin Hays), a single (by Hansel Alberto), and a three-run blast (by Anthony Santander) that went out to left to make it 5-3 in the Orioles’ favor in what ended up Baltimore’s second win in a row in Washington, D.C.

Santander hit a first-pitch fastball, belt-high outside but way too close to the middle of the plate, out on a line, into the seats well beyond Juan Soto’s reach.

“I just think he — ball out over the plate,” manager Davey Martinez said after the loss “I know he was trying to go up in that situation, he just didn’t get it up enough... and it was out over the plate.”

Hudson said he was trying to elevate the 97 MPH fastball but didn’t quite get there.

“Yeah, my fastball at the top of the zone, it’s usually where I try to live, especially with lefties,” Hudson said, “and honestly, I thought I did beat him on there a little bit, he just got the barrel to it and kept it fair somehow.

“Honestly, just going through my mind, I haven’t been able to watch it since we’re not allowed in the video room this year, I thought from his reaction he didn’t think he really got it that great either. It just kept traveling. The way the ball is traveling this summer here it just kept going and going, and unfortunately I didn’t get it back. And like I said, just try to be better tomorrow, and go get’em.”

Doolittle staked his claim on the blame for how his part and the rest of the eighth unraveled.

“I put Huddy in a really, really tough spot tonight,” the struggling southpaw said after giving up his 5th and 6th hits and 3rd and 4th runs in 2.0 total IP over four outings early in 2019.

“He’s been so good for us so far this season,” Doolittle said of Hudson, who surrendered his first runs (3) in his fifth appearance (5 13 IP) got a blown save (BS, 1).

“[Tanner] Rainey has been awesome,” Doolittle continued.

“Ryne [Harper] has been awesome, I want to help. I want to be a part of that group and right now it just hasn’t come together, it’s incredibly frustrating.”

Hudson, who’s experienced his own share of frustration in his 11-year career, empathized with Doolittle’s.

“I’ve been through stretches like he’s going through,” the 33-year-old reliever said, “... and it feels like the harder you try the worse you get and sometimes it helps to take a step back a little bit, but we’re not all wired the same way.

“Doo is going to go out there every single day and he’s going to do everything he can to try to figure this thing out. That’s just the type of guy he is, the type of player he is, and we play catch together every single day, so I see how much he’s trying to figure things out, and it’s just one of those deals, man, it’s baseball, and sometimes like I said, if you try to do too much, it can kind of hurt you, almost worse than doing less. You try to get out of whack and maybe reach back for a little bit extra and sometimes it just throws your mechanics just a touch out of whack, and it goes from there, it just kind of snowballs on you. Like I said, I’ve been there plenty of times. It’s just baseball.”

Both Hudson and the Nats’ skipper were asked about Will Harris’s absence (with a groin injury), and the impact it’s had on Martinez’s late-game options through the first eleven games of this year’s 60-game schedule.

“Coming into the season Doolittle, Will Harris, Huddy, those were your three guys,” Martinez said. “Right now, you know ... [Doolittle] is struggling, Will is getting healthy, hopefully you get him back soon, and you got Huddy right now. These other guys are stepping up, and like I said, the [Javy] Guerras, the Raineys, even [Kyle] Finnegan has thrown the ball well his couple outings. We might have to go in a different direction right now and see what we’ve got.”

Hudson too acknowledged that Harris’s return could obviously help.

“Any time you can have a guy like Will down there it definitely a help,” he said.

“It definitely lengthens us out down there a little bit and gives Davey a few more options whether it’s seventh, eighth, ninth, sixth, whenever, he can kind of mix and match however he feels. He can throw a lot of different looks at you and play matchups in whatever inning he wants to depending on who he’s got lined up and who they’ve got on the bench.

“Any time you’re adding a guy with Will’s track record into our bullpen it’s definitely a plus.”

Last night, Hudson said, losing the 11-pitch battle and putting one on with one out started things rolling for the visiting team.

“I felt good in the bullpen warming up. Everything was kind of on time and working. I thought I threw some good located fastballs to Hays there, he just was battling me, man.

“Really good at bat, couldn’t sneak one by him. You know I lost him, just tried to do too much with a couple heaters there, 2-2 and 3-2, and just absolutely missed terribly and they made me pay for it. I thought I threw a decent pitch to Alberto, I’m sure when I go back and look at it it won’t be as good as I thought.

“Just didn’t quite get it up enough, but I got it in and just out of [shortstop] Trea [Turner’s] reach, and then honestly, I don’t know that ball was going to be fair, Santander, it looked like it kind of beat him and it just kept going. So, tip your cap, try to go out tomorrow and be better.”