Paolo Espino, 34, had a 1.26 ERA and a .250/.264/.404 line against in 14 1⁄3 IP in his three outings as a starter this season, before he took on the Los Angeles Dodgers in the third game of four in Washington, D.C.’s Nationals Park this past weekend
He tossed three scoreless to start, on 40 pitches, retiring nine-straight after a leadoff single in the top of the first, but he walked two batters (uncharacteristically according to manager Davey Martinez after the game), around a single in the first three plate appearances in the Dodgers’ fourth, then gave up back-to-back sacrifice flies, 2-0, on fly balls by Will Smith and Albert Pujols, before Gavin Lux hit a two-out, RBI line drive to right-center, for a double that made it a 3-0 game in the #Dodgers’ favor after 3 1⁄2 in D.C.
An extended rain delay in the top of the fifth ended Espino’s outing after 4 1⁄3 IP in which he gave up three hits, three walks, and three earned runs, while striking out two batters in a 70-pitch effort.
“The walks definitely surprised me,” Martinez said, and considering Espino walked just four in 35 2⁄3 IP overall this season (1.01 BB/9), it is understandable.
“But I thought he threw the ball well,” the manager continued. “I really did. He kept us in the ballgame.”
“Those two walks in that fourth inning definitely got me in a lot more trouble than what I was looking for,” Espino said in his own post game Zoom call.
“I think I tried my best, I did everything I could.
“After those walks and that single, I was trying to get a strikeout to see if I could minimize, but they were able to elevate those two balls to get those RBIs, sac flies.”
Had it not been for the rain delay, which went on for 1:44, Martinez said he still thought that Espino had more to offer.
“I thought he could have at least got through that inning and probably pitched one more,” the skipper said.
“We were watching his pitch count, but I assumed he was going to be good for 80-85 pitches, that’s what we talked about, and he was looking good.”
Espino acknowledged that in hindsight he might have been too careful with the Dodgers, especially their left-handed hitters, out of respect for their offensive abilities.
“I think I was trying a little too hard I think,” he said, “... keeping the ball down, I think that’s why I was throwing — I guess some of pitches were right below the zone, and I think I was also — I don’t think that I was thinking in the moment that I was running away, or anything, but I think I was trying to be a little careful, because I knew how good their lineup was, so it’s not that I was running away, but I was aware that they were a very good lineup, so I think I was trying to hit my spots too much, like too perfectly, and the balls they were ending up a little bit off the plate.”