The Nationals knew they would be without closer Drew Storen last night, as he was attending his grandmother’s funeral back home in Indiana. In the afternoon, Davey Johnson assumed he would use Tyler Clippard in any save situation. Then he got a surprise.
When Clippard went through his typical pregame throwing routine, his arm did not have its typical life. He told pitching coach Steve McCatty, and the Nationals decided he would not pitch, leaving them with a five-man bullpen. Clippard hopes to return tonight, but Johnson he may give him the day off again – “he’s too valuable to mess around with,” Johnson said.
“I was just a little tired,” Clippard said. “Normal stuff, thought. Nothing out of the ordinary. Just needed a day, and I’ll be back tomorrow.
This season, Clippard has pitched 45 innings, second-most among National League reliever behind only the Braves’ Jonny Venters. He had pitched four of the past five days, including three in a row.
Friday in Chicago, interim manager John McLaren resolved not to use Clippard, since he had pitched both Wednesday and Thursday. But when the game entered multiple extra innings and McLaren had been ejected, a confab of Nationals coaches called on him to pitch an inning. “It was a 14-inning game,” Clippard said. “So I had to pitch.”
All the inning added up, and Clippard felt them in his arm before the game.
“You can tell when you’re throwing,” he said. “We throw everyday. If the life isn’t there, you’re a little tired, you’ve got to let somebody know. That was the case today. I feel fine, though.”
Clippard, typically durable, was disappointed the tiredness cropped up when it did. He knew Storen would not be in uniform, and that his inability to pitch would only put the Nationals at more of a disadvantage.
“Today was tough,” Clippard said. “They’re always telling me to be vocal. I did want to suck it up, but I had to tell them how it felt. I’m pretty honest with them, and most of the time, I’m fine.”
With both Clippard and Storen, Henry Rodriguez provided a monster performance, allowing a hit and a walk in 2 1/3 scoreless innings, recording the seven outs that provided the bridged from the end of the seventh all the way through the ninth. Ryan Zimmerman credited Rodriguez for giving the Nationals a chance to win.
As for Storen, he’ll be back tonight for sure. His flight to rejoin the team landed late last night. “If the game kept going,” Johnson said, “he may have been available tonight.”
FROM THE POST
Get ready for a wild ride with Davey Johnson, Boz writes.
The Nationals’ 4-3, 10-inning loss to the Angels spoiled Johnson’s debut, but it showed him exactly how the Nationals play.
NATS MINOR LEAGUES
Syracuse 11, Rochester 2: Stephen Lombardozzi went 3 for 6. Jesus Valdez went 3 for 5 with a double. Chris Marrero went 3 for 5. Corey Brown went 2 for 5 with a triple and a home run. Tom Milone allowed no runs in eight innings on three hits and no walks, striking out six.
Richmond 9, Harrisburg 3: Bill Rhinehart went 3 for 5 with a double. Tanner Roark allowed five runs in five innings on eight hits and no walks, striking out five.
Potomac 5, Kinston 2 (11 innings): Eury Perez went 2 for 5 with a double. Danny Rosenbaum allowed one run in six innings on three hits and three walks, striking out six.
Hagerstown 5, Lakewood 2: Bryce Harper did not play. Jason Martinson went 3 for 4 with a home run. Chien-Ming Wang allowed two runs in three innings on four hits andno walks, striking out three. A.J. Cole allowed no runs in five innings on two hits and one walk, striking out six.
Auburn 13, Willamsport 8: Adrian Nieto went 4 for 5 with two doubles. Bryce Ortega went 1 for 4 with a double and two walks. Hendry Jimenez went 2 for 3 with a triple.