It is hard to pull any positives from a 12-4 drubbing like they absorbed in Game 2 of the NLDS, but the Nationals clung to one Tuesday afternoon. Because Jaime Garcia left with a shoulder injury after two innings, they tapped out the Cardinals’ bullpen. In the first two games, the Nationals have seen seven St. Louis relievers, which they feel will be an advantage moving forward.
“That’s always a goal for us, to get in that bullpen,” second baseman Danny Espinosa said. “It’s a series. We wear guys out. If we don’t get them the first time, the second time, they’re not going to be as sharp. Come back a third time, maybe they have a day off or their stuff is not going to be as good.”
The Nationals have seen top set-up man Mitchell Boggs, right-hander Edward Mujica and long reliever Lance Lynn in both games. Lynn has been outstanding, but since he pitched three innings yesterday he likely won’t be available tomorrow. Having faced all those pitches, the Nationals feel they’ll have a better plan against them the next time they come in the game.
“That helps,” first baseman Adam LaRoche said. “We played them a lot over the last couple weeks. We got to see those guys quite a bit. They got some power arms down there. No question. We were in a good spot yesterday. We got the starter out after a couple innings. And then they fired four or five guys right after him with really good stuff.”
The power arm that stood out most actually entered the game in the ninth inning yesterday, with the Cardinals up eight runs. Trevor Rosenthal struck out Jayson Werth, Bryce Harper and LaRoche while hitting triple-digits with his fastball.
“A mop-up guy that throws 100,” LaRoche said. “That’s what we were saying – where do they get these guys?”
“That was absolute fuego,” Bryce Harper said. “If you guys want to step in the box, you guys can go ahead.”