Tyler Clippard, and the Nationals bullpen, win again
Thursday, September 23, 2010; 8:11 AM
For the second consecutive night, Tyler Clippard won. He felt sheepish about this one. When he entered in the seventh, the Nationals led 2-1. When he left, they trailed, 3-2. But Danny Espinosa clobbered a two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh, and Joel Peralta and Sean Burnett slammed the door, and, yup, Clippard got another win. He has 11 now, which leads the Nationals; Clippard has 17.2 percent of the Nationals' 64 wins this season. Livan Hernandez is second with 10. "We'll bet on the golf course," Clippard said about any kind of contest. "Not on baseball." After Clippard's latest victory, the Nationals' all-time single-season win leaders look like this: 1. Livan Hernandez, 15 (2005) 2. Esteban Loaiza, 12 (2005) 3(t). Ramon Ortiz, 11 (2006) 3(t). Tyler Clippard, 11 (2010) 5(t). Livan Hernandez, 10 (2010) 5(t). Tim Redding, 10 (2008) Clippard's latest vultured win was kind of fluky, but what happened once he left was not. With the lead in the eighth, Manager Jim Riggleman turned to Joel Peralta, who has quietly been one of Mike Rizzo's best offseason moves. Last night, Peralta retired all four batters he faced and struck out three of them. He has not allowed an earned run in 11 innings, lowering his ERA to an even two for the season. Once Peralta did his job, Burnett entered for the last two outs. He promptly allowed a single, but then immediately induced a game-ending double play by Jason Bourgeois. Just like Peralta, Burnett has not allowed any runs in his last 11 innings. His ERA for the year is down to 2.37, and he entered last night with a team-best 169 ERA+. Clippard earned the win, but last night and for the second half of this season, Peralta and Burnett have been two of the Nationals most valuable pitchers. Not used last night was Drew Storen. He had pitched the night before, recording two outs in the ninth before Jim Riggleman pulled him for Burnett. Storen had also thrown a bullpen session with pitching coach Steve McCatty to work on some things before the game, and the Nationals did not want to overwork him. "If there's a big situation tomorrow," Riggleman said, "he'll be ready for that." The Nationals will have plenty of other capable arms in their bullpen, too. FROM THE POST A big one from Boz today: He writes Stan Kasten may or may not return to the Nationals next season, and the decision will greatly affect the team's future. Danny Espinosa busted out of his slump to lift the Nationals to a 4-3 victory over the Astros, backing up a strong start by Jason Marquis. FROM AROUND THE WEB Danny Espinosa never worried about his slump, Mark Zuckerman says. The Nationals' bullpen depth was a key last night, Ben Goessling writes. Jon Bois collected a comprehensive list of things Bryce Harper likes. The Matt Capps-Wilson Ramos trade is looking good for both sides, Brian McNally writes.