Thurdsay night’s game versus the first place Arizona Diamondbacks didn’t go the way starting pitcher John Lannan wanted it to. The left-handed pitcher gave up seven hits and two runs in six innings against the top team in the National League West, including a two-run bomb homerun to center fielder Chris Young.
That at-bat weighed heavy on Lannan’s mind after the game which ended in an 8-1 loss when a bullpen implosion followed his exit.
“You’ve just got to bear down and keep it as close as you can,” Lannan said. “You can only control what you can control and that’s just throwing strikes. Right now, I’m not thinking too much about what’s going on offensively. I know that these guys are going to come through but you know you just got to do what you can do and that’s what I’ve been doing.”
Washington’s offense made many attempts at coming through for Lannan but ended up stranding 12 runners on the base path. In four of the game’s nine innings, the Nationals stranded two base runners a piece and only managed to score one run all night after Michael Morse hit an RBI-single allowing Ian Desmond to score in the seventh.
Desmond led off that inning after getting hit by a pitch. Brian Bixler followed suit by getting a base with a single but Ryan Zimmerman struck out in the third spot, setting up Morse for the RBI opportunity.
Tyler Clippard entered the game in the bottom seventh and posted an uncharacteristic outing when compared to the rest of his 2011 all-star season. The right-handed reliever had only allowed one earned run since July 20 in a span of 17 innings but he gave up a total of three earned runs in the eighth.
“There was just a combination of bad pitch selection and bad execution on my part,” Clippard said. “The combination of both of those things, usually, you’re not going to succeed when that happens […] tonight was a pretty good indicator of that.”
The pressure was on the Nats bullpen to keep the game in tact but after Todd Coffey retired the side in the seventh, Clippard, Ryan Mattheus and Henry Rodriguez couldn’t manage the challenge. Mattheus left the game with right shoulder tightness, which is the same issue that had been bothering him last week. He is now listed as day-to-day. Rogriguez faced nine batters in the top of the ninth and gave up three runs and five hits before the could end Arizona’s late-inning rally.
When asked if the lack of a steady offense might be putting extra pressure on the pitching staff, bullpen included, Manager Davey Johnson responded with “Oh my goodness, it sure does.”
Washington’s bullpen combined for a total of six runs and seven of the Diamondbacks’ fourteen hits.
“As far as relievers are concerned,” Clippard continued, “the game is what it is when we get into the game so I don’t necessarily think that it should affect us at all and hopefully it doesn’t affect the starters either,” he said.
“It’s just one of those things, we’re in a little bit of a wall right now.”