Friday, May 11, 2012

Under pressure, H-Rod keeps his cool

US Presswire photo
Henry Rodriguez recorded his seventh save in nine chances last night.
PITTSBURGH -- For all the good that took place from the Nationals' perspective last night at PNC Park, from Stephen Strasburg's 13 strikeouts to Roger Bernadina and Adam LaRoche and Rick Ankiel's home runs, there was a moment that had to leave everyone wondering whether disaster was about to strike.

With one out in the bottom of the ninth, Henry Rodriguez fired a 2-2 fastball to the Neil Walker on the inside corner and the got the Pirates second baseman to whiff at the 98 mph heater.

Except the ball got past catcher Jesus Flores, so Walker took off for first base. And though it appeared Adam LaRoche made a juggling catch of Flores' one-hopper a nanosecond before Walker's foot hit the bag, umpire Greg Gibson ruled him safe.

All of a sudden, the Pirates had the tying run at the plate, and the Nationals couldn't help but wonder whether they were about to see history repeat itself.

"We strike a guy out, and the guy gets on," manager Davey Johnson said. "I'm saying: 'Oh, my goodness, here we go again.'"

The Nationals had seen Rodriguez do this only two nights earlier, blowing a ninth-inning lead in spectacular fashion with two wild pitches and a walk-off homer in the span of about 90 seconds. But if everyone inside the visiting dugout was nervous, the man on the mound insists he wasn't.

"It's just part of the game," Flores said, interpreting for Rodriguez. "He was focused to face the other guy and make good pitches."

Rodriguez rebounded to close out the game. He got Garrett Jones to fly out to right field. Then he got Casey McGehee to ground out to second.

Game over. A 4-2 win in the books. And Rodriguez's seventh save in nine tries secured.

"That was a good confidence boost," LaRoche said. "He needed that. He's one of those guys, I don't think he shows a whole lot of emotion. But you can tell when you sit and talk with him, he wants to win as bad as anybody. He wants the ball in the ninth. He wants to be the guy to save games for us. And I think part of it is trying too hard. So if he can settle down and throw 99 instead of 103, we're all fine with that."

Actually, Rodriguez didn't throw any of his 12 fastballs last night more than 98 mph. That's still plenty hard, but it is a tick or two below his usual radar gun readings.

Most importantly, the 25-year-old flamethrower emerged feeling better about himself. For that, he wanted to thank his manager, who stuck with him in the wake of Tuesday night's debacle.

"He appreciates the confidence from the manager," Flores said, again interpreting for Rodriguez. "He wants to do it well. He wants to win the game. And it was a good thing that we did it tonight."

49 comments:

MicheleS said...

Reposting and hoping someone has the answer:

For all our interwebs guru's out there: Where do you find the win/loss records that tell you the following:

When did we win our 19th game in previous years? Is there an easy place to find it or am I going to have to tax my brain by counting?

Section 222 said...

Hey Gonat......apparently the posters on this site don't pay any attention to Davey when it comes to lead off hitters. He likes Desmond in that role and OPS be damned.

Why would you say things this? You've been dissing Espi for the past week, so the same could be said to you -- "Hey NatsJack -- Apparently the posters on this site don't pay any attention to Davey when it comes to Espi continuing to start at 2B. He likes Espi just fine regardless of how terrible he is at the plate." But that would be dumb. You're entitled to your opinion, even it's different than Davey's, and in this case you happen to be right, I think.

One of the things that commenters here can do is to express their opinions on Davey's choices. Nothing wrong with that, and I get tired of people who disagree relying on the "Davey knows best and anyone who suggests otherwise isn't paying attention" argument.

Now, if you want to say, "apparently Davey isn't paying attention to the commenters on this site because he keeps playing Desi and Espi" that would be true, now that we know Davey reads blogs and the Tweeter. Hi Davey!

MicheleS said...

Thanks Ron/AmnO/1A.. Now I can gleefully look at the standings for the rest of the season!!!!

Section 222 said...

MichelleS -- There are probably a bunch of ways to do it, but the Nats page on Baseball-Reference.com has a Schedule and Results tab for each year that show the running W-L record. Looks like the Nats won their 19th game last year on May 15, bringing their record to 19-21.

NatsLady said...

2011 - May 15
2010 - May 12
2009 - June 18

How far back do you want to go?

JaneB said...

Last night, my daughter said, "Henry always looks like he's about to be called on the carpet for something." The Good Henry is so spectacularly good that I am glad Davey is taking care to build his confidence. TODAY, I'm glad. I wasn't so glad the other day. But the pros have stronger stomachs than we do, and Davey is a pro pro... Me, I need the bourbon and Maalox cocktail. And sometimes my hands, to cover my eyes.
Go HRod! Go Davey!

JaneB said...

Thanks, NatsLady! I remember how giddy I was in that 2010 season. Let's hope that 2012 is different in all good ways. I think they started to fall apart just before Stras came up in early June.

natsfan1a said...

Agreed. Can't recall which save it was, but when the game ended, LaRoche walked over and said something to Henry that caused his face to light up with a huge grin. Also noticed that ALR was the first to high-five him after the save last night (yes, I realize that they were in close proximity, but still).

NatsLady said (in the earlier thread - hey, that rhymes)...

ALR big Henry supporter, gotta like that.

natsfan1a said...

I'll second the go's for H-Rod and Davey and add one for ALR. :-)

NatsLady said...

On MLB.com you can look at "Today in year XXXX" and see the standings as they stood. Really, you don't want to go back very far...

natsfan1a said...

Meaning, of course, "go" as in the "Go, [player or team name here]!" construct. :-)

natsfan1a said...

No worries, NatsLady. Ron in Reston broke it out by year in the prior thread.

natsfan1a said...

"It" being the team record.

TimDz said...

IMHO...I think Henry will become dominant in the near future...
Last year, he mowed down a team in the ninth ...
One guy tried to BUNT with two strikes ...
FP quipped "He just told everyone that he can't catch up to Henry's fastball...

NatsLady said...

1a, yeah, those were the years I went to games with the attitude that the Nats had a better chance to win than buying a lottery ticket... but not by much.

Kevin Rusch said...

Look, there was the catastrophic meltdown in LA. That was bad. But that first game in Pittsburgh didn't bother me much. I mean, the fastball was working but the curve wasn't. So he decided "If I'm going to get beat, it's on my best pitch." Which, he threw 98 on the up & in corner and the guy hit it out. There's really not much you can do there but say "that's baseball" and get 'em tomorrow. And there's no question that he's still the best guy the team has for that situation.

A DC Wonk said...

(from last thread)

MicheleS asked:

For those who watched the Mets in 84-86: Didn't Davey do stuff like this? Leave pitchers in too long so they could learn how to work out of a jam? I am sure he did stuff with the hitters/fielders as well.

I was a die-hard Mets fan from the earliest days (I can still tell you where I was when the last out of the 1969 WS was), until 2005.

Davey absolutely left pitchers in to build up confidence. I remember one time when Ron Darling got pounded in the first inning, and Davey just left him in there. Darling ended up surrendering six runs in the first (I'm doing my best to remember this correctly), but then pitched 5 shutout innings.

When Davey was asked afterwards he said: what was the point to taking him out after one inning? What can he learn from that? Better to leave him in, and see if he could get something positive from the start -- let him leave the game on a good note.

Darling said afterwards he really appreciated it, and helped him with his confidence (who wants to go into your four days of rest between starts with your last inning being a six-run inning).

Was it crazy? I dunno. But, it sure worked. Davey took a very young team, and won 90+ games immediately for a couple of seasons in a row.

I've been a big believer in Davey ever since. And all he does is win, wherever he goes. Look it up! He clearly knows how to handle _players_. _Persons_. Not just strategy, but dealing with people, understanding what it takes to get them confident, and etc.

PS: and my view of him went up even further, for not putting up with Peter Angelos' cr@p, and Angelos ending up firing Davey during the same week that Davey won manager of the year!

Doc said...

I'll bet that Davey didn't really say "...oh, my goodness..." when Walker got on in the 9th!

I never checked the box, but the Pittsburgh announcers said an error was given on the play. If it stands that way, too bad. JFlo slipped on wet ground, and ALR did a good job of juggling the bounce.

Gooooooooooooooo Nats!!!!

natsfan1a said...

Definitely, we didn't have the best odds of seeing a win at the park back in the day. This year the odds have been significantly better. :-)

NatsLady said...

1a, yeah, those were the years I went to games with the attitude that the Nats had a better chance to win than buying a lottery ticket... but not by much.
May 11, 2012 12:42 PM

The Great Unwashed said...

A number of years ago, my wife and I met with a finacial advisor. He told us about something he called a "cowboy fund." It was a high risk, high reward mutual fund. The idea was you put your money in there for 5-6 years, hopefully come out on the plus side, then roll it over into a safer mutual fund for the long haul.

My point is this: Henry is our cowboy fund. He's high risk and high reward. When he matures, he might roll over into something safer for the future.

alm said...

DC Wonk,

Another Ex-Met fan from the 60's until 05 here.

Loved going to Shea in 60s to see Seaver, Koosman and Gentry and in late 80s to see Doc, El Sid and Darling.

In late 80s early 90s Mets would do a pre-season game at RFK and even opened Camden with a preseason game.

So excited that our boys have a chance to be as memorable.

The Great Unwashed said...

Financial advisor. I can't spell today.

MicheleS said...

Stats are a bad thing in my hands..

So went looking on baseball reference.com and over 3+ years Henry has pitched a total 111 innings in the bigs. 31 for the A's (over 2 years), and the rest for us (last year and this year). That's not that much. And not enough to quit on the guy.

It seemed like last year Henry was just trying to fit in and he did get comfortable later on the year (even though we might not have). We are going to have good days and bad days with Henry (just have lots of Bourbon/Maalox on hand)And when a vet like ALR sticks up for you, that has to say something.

Eugene in Oregon said...

A couple of points on relief pitchers in general, not just Mr. Rodriguez:

-- Nats' relief pitchers have given up the fewest runs/game in the NL, at 3.00;

-- Nats' relief pitchers have inherited 29 runners, allowing six to score (21%); that's the lowest percentage of inherited runners scoring in the NL and also the lowest actual number.

-- The average 'leverage' (essential a measurement of pressure) Nats' relief pitchers have faced is 1.228, the highest number in the NL. Breaking that down a little, they rank third in terms of entering 'high leverage' games, fourth in entering 'mid-leverage' situations, and last in 'low leverage' (i.e., with either a big lead or losing badly).

-- Nats' relievers (including Mr. Lidge) have converted 10 of 15 save opportunities; that 67% average is just barely above league average (64%), but Mr. Rodriguez's personal percentage (78%) is well above league average. If only Mr. Rodriguez's saves were counted, the Nats would be tied for second in the league in save-converted percentage.

I'm sure there are other -- perhaps better -- ways to compare bullpens, but thought those numbers might be of interest.

Nats212 said...

Why Rodriguez never talk? i mean , is always flores who talks for him, why is that?

MicheleS said...

Nats212: HRod isn't comfortable speaking English (it's his 2nd language).

Doc said...

Thanks for the stats Eugene!

Love the beaches out there---best in the country!

Section 222 said...

There's a big difference btw leaving a starter in after a bad first inning and leaving a reliever in with the game on the line when it's clear he doesn't have his good stuff or has thrown two wild pitches already. They both happen routinely, but one is smart and the other is dumb. Just sayin...

I was glad to see H-Rod get a chance to redeem himself last night and even more glad that he came through. He's an amazing weapon when he's on.

And Nats212, shame on you.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Eugene - Between you and Gonat coming up with stats today, it is much appreciated getting the research done.

Its also one thing to write up the stats and another to interpret what they mean in part and whole, and you took it a step further to give commentary on each stat.

No surprise on the "high leverage" for the relievers. 1 run leads are the toughest and the Nats and Dodgers are the 2 leading the Majors.

I will say that it was Clippard who had the toughest inning last night and has taken on some of the toughest innings this season. His other role as the stopper in the bullpen has been invaluable. Last night, he had the 1-2-3 hitters due which included McCutcheon and only a 1 run lead.

Henry has mostly been getting the mid to back of the orders so while he is perserving generally 1 to 2 run leads, its also the quality of the batters he has been facing.

I still think Burnett has to take a larger role as he has been under-used. Stammen has been excellent in 1 inning situations.

Stats seem to back up that when the relievers come out for a 2nd inning, its been disasterous.

All in all, the starters and bullpen are certainly the bright spot on this team (not including Perry & Gorzo's 1 inning from h-ll).

natsfan1a said...

Seems like as good a time as any to break out this sound effect.

Ride 'em, Davey! :-)

The Great Unwashed said...

A number of years ago, my wife and I met with a finacial advisor. He told us about something he called a "cowboy fund." It was a high risk, high reward mutual fund. The idea was you put your money in there for 5-6 years, hopefully come out on the plus side, then roll it over into a safer mutual fund for the long haul.

My point is this: Henry is our cowboy fund. He's high risk and high reward. When he matures, he might roll over into something safer for the future.
May 11, 2012 1:12 PM

natsfan1a said...

Which brings to mind a WaPo piece after Henry had a bad April outing in New York (see passage below). As AK tweetered at the time (if memory serves): #standup.

"If the ninth inning shook Rodriguez, he did not show it Monday night. After Murphy’s single, Rodriguez walked off the mound slowly, staring straight ahead, betraying no emotion. In the clubhouse, reporters gathered around him. Rodriguez had never before given a group interview in English. Monday, he agreed to stand up and speak."

'Nobody wants to go out there in the ninth and walk the first batter,' Rodriguez said. 'I feel pretty bad about myself.'"

MicheleS said...

Nats212: HRod isn't comfortable speaking English (it's his 2nd language).
May 11, 2012 1:52 PM

NatsLady said...

Did you see this article? Interesting comment from McCatty on pitcher's strengths and weaknesses.

Nationals Starting Rotation

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20120511&content_id=30955050&vkey=news_mlb&c_id=mlb

NatsNut said...

This made me laugh out loud. Good catch!

Doc said...
I'll bet that Davey didn't really say "...oh, my goodness..." when Walker got on in the 9th!

peric said...

Again, instead of bringing in far too old quasi AAAA like Youkilis et al they are developing their top prospects and winning. That was Giggleman's job and he was miserable at it.

You see they are looking into Borjous as they should.

Stop bellyaching about Espinosa.Let Player Development do their job.

The Great Unwashed said...

1A, your sound effect brings to mind Slim Pickens riding the a-bomb in Dr. Strangelove.

natsfan1a said...

I was thinking of him in Blazing Saddles, Great Unwashed, but that one's even better!

Section 222 said...

Stop bellyaching about Espinosa? Just how low does his average and high does his K rate have to go, or how many years of experience does he need to have, before it's ok for a fan to complain?

Hi Davey!

Tcostant said...

NatsLady another great story. Thanks for posting that.

sm13 said...

Great article Natslady. The chemistry among the starters is evident in every camera shot and from my perch in sec. 310.

On topic, I am very impressed that Henry had the mental toughness to put Wed. behind him and come out yesterday with command and poise. He's learning to be a closer and will be great as the "b" optiom when Druuu returns.

NatsLady said...

Interesting conundrum. Throw to the pitcher's strength or the hitter's weakness? You can see McCatty says go with the pitcher's strength: "I'll take my chances."

JamesFan said...

Huge Henry fan, and think he will be absolutely critical in the stretch. That said, I'm not sure I would have had the courage to put him back out there last night. It was the right thing to do and the result was great, but the risk was high. That's why DJ is in the dugout and the rest of us are writing on a blog. Good job DJ.

The Great Unwashed said...

Dr. Strangelove, Blazing Saddles -- now that's old school. Cole Hamels is NOT.

baseballswami said...

I have been a fan of Steve McCatty for a long time and that article just reinforced my opinion that he is the perfect person to handle this staff. With our staff a bad game would be a decent outing for someone else. They spit on quality starts.

MicheleS said...

I am guessing that on the way to work each day, McCatty just starts laughing with utter joy!

rdexposfan said...

MASN had an interview with McCatty reiterating the same stuff in the article from NatsLady's link. http://www.masnsports.com/index_medialounge.php?show_id=977695&p=

That old-school, prestigious way of Scooter said...

Dr. Strangelove, Blazing Saddles -- now that's old school. Cole Hamels is NOT.

Preach it, Rev.

natsfan1a said...

Amen!

That old-school, prestigious way of Scooter said...

Dr. Strangelove, Blazing Saddles -- now that's old school. Cole Hamels is NOT.

Preach it, Rev.
May 11, 2012 4:33 PM

rdexposfan said...

Here is the link
McCatty Interview

Joe Seamhead said...

OK, before the season started I had two predictions, one was that the Phillies series at the end of the year would be meaningless, as they would be eliminated by then, and the other was that Davey would be NL Manager of the year. I also stood by ALR, but though I think Espy needs to sit for a few games, he will be a major positive force for us before the end of this season. You heard it here.

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