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Papelbon appreciative that Nats bailed him out after his tough ninth inning

Papelbon appreciative that Nats bailed him out after his tough ninth inning

One of the spoils a walk-off victory is that the winning team doesn't have to harp on why a late-inning rally was even needed in the first place.

Such was the case in the Nationals' 5-4 win over the Phillies on Sunday night, which for most of the ninth inning looked like it was going to be a disappointing 4-3 loss because of Maikel Franco's tie-breaking solo home run off Jonathan Papelbon. With the Nats Park crowd booing as Franco rounded the bases, it appeared the beleaguered closer's struggles were going to take center stage yet again. 

"My emotions were: ‘OK, Pap. We gave up one. Let’s not give up any more.’ Because we can come back," manager Dusty Baker said.  

Fortunately for Papelbon and the Nats, Jayson Werth came through with a two-run game-ending single in the bottom of the frame, which spared the 34-year-old reliever his third loss of the season and, in all likelihood, another round of criticism. 

“Totally bad executed pitch," Papelbon said of the home run, the second he's yielded this season. "My opinion most major league baseball players should hit that ball out. It was a very poorly executed pitch.”

If you went by save numbers alone, it'd be fair to wonder why Papelbon's has faced scrutiny this year: He's saved 16-of-18 games, helping Washington to own third-best percentage in that in the majors in that category. However, he's found a way to make nearly all of his appearances more interesting than he or the Nats would like them to be. Opposing hitters are hitting .266 against him — only three full time closers have higher averages against them, per— and he's allowed base runners in 17 of his 25 outings. So even when he's credited with saves, he's seemingly had to work his way out of jams more often than not. 

“That’s the life of my role," he said. "You’re not a starter where you have the opportunity to maybe go out there and feel your way through a ball game. Give up a run here and then take one back, you don’t have that luxury. [In] my role, one pitch, one mistake could be the difference in the ball game.”

Papelbon's high-wire act has been mostly sustainable, but his roughest moments have always come against his old team. Since the Nats acquired Papelbon last July, he's 2-2 with two blown saves and a 7.27 ERA over 8 2/3 innings against the Phillies, not to mention last season's infamous dugout confrontation with Bryce Harper (which has apparently earned him a potential new nickname with teammates). 

“I really can’t [explain it]," he said of his struggles against the Phils. "I don’t know, that’s just baseball.”

But unlike Papelbon's previous hiccups, his teammates not only got him off the hook, but they helped earn him his first win of the season. 

“That’s what makes a good team," Papelbon said. "Guys are going to have to pick up each other and I’m going to have to pick up guys. I’m going to be needed to be picked up some nights."

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Former Nats manager Jim Riggleman named interim manager of Reds

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Former Nats manager Jim Riggleman named interim manager of Reds

Remember Jim Riggleman, the infamous Nats manager that resigned from the position back in 2011 after a win against the Seattle Mariners? Well he's back in a managerial position.

Bryan Price was fired as manager of the Cinncinati Reds Thursday, after the team started the 2018 season 3-15. Riggleman, who spent four seasons as their bench coach, was named the interim manager to replace Price.

Riggleman was promoted to interim manager of the Nats in July of 2009, after Manny Acta was let go midseason. He stayed on as manager for 2010 and 2011, and he then resigned from the team on June 23, 2011 after a win agaisnt the Seattle Mariners. He had lead the team to a win in 11 of their last 12 games prior to stepping away.

The reason behind the dramatic exit was due to the organization not yet picking up his 2012 contract option. He had reportedly requested a conversation with the front office about his future with the organization, and was upset after they declined. At 58 years-old, he felt he deserved more respect.

He's been with the Reds organization since 2012, and has spent time managing the Padres, Cubs and Mariners, in addition to the Nationals. His career winning pct. with each team has been below-.500.


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Nationals fall after Mets score 9 runs in 8th inning

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Nationals fall after Mets score 9 runs in 8th inning

NEW YORK -- Yoenis Cespedes launched a grand slam during a nine-run outburst in the eighth inning that rallied the New York Mets past the Washington Nationals 11-5 on Wednesday night, preventing a three-game sweep.

Todd Frazier tied it at 4 with a two-run single and pinch-hitter Juan Lagares put New York ahead for the first time with a two-run double off ineffective setup man Ryan Madson (0-2).

Shut down by Tanner Roark for seven innings, the first-place Mets broke loose in the eighth and improved to 13-4 with a stirring victory against their NL East rivals.

Ryan Zimmerman homered twice, tripled and drove in four runs for the Nationals, who pulled off their own big comeback in the eighth inning of the series opener.

Two nights later, New York returned the favor.

Roark limited the Mets to two hits and left leading 4-2. Michael Conforto, Cespedes and Asdrubal Cabrera singled off Madson to load the bases with nobody out in the eighth. Jay Bruce fouled out before Frazier smacked a two-run single up the middle and advanced to second on the throw home.

After an intentional walk to Adrian Gonzalez loaded the bases again, pinch-hitter Wilmer Flores struck out. Lagares then lined a two-run double the other way, just inside the right-field line at the outer edge of the infield grass, to put the Mets up 6-4.

Sammy Solis walked Amed Rosario and Conforto to force in a run. Cespedes connected for his sixth career slam -- the third by the Mets already this season -- off A.J. Cole, sending fans into a frenzy.

Both of Cespedes' hits in the inning came on 0-2 pitches.

AJ Ramos (1-1) worked a perfect inning for his first win with the Mets since being acquired from Miami last July.

Howie Kendrick reached on an infield single for Washington in the first and Bryce Harper drew his 24th walk, most in the majors. Zimmerman, batting .121 at that point and struggling to make opponents pay for bypassing Harper, came through with a drive to left-center off Steven Matz for his second home run of the season.

Matz steadied himself after a 33-pitch first inning and retired his final 10 batters. He was pulled for a pinch hitter in the fourth after throwing 74 pitches.

Cabrera doubled to open the fourth and scored on Gonzalez's single. Zimmerman had a chance to start an inning-ending double play, but his throwing error from first base allowed another run to score on Jose Lobaton's RBI grounder as the Mets cut it to 3-2.

After Mets pitchers retired 16 in a row, Zimmerman's leadoff triple in the seventh got past a diving Bruce in right field, and Moises Sierra followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 4-2.

Zimmerman also hit a solo homer in the ninth.