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Nationals offense explodes in win over Colorado

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Nationals offense explodes in win over Colorado

DENVER (AP) -- Yunel Escobar homered and drove in four runs to help the Washington Nationals end a six-game losing streak with a 15-6 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday night.

Michael A. Taylor hit a go-ahead RBI single in the seventh inning and the Nationals capitalized on a lack of control by Rockies pitchers in a four-run eighth to turn a close game into a rout.

Bryce Harper walked a career-high four times, scoring each time to help Jordan Zimmerman (9-8) come away with the victory despite allowing six runs in six innings.

Jose Reyes had four hits, including his first home run as a member of the Rockies. Kyle Parker and Carlos Gonzalez also homered for the Rockies. Gonzalez was lifted in the sixth inning because of inflammation in his right knee and was listed as day to day.

Forging the game's third tie, Parker homered off Zimmerman to lead off the sixth but Washington went back in front in its next at bat on Taylor's RBI single off reliever Justin Miller (1-2) who had put a runner in scoring position by issuing two walks.

The Nationals drew three more walks -- one intentional -- that were issued by Tommy Kahnle, and benefited from a balk call on Scott Oberg while batting around in the eighth and tacking on four runs.

In all, Rockies pitchers walked 10 Nationals, including two more in the ninth, when they added four more runs.

MORE NATIONALS: EXAMINING WASHINGTON'S STRUGGLE BY THE NUMBERS

Danny Espinosa doubled for the second time in the game in the fourth, scoring Jayson Werth to snap a 4-4 tie.

Washington added another run in the fifth, helped by two wild pitches by David Hale, the second of which allowed Ian Desmond to score from third. Hale, reinstated from the disabled list (groin strain) prior to the game, allowed six runs on eight hits in five innings.

Escobar homered in the first following a two-out walk to Harper but Colorado regained the lead in its half of the inning behind Gonzalez's two-run homer and a fielding error by shortstop Desmond leading to an unearned run.

Reyes' solo homer in the second was his first since being acquired by Colorado in the trade deadline deal that sent Troy Tulowitzki to Toronto, putting the Rockies up 4-2. The Nationals answered in the third with successive RBI singles by Escobar and Desmond to even it up.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: RHP Aaron Barrett's rehab from a right elbow sprain has been put on hold. Manager Matt Williams said Barrett was visiting with doctors and undergoing a round of tests to try to get a better handle on the problem. "Last time he went out and pitched, he didn't feel good," Williams said.

Rockies: Centerfielder Charlie Blackmon was held out of the starting lineup because of illness before entering in the sixth in place of the injured Gonzalez. ... RHP Chad Bettis, on the 15-day disabled list since mid-July because of inflammation in his pitching elbow, was slated to throw 80-85 pitches Thursday in a rehab start for Triple A Albuquerque.

UP NEXT

Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg is slated to make his seventh career start against Colorado. He's 3-3 with a 2.77 ERA in his six previous starts against the Rockies.

Rockies: LHP Jorge De La Rosa has enjoyed past success against the Nationals, going 5-2 with a 4.12 ERA in nine career starts against them.

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Is Nationals closer Sean Doolittle being pushed too much early in the season?

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Is Nationals closer Sean Doolittle being pushed too much early in the season?

Sean Doolittle joked about his usage early last May. In late April, he pitched three consecutive days. May 3, he picked up a five-out save. Being pushed so early in the season opened his eyes behind his clear goggles. 

“I guess the training wheels are off,” Doolittle said then. 

The Nationals pushed Doolittle because early April was bad. A four-game, season-opening sweep of Cincinnati gave way to an 11-16 first month. Washington played at a 70-win pace the three-plus weeks after leaving Ohio feeling good about itself. Which forced new manager Davey Martinez to predominantly use only the relievers he had the utmost trust in. Doolittle was part of that band, and pitched 12 innings in 12 appearances across April. He pitched 12 more in May, seven in June, three in July and zero in August because he was injured. 

Doolittle has 10 appearances on his ledger this season. Seven games remain in April. Washington enters play Tuesday a game under .500, roiled by the league’s worst bullpen. He’ll have every chance to pass 12 appearances by the end of April, something he’s done once before. That was in 2016. Doolittle threw just 39 innings that year because shoulder inflammation did not allow him to pitch in July or August. 

Which begs multiple questions: Is his usage out of the ordinary as compared to the league? How foreign is it for him? And, is there any reasonable way to avoid it when managing the league’s worst bullpen? 

To the last question first. No. No is the answer. Martinez can’t trust anyone outside of Doolittle no matter the situation. Wander Suero and Kyle Barraclough are probably 2-3 in the Bullpen Trust Rankings, at the moment. Each allowed a home run Monday night in Colorado. Which is why Doolittle enters 5-0 games, adding another appearance to his total. 

Doolittle’s total pitches thrown is not outlandish as compared to general relievers in the rest of the league. Coming into Tuesday, Doolittle was 33rd in the National League among bullpen dwellers. The Mets have three of the top eight among NL relievers in pitches thrown. Their bullpen is 27th in ERA. In other words, New York is bludgeoning a specific trio early in the season just to achieve a bottom-end result. That’s a bad mix. 

But, Doolittle’s pitch count matters more specific to him and when related to closers. He’s thrown more than 1,000 pitches once -- six years ago when he made a career-high 70 appearances for Oakland. A 928-pitch season followed. Otherwise, he has never eclipsed 800 pitches in a year. He’s averaging 17.3 pitches per outing this season. If he makes 60 appearances -- 10 fewer than his career-best -- Doolittle will still set a career-high in pitches thrown, at this rate. 

Doolittle is also third among full-time National League closers in pitches thrown. 

Another way to look at common usage is simply checking on last season’s top-five saves leaders in the National League. Wade Davis pitched 65 ⅓ innings, Kenley Jansen 71 ⅔, Felipe Vazquez 70, Brad Boxberger 53 ⅓, Raisel Iglesias 72. The top-five closers worked less the season before. Only Corey Knebel cracked 70 innings. Three of the top five did not exceed 60. 

The most rapid -- and perhaps only -- in-house way to lighten Doolittle’s work is to get Trevor Rosenthal right. If Rosenthal is ever able to take just two appearances per month from Doolittle, a profound benefit for Doolittle will follow. This is a premise Washington was working under when it signed Rosenthal. It’s also a premise emphatically flushed by his early yips.

Piled together, a 70-plus appearance, 1,000-pitch season for Doolittle is extreme. Yet, that’s where he’s heading, if he can make it.

 

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Jake Arrieta calls out teammate Bryce Harper after getting ejected

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Jake Arrieta calls out teammate Bryce Harper after getting ejected

Things aren't always sunny in Philadelphia, and Monday night proved that for Bryce Harper and the Phillies.

After making comments that were what home plate umpire Mark Carlson deemed both personal and foul while in the batter's box during his fourth inning at-bat, Bryce Harper was ejected

On top of that, pitcher Jake Arrieta voiced his concern about his teammate getting himself sent to the clubhouse with the Phillies down 2-1 to the New York Mets.

"He's got to understand, we need him in right field," Arrieta said after the game. "I don't care how bad the umpire is. He wasn't great for either side. I'm out there trying to make pitches, he misses some calls. So what? We need him out there."

"We were flat from start to finish. Two-hour delay, it doesn't matter. We have to be ready to play. We weren't and it showed," he added. "It's troubling. I'm out there doing everything I can to win a game. I need my guys behind me and they weren't."

Monday's ejection marked the 12th of Harper's eight-year career, according to NBC Sports Philadelphia's Corey Seidman. None of which Harper got called out for by one of his Nationals teammates. His 12 ejections is the second-most active among active players behind Matt Kemp. 

"We need him in right field. I don't care how bad (the ump) is, I need him in right field, I need him at the plate and he wasn't there. So that hurts. He missed some pitches but for both sides," Arrieta said. "If that's the case, that happens on a nightly basis usually. The umpire is going to miss some calls. So what? Next pitch. We've got a game to play.

"I'm not happy with the way we showed up today. We need to come out tomorrow ready to go."

So far in 2019, Harper has 22 hits in 81 at-bats, 14 RBIs and five home runs. 

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