For as historically dominant as Zack Greinke was Sunday afternoon, the Nationals -- in a way -- actually had the Dodgers right where they wanted them as the ninth inning began.
They were only trailing 1-0, had the top of the order due up in the bottom of the frame and knew that Greinke was done for the day. All that was needed was a scoreless inning from reliever Blake Treinen to have a shot at a very realistic comeback effort.
"He’s a guy that we can go to [in that spot]," said manager Matt Williams. "He’s our long guy. If we tie that game, he’s still in the game. If he gets through that inning easy."
But unfortunately for Treinen, who hadn't pitched in over a week, the inning was anything but easy.
It began with back-to-back singles from Justin Turner and Joc Pederson and a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners to second and third. Williams then elected to intentionally walk Adrian Gonzalez to load the bases, keeping the double play ball alive against Andre Ethier. But the move backfired, as the Dodgers had three straight singles to plate four additional runs to make it 5-0, thwarting any hopes of walk-off magic.
"Just didn't make pitches when I needed to," Treinen said afterward. "Balls found holes. Didn't put guys away when I was up in the count so when you make mistakes, hitters are going to make you pay.
"[Intentionally walking Gonzalez] should make it easier. It's a force out once there's a guy on first. I go out there and throw sinkers and breaking balls down in the zone trying to force contact. I just made a mistake, fastball stayed up and over the zone, and he made me pay for it. Should have made a better pitch."
The final line wasn't a pretty one for the 27-year-old righty: Four runs on five hits in just 1/3 innings pitched. Prior to Sunday, he had never allowed more than three runs in any relief appearance in his career.
After his worst outing of the season, Treinen's ERA now sits at 4.39. Though he hadn't allowed any runs in his prior six appearances, his latest struggles might have reignited calls from the fanbase for the team to address its bullpen concerns.
Treinen is apart of a relief corps that, aside from closer Drew Storen, appears to be a collection of arms that do not yet have clearly-defined roles. They've yet to find their sure-fire, go-to eighth inning option (though veteran Casey Janssen is making his case), and injuries continue to keep things in flux.
It's clear the Nats agree that they need reinforcements, promoting Abel de los Santos from AA Harrisburg Monday morning. But with the trade deadline less than two weeks away, are more moves in store?