The Nationals will attempt to stay above .500 as they welcome in the Baltimore Orioles for the start of three at Nats Park. The pitching match-up in game one features left-hander Scott Olsen (2-1, 3.15) against rightie David Hernandez (0-5, 5.84).
I caught up with Scott to get a preview of his start against the Birds. He has been lights out recently. In Olsen’s last five starts, he has allowed only 4 earned runs in 32 1/3 innings pitched for a 1.12 ERA.
Is this your best run of your career?
“I have had a couple runs like this before. When you find something like this you just try to find that groove and keep it as long as possible and try not to let anything distract you.”
Was it frustrating for you when you didn’t make the team out of Viera?
“I knew in spring training where I was and where I needed to be. I knew I would be alright and that I would get there. It took a little convincing on my part, I think. Now everything has worked out up to the moment so I am just trying to ride it out.”
You don’t love getting removed from games, do you?
“You never want to be taken out of the game, regardless if you are cruising through seven or struggling through three, you still don’t want to come out of the game. It’s going to happen. I still haven’t thrown a complete game. I have had that ball taken away from me every time. It gets frustrating after awhile.”
So has a veteran like Pudge Rodriguez been a calming influence for you on the mound?
“I think having him behind the plate is one of the factors to why I have had this much success early in the year. The more starts I have with him the better and better that relationship is going to get. I am hardly ever shaking him off as it is. I can imagine another three or four starts where I might not shake him off the entire game.”
So when you got within 5 outs of a no-hitter - the best outing of your career?
“I have gone 8 and 8 2/3 a couple of times. It was a good day. I have gotten closer before but not in that light.”
Are you still using your new sinker pitch and how much?
“I am using it a lot more. It was something I picked up in spring training. It is something I worked on in the bullpen sessions. We have been throwing it in every game. It has been working so far so hopefully it stays that way. I am throwing it to lefties and righties. I have to stay down with it - that and every pitch. If the ball gets up belt high I am in trouble.”
On gripping the sinker, is your grip like Atilano’s?
“A lot of guys have the different grips and different arm angles and arm slots and that is where a lot of the sink gets generated. A lot of the sink and run Luis gets from his sinker comes more from his three-quarter arm slot. It is hard to look at somebody else’s sinker and gauge your own. I talked to every pitcher on the staff during spring training about their grips and what they used and I tried all of them. We were able to settle on one that’s been working for us.”
The Nats need a victory tonight to avoid going below .500 for the first time since they were 4-5 on April 15th.