It is what relievers are supposed to do. But Craig Stammen has only been a reliever for one week.
The Nationals right-hander arrived in the fifth inning Saturday night after Jason Marquis struggled in getting guys out. The bases were loaded and there were no outs. The Diamondbacks third hitter, Justin Upton, was at the plate and the Snakes led 4-2.
Stammen managed to induce a double play off the bat of Upton and struck out the dangerous Adam LaRoche.
Facing only two batters, he got three outs, and the Nats got out of the frame allowing just a single run, and now were down a manageable 5-2.
Stammen says he is adjusting to being a reliever with every appearance, erasing a rough outing Thursday against the Marlins. “I am getting a little more comfortable, not just because today was a better result. I felt comfortable the last time coming in in the middle of an inning.
“It is something to get used to. You have to get your mentality a little bit right and your focus a little different. When you are a starter you have four days to think about it. In the pen you have about ten minutes to think about it. I was fortunate today it worked out for me.”
Manager Jim Riggleman decided to give Stammen only one inning because he had been using him so often in the last week.
Stammen says he was okay with having to exit after just one inning. “I could have went more. But (Riggleman) is thinking about the rest of the series and the rest of the week.
“In that situation in the 5th inning, I was due up 2nd and we were still close. We needed to score runs. I am not going to hit in that situation unless we got a man on and I was bunting.”
Stammen didn’t notice much of a difference in how much more effective he was in this game, even though he allowed the two runs on three hits against Florida just two days ago.
“My stuff has been good every time I have been out there. I have been able to strike out more guys than I ever have as a starter. I can take positives from all my relief stints so far. It is just fine tuning things a little bit. You are kind of learning the role and being able to be prepared for that role.”