Nats’ former starters pitch shutout from the bullpen

The Nats and Mets are even at 1-1 in the series following Tuesday’s 4-1 New York win at Nats Park. After starters Jordan Zimmermann and Yunesky Maya departed in the first two games, the bullpen threw nine innings of shutout ball.

Scott Olsen, Collin Balester and Ross Detwiler combined to throw nine scoreless innings, 10 strikeouts, and just a pair of walks.

Olsen threw four innings on Monday. Balester pitched the ninth inning yesterday and two innings today, striking out five of the nine batters he faced.

Detwiler joked he was most worried about tripping on his way in from the bullpen Tuesday in relief of starter Yunesky Maya.

He said his sinker was working and the defense behind him really helped out. A double play in the sixth erased a base hit while Danny Espinosa made a good play, tagging first on a throw from Detwiler to get Ruben Tejada in the seventh.

Detwiler had to quickly adjust when some of his best pitches were not quite hitting their spots.

“I felt like my curveball was off today and I only threw two changeups,” he said.

But he fought through and finished two innings, allowing just one hit with two strikeouts.

You’re in pretty good shape when your bullpen can be fortified by three pitchers that have pretty much known a whole career of starting games versus jogging in from right field in the late innings.

With Balester, it was a decision early this year to convert him to a reliever. With Olsen, it is all about gaining confidence after a rough August. And for Detwiler, the move serves to make sure his hip feels good on Wednesday, but obviously, Detwiler is a big part of the Nats’ plans for their starting rotation in 2011.

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