Nationals led 8-5. Someone please find the off switch for this roller coaster. This is Nationals Park not Kings Dominion.
Showing confidence again in his young closer, manager Davey Johnson summoned Henry Rodriguez for the ninth frame.
Not feeling confident, Rodriguez walked the bases loaded.
With one out, manager Davey Johnson yanked Rodriguez and brought in Mr. “warm-up-almost-every-game-but-rarely-get-in” Sean Burnett.
Burnett got in alright and forced Padres left fielder Jesus Guzman into a spectacular comebacker one-two-three double play.
“If you could draw it up, that is the play,” Burnett said. “I was just looking to limit the damage there. If I can get two outs, I will get two outs by keeping the lead somehow.”
Burnett said the key for him is to keep the ball down and let his infielders make a play.
“For me my pitch is the sinker. That is what I was going to throw until I got a ground ball. Good or bad, that was going to be my pitch. I was fortunate enough to get the pitch hit back to me and execute the double play.”
He also said that warming up so many times the last few weeks is actually was a good thing.
“As a reliever you don’t get to throw pens. I was a little off. My breaking ball was getting a little loopy. I got to work on some things. I was able to work on my breaking ball and try to fix my sinker a little bit. It kind of helped me coming into this week. I feel good. I am back to where I felt a few weeks ago.”
Johnson had talked about how he hadn’t put Burnett in a few times after warming him up. To break the ice, Burnett jokingly placed his jersey with his name in plain sight on the manager’s desk. Johnson laughed but got the message.
“That was all comical,” Burnett said. “We had a good win streak going. It was nothing serious. I was being sarcastic for getting up so many times. Maybe he forgot about me. I laid it on his desk as a joke.”
What is no joke was the importance of what Burnett did to erase the craziness of Sunday that seemed to be creeping in to Monday’s ending. With the bases loaded, clinging to a three-run lead, Burnett notched his first save of the season.
And in a game that had what felt like a season’s worth of ups and downs, Burnett stopped the madness and lifted the Nationals. Easy as one-two-three.