Not too many times does a starting pitcher allow only three hits and one run and is pulled with the lead.
That is what happened to right-hander Ross Ohlendorf on Tuesday night.
Ohlendorf allowed a leadoff solo homer to the Marlins’ Christian Yelich in the sixth inning. It was the only run he surrendered.
It held up, thanks to the two runs the Nationals scored in the first inning, and solid relief pitching for the final four frames in a 2-1 victory over Miami.
Manager Davey Johnson decided to pull Ohlendorf because he had seen the veteran take too much off of his fastballs in prior games, and didn’t like the result.
“He has done that several times,” Johnson said. “I was kind of ready for it with (Tanner) Roark. He kind of ran out of gas like he did before. But you never know with him. Sometimes he puts a lot on it and other times it is more like he is changing up off his fastball. But when he takes 10 miles (per hour) off of it, it gets to scaring me a little bit.”
Ohlendorf said the big change in his fastball was his strategy, albeit a little unusual. He just wasn’t able to place them where he wanted them to go.
“They were just kind of BP fastballs,” Ohlendorf explained. “Which I had thrown earlier in the game, too. And I have thrown at different times this year. They just need to be in a better spot. In games it has helped me get quick contact.”
He also did not believe he was losing strength at the end, instead he thought he had something left to go further into the sixth inning.
“I don’t know that I did (run out of gas),” Ohlendorf said. “I was just still making pitches. The home run was really just a location thing. He did a good job of hitting it. I felt like I still could have gotten guys out at the end.”
Even though Ohlendorf managed the win, it appeared the outing made a strong enough impression on Johnson to alter his starting staff. Johnson said there was a good chance he would return Ohlendorf to the bullpen and make Roark his fifth starter.
“That is probably where we are going to go,” Johnson said. “I will make that decision tomorrow.”
This was also a surprise to Ohlendorf.
“That is the first I have heard of it. I have enjoyed starting. I will do whatever they ask,” he said.
Even if it wasn’t the most comfortable ride, it was his third win, and with a 2.49 ERA, Ohlendorf’s unusual pitching motion and batting practice fastball strategy have worked when the Nationals have needed them most.