Herrera appreciates confidence manager has in him (Nats fall 4-2)

NEW YORK - Nationals right-handed reliever Kelvin Herrera struggled a bit at the beginning of his appearance late in Thursday’s 5-4 win over the New York Mets.

Brandon Nimmo hit a ball deep to center field that was caught by Michael A. Taylor. Asdrúbal Cabrera followed with a solo homer to right-center field that cut the Nats’ lead down to one run.

Herrera then walked the next two batters.

With two men on and one away, Herrera focused on throwing strikes. He induced a weak pop out to first base and then struck out Matt den Dekker to get out of the jam.

Kelvin Herrera dealing blue.jpgHerrera said one problem he fought through was not being able to locate his fastball. Nationals manager Davey Martinez said Herrera’s fastball had good velocity, at 96 to 97 mph, but not the location he was used to.

“Yeah, I was having a little bit of a problem getting extension on the ball, and I was able to fix as I went along,” Herrera said via club interpreter Octavio Martinez Friday. “Finished the inning. Kept the team in a position to win the game, and that’s a good thing.”

Was the shaky start to the outing a result of being used in too many games recently? Herrera has made six appearances since June 30. No. Herrera acknowledged the recent workload but said that didn’t bother him at all.

“(I feel) very good,” Herrera said. “Just keep working hard. It’s been several days in a row, but just keep the good rhythm going and keep working hard towards it.”

Herrera believes one way to combat fatigue from frequent outings would be to build a bit more strength in his arm.

“I think all I really have to do at this point is work a little better,” Herrera said. “Find better exercise to keep my arm healthy and keep creating a good rhythm so I can keep helping the team win games.”

Herrera said not being the closer when he arrived with the Nats has not been the issue. He has pitched in different spots for his new team after closing for the Royals the last three seasons.

“It doesn’t matter,” Herrera said. “I don’t have a specific inning in mind. All you have to do is get prepared properly and go out there and do your job.”

Has he felt some homesickness pitching with a new team after spending his first seven-plus seasons with Kansas City?

“No. It’s the same baseball,” Herrera said through Martinez. “It’s a different role, but it’s the same baseball. Just got to maintain yourself, stay positive, doing the same thing.”

Despite Herrera’s brief departure from the strike zone, Davey Martinez stayed with him. The manager demonstrated his confidence in Herrera by not warming any relievers in the Nats bullpen until late in the inning. It was certainly a gamble.

Herrera said he has had a ton of experience getting out of difficult situations in his career, and was glad to be able to find a way to accomplish that goal again Thursday. He credits Martinez for trusting him in those moments.

“Absolutely. He has confidence in me,” Herrera said of his manager. “He knows that I’ve been in that position before. I’ve been able to battle and work through it. Appreciate that.”

Update: The Mets scored three runs in first inning and one in the second against right-hander Tanner Roark. New York enjoyed three straight singles to begin the game, culminating in a José Bautista RBI knock. Amed Rosario tripled in the second and came home on a Noah Syndergaard single.

The Nats countered with a Roark triple in the third. Roark scored on a Wilmer Difo double.

After three, the Mets lead the Nats 4-1.

Update II: Roark rebounds to go five innings, allowing four runs on eight hits with two walks and five strikeouts. He fires 87 pitches, 58 for strikes. Noah Syndergaard left after five innings in his return, allowing only one run.

Through six innings, the Nats offense has put together seven hits and benefitted from four walks but have managed only one run. They have gone 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position and left eight men on.

Mid-sixth, the Mets lead the Nats 4-1.

Update III: Matt Adams hits a solo homer off of Robert Gsellman in the eighth. The mammoth shot went to the upper deck. His 14th home run of the season came on a 1-0 pitch.

Mid-eighth, the Mets lead the Nats 4-2.

Update IV: In the ninth facing Robert Gsellman, pinch-hitter Trea Turner flew out to right field. Difo battled to a 10-pitch at-bat, but also flew out to right field. Adam Eaton lined out to center field to end the game.

Final score: The Mets even the series with a 4-2 defeat of the Nats.

The Mets lead the season series 5-3.

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