“He was totally locked in tonight,” catcher Jesus Flores said. “I love it. He was hitting my spots. We were pitching a lot inside to those guys and then the breaking ball was so effective to them that they (were) pretty much swinging at everything.”
“He was on,” shortstop Ian Desmond said. “He was just painting. Had everything working. It was fun to watch. Changuep, curveball, fastball. You name it. They were all devastating. One of the more impressive things I’ve seen out of him, especially coming out of that rain delay.”
“It was huge,” closer Tyler Clippard said. “We needed six or seven (innings) from him tonight. We got taxed a little bit last night and we’ve been used a lot. So it was good for him to get a good outing like that. He was unbelievable tonight. He’s one of the best pitchers in the game, and that’s what he showed tonight, especially in a big game like this. It was fun to watch.”
If you hadn’t heard, Strasburg pitched fairly well tonight.
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Flores didn’t just call a great game for Strasburg. He also delivered a big three-run homer in the fifth inning, opening up a 4-0 lead and giving the Nats all the run support they needed.
“I realized that (Paul Maholm) was throwing a lot of cutters tonight,” Flores said. “And he left that one up and I just tried to hit the ball hard somewhere and the ball carried enough to be a homer.”
Flores wasn’t just in tonight’s lineup because Kurt Suzuki caught all 13 innings the night before, he also was in because Davey Johnson was playing the stat game.
“I knew going in that (Flores) hit (Maholm) pretty good,” Johnson said. “I think he had two home runs in six at-bats and was hitting .500. The game plan was to let Suzuki catch Strasburg but I wanted Flo to catch him because he’d had some success against him in the past. That (home run) was a big blow. Big blow.”
Possibly because he was in a jam at that point, Clippard hunkered down from then on out, getting two pop ups and a fly out to end the ballgame.
“It shouldn’t be that way, but it is,” Clippard said. “When you get a couple runners on in a three-run lead, you gotta bear down. You can’t make mistakes. One swing can change the momentum into their favor. So you’ve really got to make your pitches. For me, yeah, I’ve really got to bear down and get it done.”
Clippard now has 28 saves on the season, despite only being in the closer’s role for three months.
“I feel good,” Clippard said. “I don’t really think it’s any different than it had been in the past. I’ve been used a lot, and I’m used to it. So it’s been good.”