MIAMI - We're in the eighth inning of a tie game, and though it's felt all night like the Nationals were on the verge of toppling against the Marlins, they've got a chance to take the lead with the top of the order coming up. That's largely because of the work Tyler Clippard did tonight.
Entering the game with the Nationals ahead, 3-2, runners on second and third and none out in the sixth inning, Clippard got a groundout (which scored a run) and struck out two batters to end the inning. Then, he came back with a pop-up, threw a pitchout to help nail Hanley Ramirez at second after the shortstop singled and struck out Gaby Sanchez to end the inning. He threw 17 strikes in 21 pitches, struck out three and helped the Nationals stay tied when he inherited a harrowing situation.
The stats will show Clippard allowed an inherited run to score, but to get out of that jam with nothing more harmful than a RBI groundout is impressive. And because of his ability to get swings and misses, Clippard is becoming the reliever the Nationals call on to get them out of just about any jam after the sixth inning. That's going to run his innings total up, like it did last year, but he's too valuable to a thin bullpen to be used any other way right now.
We're tied at 3 in the eighth. We'll see if the Nationals can pull out the win here.