When Jason Marquis got thrown out of the Nationals' game with the Diamondbacks on Sunday after hitting Justin Upton in the back with a pitch, it looked like it could come back to haunt the Nationals. And in a sense, it did - though it's hard to pin the Nationals' current situation on their bullpen being stretched too thin when Drew Storen couldn't protect a three-run lead.
Yes, the Nationals had to ask their bullpen to get 11 outs to win the game after Marquis was ejected. But Tyler Clippard did most of the work with a sublime 2 1/3-inning performance where he struck out six, including five of them on swinging strikeouts. Bench coach John McLaren (filling in for manager Jim Riggleman after he was ejected) had to ask for four outs from Storen, but he'd only thrown two pitches when he entered the ninth inning, and the Nationals had a 4-1 lead after Wilson Ramos hit a three-run homer.
What happened in the ninth inning fell on Storen. He walked two batters, which made an infield hit, a bloop single and a sacrifice fly sting even more. After Storen was pulled, the Diamondbacks tied the game when Xavier Nady beat out a double play with Sean Burnett on the mound. Storen, who angrily pounded the dugout railing with his hand several times when the run came in, had his second blown save of the year.
Storen has now given up five runs in his last five innings. He couldn't get his fastball down in the zone or throw it over the outside corner of the plate for a strike, and his slider was missing spots, as well. We're in the 10th, and this could turn out to be a brutal loss for the Nationals in a game they looked like they had in control.