NEW YORK - The Nationals bullpen has allowed only two of 19 inherited runners to score, a 10.5 percent clip, which is tops in the National League and third in major league baseball.
Left-hander Sammy SolÃs arrived in the sixth inning and got out of a two-on, one-out jam to preserve the Nationals' lead in a game they went on to win 5-2. He stuck out pinch-hitter JosÃ© Reyes and got Amed Rosario to pop out in full territory up the first base line.
SolÃs had gotten up to warm three times on Monday night, but did not enter the game. Tuesday, he looked as strong as ever, hitting 93.9 on the radar gun with his fastball in 30-degree weather.
So does the bullpen need rest, or can manager Davey Martinez just rely on them to go out regardless of the situation? Doolittle believes regular work, even more than you might have felt you needed, can allow you to keep your pitches in the strike zone.
"That's a slippery slope, so you do have to be conscious about not building in excuses for yourself, and that's where I think us having come together and worked together last year as a group comes into play, because we can hold each other accountable," Doolittle said. "There also have been days when guys have needed a day off.
"I needed a day off yesterday, and Kintzler and Madson picked me up. Being willing to communicate that to your team and know that they're going to step up and take care of business really helps. But in a way, it can also be a good thing because you pitch relatively regularly. You stay in a rhythm. It keeps you from getting rusty and not having three, four, five days off sometimes. It can be a good thing too."
Shortstop Trea Turner was at his best offensively in game two, smacking two doubles and a single, scoring two runs and earning his eighth stolen base. He walked once and did not strike out working out of the leadoff spot.
Turner said he has felt good at the plate since the start of this series Monday night: "I started getting those hits yesterday. Then my last at-bat I felt really good and smooth, too. I felt good for a while, but now I'm starting to see results."
The club also did a quality job of playing solid defense and being aggressive on the base paths. The team did not commit an error and forced one double play. They also stole three bases and added a pair of important sacrifices to move up runners. Turner believes the Nationals have so much talent that it was inevitable the fundamentals Martinez had preached in West Palm Beach would finally take over.
"I think it happens, but at the same time, his number one rule from day one was: Don't give them more than 27 outs," Turner noted. "I guess that's more of a defensive mindset, but it's still playing the game clean. Then when we get more than 27 outs on offense, it makes it harder on them. Like I said before, I think the strikeouts definitely put more pressure on them, more plays they have to make, more balls that can fall and find a hole."
* Low Single-A Hagerstown outfielder Juan Soto has four homers and 20 RBIs in his first 12 games. An opposite-field, left-center 430-foot monster blast he had April 10 in Columbia, S.C. against the Mets affiliate has many buzzing about his power abilities.
"It was ridiculous," said manager Patrick Anderson.
Soto is ranked No. 2 in the Nationals organization for prospects by MLB.com.