Williams on closer situation: "We need to address it"

Rafael Soriano has struggled since the All-Star break. And after tonight's blown save, Matt Williams said he's considering a change at closer.

Soriano allowed three runs in two-thirds of an inning tonight, blowing his fifth save in 14 chances since the break. He has a 6.98 ERA in 21 games in that span, and this blown save tonight contributed to a 9-8 Nationals loss in 11 innings.

soriano-pitching-front-white-sidebar.jpgSoriano was handed a three-run lead, but allowed a two-run homer to Carlos Ruiz and then a solo shot to Ben Revere, who now has just two career home runs. That tied the game, and Williams came out to get the ball from his closer.

The Phillies went on to earn the win in 11 innings, after Bryce Harper and Denard Span collided on a Domonic Brown fly ball to left-center, putting the go-ahead run on base.

Despite the tough loss, the Nats still saw their magic number drop to 16 with an Atlanta loss to the Marlins. But the main topic after the game was the Nats' closer situation.

Here's Williams in full:

On if he's noticed something consistent with Soriano lately: "No. Tonight was two-strike slider to both guys that left the park. He worked his way through the inning other than those two swings. But Revere hit a two-strike pitch over the fence. It's his second of the year, so it's odd. But I don't see anything that's consistent with his lack of success. His velocity is as good as it has been all year. Balls are up in the zone a little bit, I think. But it's hard to hit homers."

On if he's considering a change at closer: "Well, we'll address it, yeah. We need to address it. The workload for the bullpen over the last couple of days has been huge, so we'll have to work our way through it. But yeah, we need to address it."

On the decision: "It's not an easy decision. None of them are. But we want to be able to close those games out. Sori understands that, he's been around the block. We look back to the game in L.A. and the ball that Jayson (Werth) missed. It could've been caught, and that could have potentially boosted his confidence. But tonight, the balls are just up in the strike zone. It's not that easy to hit a ball over the fence, but we're certainly gonna have to take a hard look at it."

On if he's talked with Soriano: "We will. We'll talk to him about it and look to address it tomorrow, see where we're at. Everybody's pitched, so we'll have to piecemeal our way through that one tomorrow. But we'll certainly talk to everybody about that."

On his other options: "Yeah. The good thing about it is we've got guys who have done it before. Clip's (Tyler Clippard) done it, Drew's (Drew Storen) done it, Matt's (Matt Thornton) done it. So it's not something that's new or foreign to any of the guys. But we'll look at it. We've got confidence in everybody on our club, but Sori's been struggling a little bit, so we'll have to look to land him a little softer maybe for a few days and see where we're at."

On if he'd consider going with a closer-by-committee approach or if he prefers one closer: "We'll address it. Again, I'm not gonna let you guys know exactly what's gonna happen right now, but we have guys that have done it, so we have multiple options. I can give you that. Depends on who's available, who's fresh, who's not. But we have multiple options, which is a good thing for us. Guys who have been there before."

On who was at fault on the dropped fly ball: "Don't know. I haven't seen it yet. They're both going for it and they collided. I'll have to look at the tape, but I haven't looked at it yet."

On if that's typically the center fielder's ball: "Yeah, depends. Depends where the center fielder's playing. But I think Spanny's got that ball. I think Harp's got that ball. (The Phillies) had a similar play in that last inning, as well. It's tough when it goes in the gap and they're both going full-speed for it. That happens. You don't want it to happen, but it happens."

On why the trainer came out to check on Stephen Strasburg in the sixth inning: "Yeah, when it gets really hot, from throwing his curveball, he gets a little bit of a blister. It's not quite a blister yet, but we didn't want to take a chance on it becoming one. It's a little irritation. He's had it a couple times this year when it's been really humid and hot. He goes to the rosin bag a lot and it creates an irritation. In that regard, we don't want it to develop into something that would hinder him for his next start. Again, he's at 96 pitches after six, and there's no need to push him there. It's nothing now, but we didn't want it to become something."

On if the Nats coaches noticed something from the dugout: "He fiddled with his hand a little bit. From history, we understand that it's something that happens at times when it's humid and muggy out there. We just want to be safe in that regard and get him out of the game."

On the irritation: "It's on his finger. It's just irritation that he gets from throwing his curveball. And when it's really sticky, he sweats a lot and it causes an irritation. ...

On Strasburg's outing: "Yeah, really good stuff. He was good again. It didn't work out for him tonight, but he was really good again. Commanding fastball, good velocity, 96-97 miles an hour, and pitched really well. It was a good sign for him."

On Harper bunting with a runner at first and nobody out in the 10th: "We have that available for him, and we want to get a guy into scoring position to win that game. We took it off the second pitch, he swung through that one and he decided to lay it down himself after that."

On the team's reaction to blowing a five-run lead in a loss: "Everybody understands that we have a five-run lead and we don't want to lose the game. None of us do. But it happens. It's baseball. We've had some games where we've been down by five runs and come back and won. So it's one of those games that, again, good or bad, we have to be prepared for tomorrow. And we'll try and do that."

On the Soriano decision
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