WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Another day, another scoreless inning for Koda Glover.
The right-hander has now worked five innings this spring, allowing just one hit and two walks with nine strikeouts.
This time, he contributed an important shutdown frame after the Nationals had rallied for three runs in the eighth inning to knot their game with the Tigers at 3-3. That’s the way it ended after 10 innings.
“Koda was electric,” manager Dusty Baker said after watching the hard-throwing righty work around a walk to keep the Tigers at bay.
Glover followed lefty Matt Grace, who impressed the manager by getting two more groundball outs while lowering his spring ERA to 2.45 in five appearances. That’s five outs on the ground out of Grace’s last six outs recorded.
Overall, the Nationals bullpen recorded six innings of two-hit ball in the standoff. One of them, however, was the home run Joe Blanton served up to Tyler Collins in the seventh.
Baker has been enamored of Glover since he joined the Nationals last year - a season that saw him jump from Single-A ball to the majors - and especially likes his demeanor on the mound.
“That’s how he is as a person. He’s a no-nonsense guy,” Baker said. “He wants to make this club. But it’s about performance. And the younger guys, especially, are under the microscope for the final spots on our team. He could come up big in our equation because the bullpen is so important.
“He’s tough as nails, big time. Of American Indian descent, so he probably has a little chip on his shoulder that transfers to him wanting to do well.”
Ace Max Scherzer mentioned to Baker how impressed he was with Glover’s moxie last season when the 23-year-old came up in July.
“Scherz noticed it last year really, right after his first couple of outings,” Baker recalled. “He said, ‘Hey, man, he’s a keeper.’ When other guys, especially of the quality and stature of Scherz (talk), you got to listen to them. Quality recognizes quality.”
Ask Glover where that workmanlike mindset on the mound comes from and he doesn’t seem to know - or really care, so long as the positive results continue.
“I don’t know. Your guess is as good as mine,” he said. “I go out and try to compete every day. I’m a competitor. I hate losing, so I guess that’s my edge.”
Likewise, he isn’t interested in handicapping his chances of heading north on the 25-man roster.
“Like I’ll always say, it’s out of my hands,” Glover said. “That’s for them to decide. You can always make the decision tougher, but at the end of the day, it’s out of my hands.”
The Nationals’ eighth-inning rally was pleasing to Baker, who said: “It’s good to make a comeback. You get used to making comebacks and you’re gonna win.”
While starter Stephen Strasburg said his effective four-inning stint was the result of a mechanical tweak undertaken by he and pitching coach Mike Maddux to prevent the right-hander from tipping his pitchers, Baker sounded like he would have preferred his pitcher to remain silent.
“He told you,” Baker said. “I wouldn’t have said nothing.”
But after a March 8 outing in Jupiter when the Cardinals battered Strasburg for six runs on seven hits over two innings, Maddux thought something might be amiss and headed to the video room to figure out what it was.
“It’s something that Mike picked up on,” Baker said. “The way that the Cardinals were hitting him around, you knew it was something because they weren’t missing any fastballs. That’s the perfect sign that something’s (wrong). So Mike had to go to the video.”
Strasburg continues to work exclusively out of the stretch, but said after his outing - during which he allowed two runs on three hits with no walks and five strikeouts - that he was much better today at concealing the ball closer to his body. The righty also said he had simplified his delivery to make the process of gripping the ball much cleaner.
“He did it on a couple of pitches, but he was much better than he was against the Cardinals,” Baker said. “He gave up a homer to a guy who hits 40 homers - pretty good hitter, J.D. Martinez. But he was good, very good.”