The Luis Atilano and the Nats took on Tommy Hanson and the Braves for the 2nd of 3 in this series. I predicted weeks ago that Atilano would eventually have a disappointing night, because he's 24 years old and has only had 3 MLB starts. Well that night was last night. He threw 98 pitches in 5 1/3 innings, but he never got into a groove. He got out of a brief jam in the first, but after that he gave up runs in the 2nd, 3rd, and 5th innings, and put 2 men on in the 6th before getting yanked by Manager Jim Riggleman. Sean Burnett replaced him and, to no real fault of his own with 2 men on with only 1 out and facing the top of the order, gave up an RBI hit and a sacrifice grounder to short stop. But when he left, the score was 4-4 and although those two runners on base were credited to Atilano, giving him 6 earned runs on the night, the Nats saved him in the 8th.
In the 8th, Desmond singled on an error and then Bernadina crushed a double for a runners on 2nd and 3rd with 1 out for pinch hitter Josh Willingham. The Hammer singled to left field and scored both Ian and Bernie to tie the game. In comes Matt Capps in the 9th for an inning, right? Wrong. In comes Matt Capps for an inning in the 9th, and then back for the 10th. This is where I question the Manager.
Jim Riggleman has done a brilliant job managing this club this year. He's always innings ahead of the game in his decisions and double switches, he uses his bench, and doesn't overuse his bullpen beyond what he needs to do. I understand bringing Capps in in the 9th to try and hold onto the game, although I think he would have been more useful once the club got a lead, because that's... his job. But I digress, Riggleman made a mistake last night. He doesn't make many, but this was a big, fat, massive one.
Riggs brought in his closer to pitch 2 innings, which is 1 inning beyond what Capps should have pitched in this situation. Cappy was 11 for 11 in saves this season and just came of receiving the Delivery Man of the Month for April. Now, Capps has a 1 in the L column, and for a closer, his mentality to pitching could now change. He's no longer perfect, and that tends to affect closers in a very negative way. This club hasn't had a real closer since Cordero in 2007, and you can't take advantage of when when you get him. So Riggs, you've been a great manager all year, but you've made your first mistake. Learn from it, and don't make it again.