Burnett receives confidence boost vs. Cardinals
Entering Thursday’s action, Nationals reliever Sean Burnett was having a season to forget. He allowed 15 runs in 22 2/3 innings.
Manager Jim Riggleman didn’t use Burnett that much recently because the starting pitching went deep in the game. After the pitchers were done after seven innings, for example, the skipper would use setup man Tyler Clippard for the eighth inning and Drew Storen to close.
“If the starters are going seven, [we should go right to] Clip and Storen because of the way they have been throwing,” Burnett said. “I had an opportunity earlier in the year. I put myself in a situation [where] I struggled. I don’t blame them for going with the two hot hands.”
However, Burnett was needed during Washington’s 7-4 victory over the Cardinals on Thursday night. He entered the game in the 10th inning with the score tied at 4 after Clippard and Storen allowed solo home runs to Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina, respectively.
Burnett faced the heart of the order. After getting Colby Rasmus to groundout to start the inning, one would have thought that Riggleman was going to take Burnett out of the game and get a right-hander to face Pujols. But Riggleman decided to leave Burnett in the game.
“When he got Rasmus out, I felt Burney was throwing the ball well,” Riggleman said. “To be honest with you, with Pujols, it doesn’t matter who is throwing. You have to make good pitches.
“Pujols doesn’t care if it’s a right-hander or a left-hander. If he hits a home run off a left-hander, you might feel like you should have a righty, but it doesn’t matter. Pujols hits them against everybody. As good as Burney was throwing, that was as good of a chance that we had to keep Pujols in the ballpark.”
Burnett kept Pujols in the ballpark. Pujols flew out to right field for the second out of the inning. After Matt Holiday walked, Lance Berkman struck out looking to end the inning.
Burnett acknowledged that he received a confidence boost after Riggleman allowed him to stay in the game to face Pujols.
“I expect myself to stay in that situation, to get those guys out,” Burnett said. “It was a confidence boost at the same time. I had good outings this year. I’ve been lights out and then I have been bad. It was a confidence boost to get through that lineup the way I did.”