Nats have enough offense for Bacsik
Lefty throws 6 2/3 scoreless innings; Lopez's homer breaks tie
WASHINGTON -- For him to be successful on the mound, Nationals left-hander Mike Bacsik has to stick with the game plan. He did just that on Saturday afternoon, as he helped Washington blank the Rockies, 3-0, in front of 31,674 fans at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium.
Bacsik pitched 6 2/3 innings and gave up just three hits. Bacsik was able to be successful against Colorado despite the fact that he didn't have a good curveball. He relied heavily on his fastball and changeup.
"I threw some good pitches in some key situations," Bacsik said. "I didn't throw the ball great today. I got behind some hitters, but I was able to battle and make pitches when I had to. The defense did a great job."
Manager Manny Acta thought the shadows at RFK played in role in Bacsik's success. The game started at 3:55 p.m. ET and shadows were over home plate by the third inning.
"Bacsik was outstanding. Once that shadow came at home plate, it was tough to see the ball for both teams," Acta said. "He just went after them with strike one, changed speeds. I'm sure they are not very familiar with him."
Bacsik was taken out of the game in the seventh inning because Colorado had runners on first and second and Acta wanted reliever Luis Ayala to help Washington get out of the inning. Ayala did just that, striking out Troy Tulowitzki.
Bacsik acknowledged that he wanted to get out of the seventh on his own, but he made a mistake by walking the last hitter he faced in the game -- Ryan Spilborghs. Bacsik wanted to strike him out.
"The bad thing is, I had the hitter 0-2 and I got out of the realm of what I do," Bacsik said. "I started overthrowing. I wanted a strikeout. That was dumb. I should have stayed with what I did -- sink the ball down, get a fly ball or get a ground ball. Instead, I got the ball out of the strike zone. Had I thrown that ball belt high, he hits a home run and they win the game."
Bacsik didn't receive run support until the sixth inning when Felipe Lopez took Rodrigo Lopez's 3-2 pitch and hit the ball over the right-field wall to give Washington a 1-0 lead.
Felipe Lopez was able to get the hit because he learned his lessons from his previous at-bat. In the third inning, on a 3-2 pitch, Rodrigo Lopez struck out Felipe Lopez on a two-seam fastball. On the 3-2 pitch in the sixth, Felipe Lopez didn't miss the two-seamer and put the ball out of the park.
"He was throwing strikes," Felipe said about Rodrigo. "I was trying to get on base. I was trying to work him. On 3-2, he was trying to do the same thing and I was waiting for it."
In the next inning, with Jeremy Affeldt on the mound, Tony Batista singled to left, driving in Ryan Church and Austin Kearns. Both runs were charged to Rodrigo Lopez.
"I wanted to do something and I did it right there. Thank God, it happened," Batista said. "I was looking for my pitch, an inside pitch. I tried to hit it hard."
Like teammate D'Angelo Jimenez, Batista has had a tough time adjusting to being a reserve. He had spent the last eight-plus seasons as an everyday third baseman and shortstop. In fact, Acta thought that since Batista was a streaky hitter as an everyday player, he would have a tough time being a successful as a pinch-hitter. But hard work has paid off for Batista. He is now 6-for-27 (.222) with a team-leading five RBIs off the bench.
"In the beginning, it was tough the first two weeks. Now I can handle the situation," Batista said. "I feel more comfortable at home plate. I see the ball much better. It's coming."
The Nationals are also coming around when it comes to victories. They are now 5-4 after the All-Star break and 41-56 for the season.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.