And Tankersley was right in the middle of it all again Tuesday night, trying to protect a lead against the Washington Nationals.
Two days after a lengthy team meeting, Ricky Nolasco pitched effectively into the seventh inning, and Tankersley got out of a bases-loaded jam, then picked off Alfonso Soriano, helping Florida beat Washington 4-2 Tuesday night.
“We bounced back,” Tankersley said. “There’s always tomorrow, and that’s the outlook I have to have as a reliever. Two days ago, I pitched and I got ripped. I didn’t do my job. And today I did my job.”
He relieved Nolasco (10-7) with one out and runners on second and third in the seventh. Tankersley walked pinch-hitter Alex Escobar to fill the bases, then struck out Brian Schneider and pinch-hitter Luis Matos to end the threat.
“Sometimes it comes down to one inning, one chance. That was a pretty good chance. We didn’t do anything. You score one run there, it’s a different ballgame,” Nationals manager Frank Robinson said. “We had a chance to score more than one. We scored none.”
Robinson wasn’t thrilled with the lack of offense, the high pitch count of starter Tony Armas Jr. (7-8), the three errors that led to two unearned runs, or Soriano getting thrown out on the basepaths twice—trying to steal third in the first, and picked off after singling in the eighth.
“The ballgame tonight wasn’t a good ballgame. Period,” Robinson said. “A very uninspired, lack of energy type game. Low execution.”
Tankersley did just about everything right Tuesday; on Sunday he did just about everything wrong. He blew a save, faced five batters, got only one out, walked two and gave up two hits; three inherited runners scored, and he was charged with three other runs in a 7-3 loss against the Dodgers.
That completed Los Angeles’ three-game sweep of Florida, and after losing the finale, Girardi kept the clubhouse closed for nearly 90 minutes. There was speculation Girardi and owner Jeffrey Loria argued, but the manager said before Tuesday’s game: “There is no rift. There never was a rift.”
As for what he told his players, Girardi said: “We have played bad before, and we have always bounced back, and I believe we’ll bounce back.”
After Tuesday’s victory, the manager talked about how his team did just that.
“A day off probably helped all of us, and I think it probably gave us a chance to refresh a little bit, charge our batteries a little bit,” Girardi said.
Miguel Cabrera had three hits and an RBI, and Dan Uggla hit his 17th homer to back Nolasco, who gave up two runs and five hits in 6 1-3 innings. After Tankersley got through the eighth, Joe Borowski threw a perfect ninth for his 22nd save.
“He got better as the game went on,” said Washington’s Ryan Zimmerman, who went 0-for-3.
Armas, meanwhile, allowed four runs and threw 104 pitches—only 59 for strikes—over six innings. He’s 1-5 with an 8.18 ERA in his last eight starts, the big problem being getting behind batters.
“I don’t know what it comes from,” Robinson said. “He knows it. He’s been made aware of it. I can’t—and (pitching coach) Randy (St. Claire) can’t—make him throw the ball over the plate.”
Nolasco is the third rookie in club history to reach 10 wins. Dontrelle Willis won 14 games as a Marlins rookie in 2003, and Brian Meadows won 11 in 1998. … The Nationals purchased RHP Chris Schroder’s contract from Triple-A New Orleans and he threw a perfect seventh inning in his major league debut. … It was Soriano’s first home game since the non-waiver trade deadline came and went without him being dealt, and the left fielder received the loudest pregame cheers from fans. “I’m so happy they’re happy to see me,” Soriano said.