Nationals' Sean Burnett and Matt Capps take small steps forward
Matt Capps and Sean Burnett, the Nationals' closer and their top (only?) lefty out of the bullpen, currently have ERAs of 9.00 and 12.60, respectively. Tonight, though, they each made progress by throwing a scoreless inning a piece. Throw in Miguel Batista's 1 2/3 scoreless innings, and the Nationals' bullpen allowed no runs on three hits in 3 2/3 innings.
Burnett gave the team a momentary scare when, after six straight balls, pitching coach Steve McCatty trudged to the mound with a trainer trailing behind. Burnett had throw all six pitches well high, and "that's just not him," Manager Jim Riggleman said. Burnett felt fine physically, but he needed a quick mechanical fix.
"I guess they were kind of worried it wasn't looking as natural as it usually did," Burnett said. "That last two, I said, 'Screw it' and let it go. It ended up being better results."
Burnett allowed one hit and one walk. He lowered his spring ERA to 12.60, a figure still bloated from his rocky first outing of March.
"The whole spring, I've felt great and made good pitches," Burnett said. "I've just been up in the zone a few times. A lot of that has to do with my delivery and the timing, just a hair off. When I do hit it right, I've been pitching good."
Capps has been a concern for most of spring training. Before tonight, he had allowed a run in five of six outings. He vowed he would improve as opening day neared, and tonight he struck out a pair while allowing a lone double.
"I think that's the best I've seen him throw this spring," Riggleman said. "He really threw a couple good sliders. It seemed like he had the best velocity on his fastball."
March 23, 2010; 9:30 PM ET
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