When Julian Tavarez signed late in spring training with the Nats, he opened his mouth ... and inserted his foot.
He compared signing with the Nats as going home with a 600-pound woman from the club at 4 a.m., and convincing yourself that she's Jennifer Lopez. Better to go home (or to spring training!) with something than nothing.
But last night, he found himself at the center of the Nats' world -- even if that's a pretty tiny place.
With all the bullpen problems, the handsomest pitcher in the pen got his chance to close. Holding a 4-1 lead over the Phillies, Tavarez slammed the door shut, pumping his fists and shouting wildly to nobody in particular.
Bang! Zoom! The Nats get their second road win. Hey, don't look now, but they're 5-15. They've upped it all the way to a 41-win pace!
But Tavarez wasn't the only shuffling that went on. The rest of the pen pitched well, too.
Garrett Mock -- who just two days ago was viewed as so terrible that he couldn't pitch in critical 8th-inning situations -- was thrust into the game early to clean up Scott Olsen's 6th-inning mess. With two on and two out and the go-ahead run at the plate, Acta brought him in.
Mock got a weak fly to end the inning, then came back sharply in the 7th, pitching with a confidence he didn't have in his previous outing. Mock's fastball isn't much, but his breaking pitches really dive.
After him came Kip Wells, another spring training afterthought. Wells muddled through the inning in his low-rent impersonation of Jon Rauch.
The new-look pen didn't blow anyone away. But they got the job done. Considering how terrible Joel Hanrahan and Saul Rivera were in critical situations, Nats fans will take it -- no matter how ugly Julian or his late-night dates are.
Chris Needham used to write Capitol Punishment. He's amazed at how often the Nats win the third game of a series to make it look like they're actually progressing with a .333 winning percentage.