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Clippard’s Final Pitches To Kemp In Both Games Were Almost Identical

It's not often that a closer pitches in two separate games the same day, and it's even less frequent that he has to face one of the most potent hitters in baseball while doing it. But that's exactly what Tyler Clippard had to do with Matt Kemp in Wednesday's doubleheader. You can read the day game and the nightcap game stories, but this is focusing on just two pitches.

Game One

With two outs in the ninth, Clippard decided to challenge perhaps the best hitter in the National League with fastballs. That alone may not have been the best decision in the world, but in game one, he challenged him up in the zone on a 1-0 pitch with a 92-mph fastball. It ended up being a flyout to Michael Morse in deep left field, but he made good contact and just missed what would have been a game tying home run. Here's the pitch location.

(Screenshot via MLB Network)

Game Two

The Nats had just made a miraculous six-run comeback to tie the game in the eighth inning, and Clippard was on for the ninth to keep the game tied for his offense in the bottom of the inning. It is extremely common to have your closer pitch the ninth at home in a tie game, because you can't possibly get a save at that point, and you want to keep your team in it for the walk-off possibility. Since Clippard pitched the ninth inning in the earlier game, there was obviously some concern about fatigue, but presumably he would have told Davey if he couldn't go.

He did a nice job getting Kemp to an 0-2 count, and then he challenged him with two consecutive fastballs. The second one, a 93-mph fastball, was in the wheelhouse of Kemp, who put it into the Red Porch, which cost the Nats the game. Here's the screenshot of that pitch's location.

(Screenshot via MLB Network)

Now, I don't know about you, but those pitches look to be in pretty similar locations to me. Kemp just missed a similar pitch at the end of the late afternoon game, yet in his post-game interview he said he threw that pitch exactly where he wanted, according to Mark Zuckerman. It was a bit high, but it was an 0-2 pitch that was over the plate, and Kemp made him and the Nats pay. You would think that Clippard would remember that Kemp almost tied the game just a few hours earlier on a very similar pitch against him, and maybe he did. It's just this time, Kemp didn't miss it.

Joe Drugan

About Joe Drugan

Joe is the Managing Editor of The Nats Blog and host of the Nats Talk On The Go podcast. He's been blogging about the Nationals since 2010 and with The Nats Blog since 2011.