First save no big deal

The Washington Post Sunday - - BASEBALL - — Jorge Castillo

Matt Al­bers knew it had be­come a run­ning joke among some base­ball ob­servers. He had 460 re­lief ap­pear­ances, fin­ished games in 102 of them, and some­how had not notched a save in 13 ma­jor league sea­sons. No pitcher had more re­lief ap­pear­ances with­out a save since the save be­came an of­fi­cial statis­tic in 1969. Only Ryan Webb had more games fin­ished (105) with­out one.

Al­bers, 34, had chances, but the save eluded him. Then he got his first chance of 2017 on Fri­day — a chance he never imag­ined just more than a month ago when he failed to make the Na­tion­als’ Open­ing Day ros­ter and only made pos­si­ble be­cause the team was with­out both of its co-closers.

It came at Cit­i­zens Bank Park against the Phillies with the Na­tion­als lead­ing 4-2. And it looked dicey when he plunked Ce­sar Her­nan­dez with a slider to be­gin the out­ing. But Al­bers re­cov­ered to get the three outs.

“Ob­vi­ously, knew I hadn’t got­ten one,” Al­bers said. “But I didn’t really think any­thing of it [and it] wasn’t that big a deal. But it’s nice to get this one. It’s fun, but it’s not the end of the world.”

The Na­tion­als have needed him of­ten and Al­bers has be­come in­dis­pens­able for a bullpen that has strug­gled thus far.

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