ANAHEIM -- In his last three outings, reliever T.J. Tucker has given up six runs in 4 2/3 innings. Four of those runs came against the Angels on Monday. Both Tucker and manager Frank Robinson have different takes on what's wrong with the right-hander. Robinson believes Tucker has not been given a lot of work. It hasn't helped that the starters have been pitching deep into games, and Tucker is considered one of the long men out of the bullpen. So Tucker is not really needed unless a starter has an early exit.
Last year, Tucker saw a lot of action because the starters, outside of Livan Hernandez, didn't pitch deep into games. "He has been sitting out there an awful lot with these starters going six or seven innings," Robinson said before Tuesday's game. "Tucker hasn't been in ballgames and he is not as sharp. But I know he is capable of being better than what he was last night and the time before." Tucker said lack of work is not his problem. His pitching mechanics have not been right ever since he was taken of the disabled list on May 26. He said his leg kick is too high and his stride is too long. "My mechanics are all screwed up. I'm doing stuff that I didn't do last year," Tucker said. "I'm leaving balls up and making bad pitches." He's OK: In the ninth inning of Tuesday's game, Angels outfielder Garret Anderson hit a fly ball to Nationals left fielder Ryan Church. As he was approaching foul territory, Church and a fan tried to catch the ball at the same time, but the ball ended up hitting Church on the right side of the face. He was down on the ground for several minutes, but he remained in the game. Church said he suffered no broken bones, but he said there is swelling inside his face. Follow the leader: Robinson believes that Hernandez's willingness to go deep into games has rubbed off on the Nationals starters, especially Tony Armas Jr. Robinson feels that Hernandez's influence helped Armas get through the heat last Sunday against the Mariners. "Tony pitched some real tough innings and he had 80-something pitches after three innings and it was hot," Robinson said. "He struggled and stayed out there and gave me five innings and went over 100 pitches. I don't think we would have done that last year or the year before. That's Livan's influence." Injury report: Second baseman Henry Mateo, on the disabled list because of right shoulder tendinitis, is on a rehab assignment with the Class A Potomac. Mateo led off on Monday and went 0-for-3 against Wilmington. Before going to the Minor Leagues, Mateo was in Washington and taking ground balls at second base and shortstop last week. Mateo started the season on the DL because of shoulder problems and was activated on May 9. However, he was back on the DL a week later. Mateo went 0-for-1 with a walk in the 6-3 loss to the Cubs on May 13. Stat of the day: Entering Tuesday's action, the Nationals are 11-12 when they score three or more runs Did you know: The last member of the Expos/Nationals to hit a game-ending home run was shortstop Orlando Cabrera, who now plays for the Angels. He hit one on June 20, 2004, against White Sox right-hander Jon Garland. On deck: The Nationals play the third game of a three-game series at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on Wednesday night. Right-hander Ryan Drese will make his Nationals debut. He will face the Angels for the second time this season. Drese is 0-1 with a 3.86 ERA against them. Drese, who was designated for assignment by the Rangers, was claimed off waivers by the Nationals last Friday. Drese will be the fifth starter in the rotation.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.