WASHINGTON -- The Washington Nationals are undefeated in the Herr-Era.
The former Kansas City Royals closer entered the game in the top of the eighth inning with the Nationals holding a 9-6 lead. He needed just six pitches to retire the side in order, getting Jonathan Schoop on an infield pop, Danny Valencia on a grounder to shortstop and Trey Mancini on a fly ball to right field. Herrera then gave way to closer Sean Doolittle, who allowed a solo home run to Joey Rickard while picking up his 19th save.
"It felt great," said Herrera, who is wearing the same number in Washington (40) that he wore during his seven-plus seasons in Kansas City. "My whole purpose once I got into the game was to be aggressive with the first-pitch strike. With the fans yelling, you get a little emotional and excited out there, so I was little nervous. But you've got to do your job."
Although Herrera's job in D.C., where he'll serve in a setup capacity, is different than his role in K.C., he was every bit as impressive his first time out.
"That's what he's been doing all year," Doolittle said of Herrera, who posted a 1.05 ERA in 27 games with the Royals. "He always attacks hitters. Doesn't seem to walk anybody. He throws almost 100 [miles per hour] with a really good changeup. It was awesome."
"He's lights-out," said shortstop Trea Turner, who went 4-for-4 and added several defensive gems, include a sliding, backhanded snare-and-throw in the eighth inning to help Herrera retire Valencia. "He's a big-time arm back there, and I think it's huge for us to get a guy like that on our team. It can only help."
Along with Doolittle and fellow relievers Ryan Madson and Brandon Kintzler, the addition of Herrera gives the Nationals a quartet of relievers who've each had a season of at least 20 saves in the past three years.
"It's just another option that we have back there," Doolittle said. "Shoot, now we have four closers down there, guys that have done it, guys that have had success in that role. That's really awesome. We're going to need that kind of depth as we play some more meaningful baseball down the stretch."
"It's a nice little toy to have," manager Davey Martinez said of Herrera. "Six pitches. Came in, threw strikes. He knows what he's doing."