WASHINGTON -- D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said he wanted reliever Craig Breslow to work on not allowing inherited runners to score.
If that's the case, there could not have been a better situation for Breslow to have come into than the eighth inning Wednesday night.
With the D-backs up, 4-3, the Nationals had put runners at first and second with no one out against Brad Ziegler when Gibson decided to go to Breslow.
"It's a tough situation," Breslow said. "The most important thing in that situation is just take it one pitch at a time, try to get a ground ball, maybe get a double play, and then just worry about one guy on third with two outs, and not kind of get an overwhelmed feeling like you have to get three outs before you give up something. I felt like I executed some pretty good pitches."
Breslow got Adam LaRoche to fly out to right field, then struck out Jesus Flores and Danny Espinosa to end the frame.
Breslow has pitched well for the D-backs this year, compiling a 2.19 ERA in 11 games. As for stranding runners, he has now allowed just two of eight to score this year.
"I think he's getting arm strength and getting locked in with his mechanics, and being more consistent with where he's trying to throw the ball," Gibson said.
Throughout his career, the left-hander has been equally adept at getting left-handed and right-handed hitters out. Entering Thursday's series finale in Washington, he'd held righties to a .222 batting average while lefties have hit just .133.
Gibson says D-backs are working on sliding
WASHINGTON -- The D-backs have struggled at times with sliding into second base, oversliding the bag on stolen-base attempts.
"We've talked about it," Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said. "Just before Spring Training, and we talked about it [Wednesday]. All of our slides, we're on it, we're trying to get better at it."
Part of it is realizing that if the infield dirt is dry, you need to slide earlier because you will travel further, while if the dirt is wet, you can slide later because it will slow you down.
A large part of the D-backs' issues, though, seem to come from trying to slide to the outside of the base to avoid tags.
While at times that's a good strategy, it can become a problem, as middle infielders covering the bag will stand in line with the base to tag you. If you have a reputation of sliding hard, straight into the bag, middle infielders tend to step in front of the base rather than stay on it, which makes them have to reach back to tag you.
That split-second difference in reaching back can often be the difference between a runner being out or safe.
"I was a hard slider," Gibson said. "Nothing deterred me. If the guy was there, then I was going through him. Sometimes I think we try and go around the tag. We'll work on it. It's not a perfect science."
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.