Hector Neris did not forget what happened Sunday. He did not simply erase his nightmarish blown save against the Nationals and move on. Neris clung to it.
“You remember what you did wrong the other day and you repair it,” Neris said. “You have your time where you practice and think back to repair. Next time, when the manager calls you, finish the game.”
Neris did just that Tuesday night, as he struck out two San Francisco batters he faced to secure a 4-2 win. Manager Gabe Kapler inserted Neris with one out in the ninth after allowing Tommy Hunter to record the first out against lefthander Brandon Belt. Finding the right mindset — the ability to quickly recover from failure — is a closer’s daily battle. It is easy to let one night seep into the next. And Neris was faced with that task Tuesday. He won.
His role as closer might be temporary — the Phillies seem to have Seranthony Dominguez waiting in the wings — but Neris has proven dependable. He has converted seven of his eight save chances this season and has 17 strikeouts in 13 2/3 innings. He quickly erased any idea that his loss Sunday would bring a hangover.
“Sometimes, I’m not going to be perfect. Sometimes, I’m going to have a bad day and make a mistake with a pitch or mechanics, whatever,” Neris said. “Today, I came in positive and aggressive and attacked the hitter with my pitch.”
That pitch was his splitter, the pitch Neris leaned on two seasons ago as he went from afterthought to late-inning weapon. He threw nine pitches Tuesday, and seven were splitters. He had shied from the pitch Sunday, throwing it for just seven of his 19 pitches as Washington scored twice in the ninth to walk off with the win. Neris did not ignore his failure, as he instead reflected on it and recovered.
“Neris, staying composed and calm in that situation after what happened in D.C., he really showed a lot of character,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “The split played right from the start. Even the takes looked like the ball was really dipping and diving out there.”