Thursday, July 22, 2010
"Don't Worry. I Got This!"
The fielding Defensive Play Of This Game Gem came in the bottom of the 6th inning when The Cincinnati Reds Jay Bruce ripped a liner into short rightfield. One of those running in--diving in catches--that if missed results in an inside the park home run. Our Washington Nationals Roger Bernadina not only didn't miss the baseball, but he quickly righted his sprawled body and threw out Orlando Cabrera well before the Cincinnati shortstop could safely return to 1st base. A second inning ending double play in as many games thanks to Bernadina.
But the mental Defensive Play Of This Game Gem came in the top of 9th inning, after Jay Bruce had singled to right with nobody out for The Reds. Washington was well into the lead at 7-1. Livan Hernandez had gone the distance to this point for Jim Riggleman's Team. But Our Manager was worried that Ole Number 61 was, perhaps, losing his effectiveness in the late afternoon heat of southern Ohio. Out stepped Pitching Coach Steve McCatty to chat with The Big Cuban. Not three seconds into McCatty meeting up with Livo and his catcher this day--Wil Nieves--at the mound--Hernandez starts laughing. He then puts his right hand on McCatty's chest and clearly says: "Don't Worry. I Got This!"
Perfect Livan Hernandez. Never a worry, nary a doubt, always composed, forever having fun.
Ole Number 61 was on again today. Solid most all season long, Livo went the distance for the second time in 2010. The only pitcher for Our Washington Nationals to even accomplish the feat once. And he wasn't going to let Steve McCatty, Jim Riggleman or anyone else for that matter, to not allow him to finish this game. Few battle with less than overwhelming stuff and succeed without being savvy like Livan. And less understand how to take a big lead given by his teammates jumping out in front 6-0 early and nursing their way home.
Up big, Hernandez knew he had the chance to go the distance. Experience tells him to just let the opposing batters hit the ball. Composure allows him to trust his defense. Which The Big Cuban did until his final and 102nd pitch was thrown this afternoon. A ball swatted to the deep left field wall at The Great American Ballpark by Drew Stubbs--hauled in by Willie Harris for the 27th and final out. A near home run that left Livan Hernandez again laughing and smiling, then taking in the special moment--his 49th complete game of his career.
Yes, Washington's offense erupted for a second straight day against The Reds. Adam Dunn and Bernadina both homered. Nyjer Morgan continued to resurrect his nearly full season slump by slapping two more hits, knocking in his fifth run of this just completed four game series, while scoring one run and stealing three bases. The first National to steal three bags in one game since baseball returned to Washington in 2005. This Getaway Game was another complete team effort at the plate and in field--punctuated by Livan Hernandez going the distance this afternoon in Cincinnati.
"Don't Worry. I Got This!"
A near perfect ending to another Livo Gem, joked about to Steve McCatty in the top of the 9th inning. Livan Hernandez knew in the final frame, just like he did in the previous eight--everything was still under control.
Final Score from The Great American Ballpark where D.C.'s Team gave their starting pitcher needed offense for the second day in a row and he ran with it: Our Washington Nationals 7 and The Cincinnati Reds 1. The generic game story will say Livan Hernandez went the distance and his Washington Teammates provided more than enough support for Curly "W" Number 42 to be put in the books. But what everyone watching until the end should remember, was a Big Cuban comprehending he was in position to save his team's bullpen, provide a much needed rest and start a new winning streak--just by keeping the game as it came to him--under control.
No worries. No doubts. Total composure. Livan Hernandez was having fun pitching for Our Washington Nationals this afternoon in Cincinnati. The Mental Defensive Play of This Game Gem by a veteran pitching that never lets anything bother him--Win Or Lose.
Game Notes & Highlights
Livan's final numbers today: 9 complete innings pitched, seven hits and one run allowed to gain his 7th personal victory of the season while lowering his ERA to 3.12. Livan and Stephen Strasburg so successful of late it's almost like "Spahn & Sain And Pray For Rain". The only D.C. Pitchers that can consistently bring home The Curly "W". Livo and The Pied Piper Washington's most effective starters all season long.
Roger Bernadina continuing to show that he's an everyday player. His sixth home run stroked to right off former National Bill Bray in the top of the 7th, moments after his Defensive Gem Double Play was performed in the bottom of the 6th. Bernadina is making himself a legitimate Big League player wearing a Washington uniform. When no one else took advantage of the opportunity given--Roger seized a starting role. The question know whether he can be as consistent? Defense wizard, plus throwing arm, speed on the bases, occasional power--there is much to like in that type of package.
Becoming the pest everyone's expected all season, Nyjer Morgan has been just that since games commenced after the All-Star Break. In seven games against The Marlins and The Reds, Morgan has stroked nine hits in 27 at-bats, walked four times, knocked in five runs and stolen four bases. Sliding head first again into bases, Nyjer has ignited the top of Washington's lineup unlike his performance in the season's first half.
Adam Dunn broke out of an O-For Cincinnati Slump with an opposite field two run homer off Edinson Volquez in the 3rd. His League Leading 23rd. Willie Harris JUST MISSED moments later with his second home run in as many games, but his lofted ball to right field came down off the top of the green padded wall at The Great American Ballpark and caromed back onto the field--resulting in a triple. Harris scoring Washington's 6th run when Adam Kennedy singled him home through a drawn in infield.
And finally, this is probably the most important point to take out of today's game at The Great American Ballpark:
Edinson Volquez was making his second Major League start since recovering from Tommy John Surgery for The Cincinnati Reds. Like Washington's Jordan Zimmermann is attempting in his rehab, Volquez made a swift comeback--less than one year since surgery. Like J-Zimm, Edinson threw smoke in his minor league rehab assignments. Unlike "The Z with Two NN's", Volquez is already back in The Big Leagues and got hammered today. He didn't look right after pitching extremely well in his first start back for Cincinnati. In fact, Volquez looked hurt after allowing six earned runs on five hits and four walks in less than three innings.
Bottom line, it's time to calm down the great late season expectations being thrown around and take it easy with Jordan Zimmermann. No matter how hard he's throwing. No matter how well he feels. No matter how many shutout innings he's thrown for the Potomac Nationals. His future with Our Washington Nationals really begins with Spring Training in 2011, not as July is about to turn to August in 2010. Jordan Zimmermann is too valuable of a pitcher. He's capable of being the next Josh Johnson--who also had Tommy John Surgery. And everyone knows how effective The Marlins' Fireballer and 2010 All-Star has performed since fully recovering from his injury. It's time to dial back the frenzy on Jordan Zimmermann's 96 MPH heaters and rehab effectiveness. It's far more important to have JZ for 2011 and beyond, not before.
Edinson Volquez found that out the hard way today for The Cincinnati Reds.
Today's In Game Photos--Andy Lyons (Getty Images) & Al Behrman (AP)