The pink bats were out and mothers of all kinds filled the stadium at Nationals Park today. Behind another brilliant start by pitcher Livan Hernandez, the Nationals took the rubber game in a 3-2 victory over the Florida Marlins. The win means that the Nationals will end their most recent homestand with a 4-2 record and they now have an 11-8 record at home this season.
Against the Marlins, Livo displayed the same skill that has led to a rebirth of sorts for him this season. He threw tons of junk, varied the speeds on his pitches, and never let the Marlins get too comfortable at the plate against him. Hernandez put up goose eggs through the first five innings and his only blemish was leaving a sinker hanging to Hanley Ramirez. Ramirez gave the misplaced pitch a new home in the RF bleacher. Livan walked only one batter, meaning that in the last four games, the Nationals' starting pitchers have pitched 26 innings and walked only 2. For the third time this season Hernandez exceeded 100 pitches, finishing with 110, and has now gone seven or more innings in all of his starts except for his most recent one versus the Braves. In addition to his efforts on the mound, he laid down two perfect bunts, bringing his total to 4 for the season, two shy of last year's Nationals sacrifice leader, Jordan Zimmerman.
The game was handed to the Washington bullpen in the eighth inning and Sean Burnett came into face Chris Coghlan. After letting Coghlan single to center, Burnett was replaced by the Nationals set-up man, Tyler Clippard, who was making his sixteenth appearance of the season. Clippard followed Burnett's lead and let up a bloop single to Wes Helms and then walked Hanley Ramirez. The next batter, Jorge Cantu, knocked in Coghlan with a sacrifice hit to Josh Willingham and the Nationals lost there one run lead. As badly as the first three batters went for Clippard, that is how well it went for the next two. In a battle against Dan Uggla, Clippard was able to get the strikeout on a slider that got foul tipped into the glove of Ivan Rodriguez. The next batter, John Baker, made poor contact with a Clippard changeup and grounded out to Adam Kennedy. Clippard had blown the lead the night before as well, but was picked up by the lineup in a comeback win. Today was a repeat of history.