It was vintage Livan Hernandez yesterday afternoon on a steamy day in Cincinnati, as the 245 pound righty earned his seventh win of the season in a 7-1 complete game win over the Reds, splitting the series at two games a piece.
The game wasn’t that much of a contest right from the get go thanks to six runs scored by Washington in the games first three innings. The Reds sent out Edinson Volquez, who was making his second start of the year, to try and snatch the final game of the four game series. Unfortunately, Volquez couldn’t get out of the third and finished the day going 2.1 innings, giving up five hits, six runs (all earned), and allowing four walks.
Batting leadoff, Nyjer Morgan got his career day started after being walked on the first five pitches of the game, then it was off to the races as he swiped second base (the first of three) with Roger Bernadina batting. Morgan then advanced to third thanks to a deep fly out by Bernadina and eventually scored on a Ryan Zimmerman ground out, giving the Nats an early 1-0 lead. Washington was far from done.
The following inning, Volquez had issued three consecutive walks to Willie Harris, Adam Kennedy, and Wil Nieves, bringing the dangerous Livan and his nine career home runs to the dish. One of baseballs most cliché terms is telling a pitcher to “help himself out” during his at bat, and that is exactly what Livan did when he singled up the middle allowing Harris to score. The Nats struck again that inning when Morgan grounded into a fielder’s choice sending Kennedy home, putting Washington ahead 3-0 at the end of two.
The third inning was when the wheels really fell off for Volquez and the Reds. Adam Dunn, who spend parts of eight seasons in Cincinnati, welcomed himself back to the Midwest by muscling an opposite field two run homer that bounced off the top of the yellow line and into the stands. Then, like Dunn did two batters before, Willie Harris cranked one that hit off the top of the wall, but instead of going over it bounced back into play giving Harris a stand up triple. Adam Kennedy ended Volquez’s nightmare afternoon with an RBI single that bumped Washington’s lead to 6-0 at the end of three.
The Nationals next and final run came in the seventh came off a Roger Bernadina solo shot. It should be noted that all six of Bernadina’s home runs this season (and his career for that matter) have come on the road.
Livan was on cruise control all afternoon by throwing countless first pitch strikes and giving the Nationals quick and efficient innings. Hernandez threw 72 of his 102 pitches for strikes, walked none, struck out five, and gave up seven harmless hits…all of them singles. This outing gave Washington’s bullpen much needed rest after putting in a big workload the day before.