In Spanish, the name Atilano means “conqueror,” in Hungarian it means, “father like.” Both were appropriate Wednesday as the rookie became the Cubs daddy as he earned his second win of the season in the second start of his career, helping the Nationals hang on to grind out the 3-2 victory in Wrigley this afternoon. The win helped Washington improve to 12-10 on the season and helped them claim the series two-games to one over Chicago.
Atilano allowed six hits over six innings while only allowin two earned runs but struggled at times with control, allowing three walks on the night and only throwing 58-of-91 pitches for strikes. His wildness got him into trouble at times as he walked a runner into scoring position in the bottom of the first (eventually allowing him to score) and walked two batters to help load the bases in the fifth. Atilano also allowed four-out-of-six leadoff batters reach base for the Cubs, a major baseball fundamental faux pas. However despite pitching into trouble, the rookie was able to pitch himself out of those situations giving up only two runs on what could have been major mistakes.
Rookie gaffs aside, Atilano was succesful by feeding the Cubs batters a steady diet of sinking fastballs. In total he threw 31 of his 91 pitches for sinkers, which helped him induce 12 ground balls on the night. He also kept the Cubs off balance with a change up he threw 29 times, 17 for strikes. While some may argue he got lucky by finding his way out of so many jams without outstanding stuff, Atilano did his best John Lannan impersonation on the mound today proving that sometimes a well placed fastball with good movement can get you out of just about anything.
At the plate the Nationals batters had to face a very good Ryan Dempster who allowed only four hits and three earned runs over eight innings of work. Dempster registered six strikeouts while only walking one batter but surrendered homers to Adam Kennedy in the first and Adam Dunn in the fourth. The 32-year-old righty commanded five pitches well, throwing a four seam fastball consistantly in the 90’s to go with a change up that averaged just above 81 MPH. His best pitch on the night however was his slider which he was able to throw for a strike 70% of the time while getting Nationals batters to whiff at it four times.
Outside of two solo home runs, the Nationals were able to manufacture a third run from two unusual suspects. Recently recalled Roger Bernadina hit a one out single in the second. After Ian Desmond hit him over to second base, Wil Nieves singled him home for the score.
Brian Bruney pitched himself into, and then out of a jam in the seventh. Tyler Clippard came on the eigth and 9th consecutive inning without a run, and Matt Capps came on to earn his major-league winning 10th save of the year.