Washington Nationals 3-2 Over Florida Marlins, Another Livan Hernandez Gem.

Sunday's Top 5: 

5. "But the thing that a lot of people don't realize about [Adam Dunn] is he's a very good hitter too." - Ryan Zimmerman in an interview with Billy and Cal Ripken on Sirius/XM's Ripken Baseball. With the Nats up 1-0 in the third, Adam Dunn takes a 1-0 fastball on the outside corner and strokes it to left for a run-scoring single. 2-0 Nats. Hitting Coach Rick Eckstein, as you may have heard before is "Teh Geenyus!" Dunn disdains the shift!!! And he doubles through the shift in the fifth to chase the Marlins' starter Anibal Sanchez. 

4. Hanley Ramirez Strikes Again!! Livan Hernandez was rolling through the first 5.0 scoreless when Hanley Ramirez came up to bat in the Marlins' sixth. Hanley, who'd been held to 1 hit through the first two games of this series finally comes through with a HR to right and just over the out-of-town scoreboard to start the Marlins' sixth. 2-1 Nats. Livan's ERA is  finally above 1.00 at 1.07. Ramirez now 2 for 10 (after 3 AB's today) after he was 6 for 14 with 3 HR's and 7 RBI's in the last series with the Fish. 

3. PEACHES STEALS WINS!! Nats' skipper Jim Riggleman said in the post game press conference that he wanted left-hander Sean Burnett to face the first two batters in the seventh, Chris Coghlan and Wes Helms, after which he was planning to turn to Tyler Clippard against Hanley Ramirez, but Coghlan's third single to center today forced the Nationals to turn to Clippard earlier than planned...Press Conference FlashBack After The JUMP... 

Press Conference FlashBack After The JUMP... 

On Saturday afternoon, after Tyler Clippard was called upon in the seventh with Cameron Maybin on base as the result of a two-out walk by Nats' lefty Sean Burnett. Clippard surrendered what was, at the time, in the seventh, the go-ahead runs for the Marlins when Gaby Sanchez hit a two-run blast to score the first runs Clippard had allowed in 14.0 innings. Of course the Nats came back right afterwards and Clippard was able to "vulture" a win and record his 5th W (5-0). In the post game press conference with Nats' Skipper Jim Riggleman, MASNSports.com's Ben Goessling asked the following question: 

Ben Goessling: "Does [Clippard] seem like a different pitcher to you when he's starting an inning as opposed to coming in in the middle of one?"

Jim Riggleman: "I hadn't really thought about it too much, you know, we just gotta use him how we have to use him. I certainly wanted to wait until the eighth to use him, but I liked how Burnett was throwing. Sometimes left on left isn't that easy, he got [Bryan] Petersen out, and then you give four straight balls to [Cameron] Maybin, so I said, well, you know what I'm going to go ahead and make this move here, but certainly I would like to just minimize it, because if he goes in to the inning, if it's anything before the eighth he's going to pitch the next inning and that's what we're trying to get away from."

While it's understandable and probably a good idea to limit the amount of work Clippard's asked to do this early in the season, it's also advisable to play to his strenghts. The eighth today began with left-hander John Baker at bat, and Clippard's success against lefties is well-established, plus as Mr. Goessling hinted, and one of the FB regulars who goes by the handle RobBobS pointed out in Sunday's GameThread, you get a different Clippard depending on when he enters a game: 

"RobBobS Evidence: Clippard has a sparkly 6.33 K/BB ratio with the bases empty. That number drops to 1.13 with runners on. Now, it’s not a good thing that he has difficulty out of the stretch, but Riggleman should understand that split and play to his strengths."

Interesting, no? All the Nats have to do, as Riggleman's said several times recently, is figure out the 7th inning. Whether it's Doug Slaten who works the seventh, or the Nationals have to turn to "someone else" (ed. note - "With 'someone else' = Drew Storen"), it might be advisable to use Clippard in a way in which he's most likely to succeed. Then again, if Burnett had done his job...back to Sunday's game...

Clippard enters the game after Sean Burnett allows Coghlan's third single of the game and gives up a second-straight single to Wes Helms, then walks Hanley Ramirez to bring Jorge Cantu up with the bases loaded. Cantu's sac fly ties it and Clippard then settles in to retire the next two batters and end the Marlins' eighth...At which point we pause for a minute and say... 

2. STOP!! HAMMER TIME!!! After Adam Dunn K'd swinging to start the Nationals' eighth, Josh Willingham gets a 1-1 change after an 0-1 change, and the HAMMER demolishes it, straight left and into the opposing team's bullpen. 3-2 NATS!! Hammer's 6th HR of the year sets Clippard up to win his 6th game (see no.3 PEACHES STEALS WINS). Matt Capps comes on for the second straight day and converts his 13th save in 13 opportunities. Nationals win, 3-2 final. 

1. Livan 1.04!!!: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K's, 1 HR, 110 pitches, 75 strikes, 12 groundouts, 6 flyouts. What else can you say about Livan Hernandez? Added late in Spring Training and asked to battle for a spot, Livan Hernandez holds the Marlins scoreless through 5.0 and gives up just the one run. Mr. National Himself has somehow ended up the Nats' ace, and with John Lannan and Jason Marquis both questionable for the near-future, Hernandez has been invaluable.

Game Note: from the Nationals' post game summary: 

"RARE COMPANY: Tyler Clippard is the 7th pitcher in the modern era (1900-present) to record as many as 6 relief wins in his club's initial 31 games...Clippard's 6 relief wins are tops in MLB this season."

• Miss The Game? The DC Faithful Were Watching...

• Nationals win, 3-2 final. 

Nationals now 17-14. 

FULL GAME REPORT: 

1 - Washington Nationals' right-hander Livan Hernandez starts Florida's leadoff man Chris Coghlan with a ball outside and eventually gives up a line drive single to center after a nine-pitch AB. Wes Helms pops out foul of first, one down for Hanley Ramirez. Ramirez flies out to left. Jorge Cantu flies out to right, Livan through a scoreless first with the Nats coming up...Anibal Sanchez takes the mound for the Marlins. Nyjer Morgan walks to start the Nats' first, and goes first to third on an Adam Kennedy fly ball single that drops in right in front of Bryan Petersen. Ryan Zimmerman grounds to short, Morgan scores, Hanley Ramirez to Dan Uggla, double play, 1-0 Nats. Adam Dunn beats the shift with a single through second. Josh Willingham "Even Flows" up to the plate and takes the second walk of the inning. Pudge Rodriguez grounds to third, Wes Helms steps on the bag. 

2 - Dan Uggla pops out on the first pitch he sees from Livan in the second, one pitch, one out. John Baker takes one then grounds out to short, Ian Desmond with the throw. Cody Ross takes a two-out walk, but Bryan Petersen grounds to short to end the Marlins' second...Roger Bernadina down swinging at a two-strike cutter on the third pitch of his first AB. Ian Desmond rolls a slow grounder toward third that hits a rock or some uneven dirt and rolls back in fair and over the bag. Anibal Sanchez tags Livan out on the bunt, saving him from running. Nyjer Morgan almost K's but has the swinging strike overruled by the third base ump, so he lines to second instead. 1-0 Nats after two. 

3 - Livan gets a groundout to short from the opposing pitcher, Desmond fires a strike to first. Chris Coghlan lines to center for his second single off Livan. Wes Helms grounds into a force at second, but Kennedy's throw to first pulls Dunn off the bag. Hanley Ramirez pops it up, Adam Kennedy makes the grab on the outfield grass...Adam Kennedy walks in a 9-pitch AB and takes second base on a wild pitch by Sanchez. Zimmerman K's chasing a two-strike bender. Adam Dunn lines to left, and it drops in, Kennedy scores from second. 2-0 Nats. Josh Willingham K's looking for the second out. Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez K's swinging to end the third. 

4 - Jorge Cantu singles to center in front of Nyjer Morgan who gets a bad read. Dan Uggla grounds into a force at second but beats the DP throw to first. John Baker grounds to the mound and Livan cuts down the lead runner. Two down. Cody Ross singles Baker over to second, but Livan gets a groundout from Bryan Petersen to second to end the Marlins' fourth...Roger Bernadina lays down a bunt but Wes Helms charges in and makes the play. Ian Desmond grounds to short, deep in the hole and beats Hanley Ramirez's throw to first. Livan Hernandez moves Desmond up with a sac bunt to the pitcher. Nyjer Morgan gets hit to put two on for Adam Kennedy who flies to center to end the fourth.

5 - Livan fields a grounder from the opposing pitcher and throws to first, in time. One down. Chris Coghlan grounds back to the mound off Livan's glove to Desmond, who makes the throw to first, in time!!! Two down. Wes Helms K's looking and Livan's through 5.0...Ryan Zimmerman strokes a low liner to short that Hanley Ramirez handles. Adam Dunn rips a grounder through the shift under a diving Dan Uggla. Josh Willingham walks to put two on for Pudge. Anibal Sanchez is done. Chris Leroux on in relief. Pudge Rodriguez grounds into the DP on the first pitch from Leroux. 

6 - Hanley Ramirez deeeeep to right on a 1-1 pitch and just out. 2-1 Nats. Livan gets a grounder to second from Cantu. One down. Dan Uggla grounds to third, Zim's throw is off target, but Dunn comes off the bag and makes the tag. John Baker K's staring to end the Marlins' sixth...Roger Bernadina strokes a single to right to start the home-half of the frame. Ian Desmond grounds to second, Uggla tosses to Hanley, throw to first, two down. Livan Hernandez flies out to center to end the sixth. 

7 - Cody Ross grounds back to Livan, who fields and throw to first, one down in the seventh. Bryan Petersen flies out to center, two down. Pinch hitter Cameron Maybin down swinging to end the Marlins' seventh!!!....Nyjer Morgan leads off the Nats' seventh against Marlins' righty Clay Hensley. Morgan and then Adam Kennedy K and have to run it out. Two down quickly. Ryan Zimmerman up. A fly ball to right ends the seventh. 

8 - Sean Burnett comes out to face the leadoff lefty, Chris Coghlan, who singles to center for the third time today and chases the Nats' left-hander in favor of Tyler Clippard. Wes Helms pushes a single to right after battling back from 0-2. Hanley Ramirez walks to load the bases with no one out. Jorge Cantu flies out to left, Coghlan tags and scores, 2-2 game in the eighth. Clippard throws a 3-2 fastball by Dan Uggla for the swinging K. Two down. John Baker grounds to second, Kennedy makes the throw....Adam Dunn K's swinging to start the eighth. Clay Hensley throws a Willingham a 1-1 change and Hammer CRUSHES IT!! Deep to left and GONE!! 3-2 Nats!! Pudge Rodriguez flies to center. Roger Bernadina drops a swinging bunt toward third, and reaches safely when it dies in the grass. Ian Desmond, Bernadina swipes second, Desmond K's swinging. 

9 - Matt Capps vs Cody Ross. Ross flies to left. One. Bryan Petersen flies out to center!! TWO!!! Gaby Sanchez grounds to second, Adam Kennedy throws him out. Nats win, 3-2 final. 

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