In the first inning of the Washington Nationals' May 4th game against the Philadelphia Phillies and right-hander Roberto Hernandez in Citizens Bank Park, the Nats ran their way out of a potential two on, one out opportunity when bench bat Kevin Frandsen, who took a one-out walk, tried to take an extra base on a Jayson Werth single and was thrown out at third base.
Adam LaRoche walked in the next at bat to give Anthony Rendon a two-out RBI opportunity, but the Nationals' then-23-year-old infielder grounded out to end the inning.
The Nationals' leadoff hitter reached in each of the next two innings, but both runners were stranded.
Hernandez went on to retire 12 of the next 13 Nats' batters he faced before the Nationals threatened in the eighth and knocked the Phillies' starter out.
The veteran right-hander handed a 1-0 lead to the Philly bullpen and they stranded the tying run at third in the eighth, making the one-run lead hold up when Rendon struck out with Denard Span 90 ft from home, and then closed it out in the ninth.
"We had some opportunities with the guys that we wanted up there that have been coming through for us," Nats' skipper Matt Williams said after the game. "Today wasn't there day. But opportunities were out there."
Hernandez threw 7 ⅓ scoreless that day.
After tonight's outing in the nation's capital, the 33-year-old, nine-year veteran has allowed just one unearned run in 15 ⅓ IP against the Nationals this season.
The Nationals scored a run in the bottom of the second inning tonight when Adam LaRoche reached on an infield pop the Phillies let drop and took two bases on a throwing error by Cody Asche on the play.
An RBI single by Ian Desmond drove LaRoche in, and tied things up at 1-1, but that's all the Nats could get off Hernandez.
Bryce Harper singled in the next at bat to put runners on the corners, but debuting Nat Asdrubal Cabrera lined into a double play at first, Hernandez walked Wilson Ramos and retired the opposing pitcher to end the threat.
The game remained tied until the sixth when Nationals' starter Doug Fister gave up a solo home run to right by Marlon Byrd.
Fister, who gave up a run in the top of the second on an RBI line drive to right by Cody Asche, allowed just two runs on six hits in seven innings of work, but was outdueled by Hernandez.
"I think [Fister] pitched really well with the exception of the homer," Matt Williams said tonight, after what ended up being a 2-1 loss to the Phillies. "Marlon hit a ball the other way out of the ballpark. I mean, it's late in the game like that, certainly up in his pitch count he's not going to get beat to his pull side, certainly, and good job of hitting."
"I didn't quite make a pitch to Byrd and I got a little wild in the second inning, whatever it was," Fister told reporters after he suffered his first loss of the season at home.
"I got a little wild and they executed, I didn't. I've got to be better than that and that's what it comes down to."
The Phillies' second inning rally started with a two-out double to the warning track in left by Grady Sizemore that Bryce Harper came close to catching but missed. Carlos Ruiz walked on four pitches in the next at bat and Cody Asche lined a 2-0 pitch to right field to drive in the first run of the game.
"In that particular inning he felt like he was missing high," Williams said of Fister's second inning issues.
"He wasn't staying back enough, but he knows how to pitch, so once he got out of that inning he was able to make it in between innings and go about his business. I think he pitched really well again, we just couldn't muster tonight."
"It was a matter of me floating too far forward and not staying back and making the pitch," Fister explained when asked about leaving some pitches up in the second inning.
"I was trying to get too quick and just a matter of executing. I've got to get that ball down and make my pitches when I need to."
The home run by Byrd which ended up being the game-winner, came on an 0-1 fastball.
"I left it over the plate a little bit too much," Fister said.
"I was kind of surprised he took it the other way, but it's definitely one of those pitches I need to make sure was in. I was trying to go off the plate, left it over the plate a little bit, that's what he does. He hits fastballs well, and it's one of those things, I've got to make sure that pitch is down and in."
"He was pounding me with fastballs in my first at bat, broke my bat, swung at a high one," Byrd said. "Second at bat, mixed it up a little bit, threw cutters, curveballs. So, my last at bat, he threw first-pitch cutter and I said, 'I've got to look in there and see what he's going to do. Three strikeouts today, but one good swing, and I made it count."
The Nationals barreled four or five balls up for line drive outs which were right at Phillies' defenders and hit a few hard grounders that were handled as well.
The Nats ended the night 1 for 6 with runners in scoring position and six men left on base in a one-run game.
"We wish we could steer it," Williams said of the well-struck balls that didn't fall in.
"I think Susan Sarandon said it, 'Hit'em where they ain't,'" Williams joked. "We didn't do a very good job of that tonight. It's like, what can you do? Once you hit it, you can't steer it, they just happened to be standing there. I don't know how many, eight or nine of them probably, so that's all you can do. They squared them up tonight, they just didn't find any holes."
"It is baseball," Fister said when reporters asked if it was just "one of those days."
"Those guys hit the ball hard. There were three or four at least that were right at guys. One right at the pitcher. Those balls are hit right on the screws, you can't really do a whole lot about those. That's frustrating that you hit a ball hard and it doesn't fall, but that's the way things roll and we've just got to come back tomorrow ready to play and ready to win."