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Erick Fedde on start vs Yankees; Yankee Stadium; in-game adjustments; opportunity in Nationals’ rotation

Erick Fedde gave up four runs in five innings, but the Nationals’ starter settled in and the Nats beat the Yankees, 5-4 in Yankee Stadium...

MLB: Washington Nationals at New York Yankees Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Called up to make his 2018 debut back on May 23rd, Erick Fedde held the San Diego Padres to a run on four hits through five innings, before a single, walk, and two-out, two-run double ended his outing in what ended up a 3-1 loss.

“He wasn’t afraid of anybody tonight,” Davey Martinez said after the 2014 1st Round pick’s 2018 debut.

“He pounded the strike zone, had a good fastball, a good two-seamer, changeup was good, slider or curveball was good. He did well, really did. Kept us in the ballgame and did well.”

“My stuff felt really good,” Fedde said that day. “This is by far the most comfortable I’ve felt. This is definitely the start I was looking for, just not the finish.”

The outing, Fedde said, was definitely a confidence boost.

“It’s huge,” he explained. “After this outing I feel like I can definitely compete at this level. It was nice, because I said last year, I didn’t have too many great outings, and this one was big just in the sense of just overall confidence.”

Washington Nationals v New York Yankees Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The Nationals’ 25-year-old prospect returned to Triple-A Syracuse after that outing, giving up 24 hits and 10 runs in 15 13 IP (4.92 ERA) in 56 13 IP before he was called back up to go against the New York Yankees Wednesday night in the series finale in Yankee Stadium.

Martinez said he was confident that Fedde would handle the pressure of starting against a loaded Yankees’ lineup.

“Fedde’s a gamer,“ he said. “So you know, I don’t know if you recall, last time we called him up his flight got canceled so he had to drive and he pitched the way he did, so we got him here early, so hopefully he got enough rest.”

Martinez also decided to go with Spencer Kieboom behind the plate again, like he did when Fedde faced the Padres, since the catcher and starter had history in the minor leagues.

“I know he’s caught Fedde quite a bit,“ Martinez said, “so he’s out there to catch Fedde and hopefully get Fedde through the game.”

“I’ve caught Fedde through the last two years really,“ Kieboom said before the game.

“I felt like he had a great outing last time when he came up and made that spot start.

“He’s got great stuff and he has an idea of what he’s doing on the mound as well, and I’m excited for what he does tonight.”

Kieboom said he thought Fedde would handle the pressure of pitching in New York and in Yankee Stadium, well.

“He’s going to be fine,” the catcher said. ”I ain’t worried about Fedde. He knows what he’s doing, he knows how to trust himself and he does a great job.”

Given a 1-0 lead to work with before he took the mound, Fedde quickly gave it up with Brett Gardner singling up the middle, stealing second base, taking third on an error on the throw to second by Kieboom, and scoring on a sac fly to center by Aaron Judge, 1-1.

Greg Byrd hit a 1-1 slider up in the zone and over the middle out to right field in the second to put the Yankees up 2-1, and they went up 3-1 in the third when Aaron Judge pounded a double into the left field fence and scored from third base on a Giancarlo Stanton chopper to the left side of the infield that got by Anthony Rendon.

It was 4-3 Nationals after the top of the fourth, however, following Juan Soto’s three-run bomb to left field, and Fedde responded with a quick, 12-pitch, 1-2-3 frame when he got another lead to work with, but Gleyber Torres tied it up with a solo shot to left on an 0-1 sinker up in the zone from the Nats’ starter in the fifth, hitting his 12th HR of 2018, 4-4.

That was it for Fedde in what ended up a 5-4 win for the Nationals when Soto’s second home run of the game put the visiting team back on top in the seventh.

Erick Fedde’s Line: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 3 Ks, 2 HRs, 87 P, 55 S, 9/2 GO/FO.

“He was good,“ Martinez said after the win. “He kept us in the game. The biggest thing for him, the first inning was the first inning, he was excited, Yankee Stadium, I get it, he was working fast, and then he settled down a little bit, but for me, like I tell all the pitchers, you’ve got to get ahead of the hitters, it’s different here when you fall behind hitters 2-1, 3-1, 2-0, you’ve got to work ahead but his stuff is good.”

“Honestly, all day I was kind of behind hitters,“ Fedde said. “But I don’t even know what to say — I think I went 3-0 probably like four or five guys. Maybe I was trying to be too careful, giving guys too much credit. It’s tough to hit, so just having to work behind all day kind of sucks. You know, the bright lights, it is what it is, but it’s still the same game.”

“Tried to just pretend like it’s any other day,” Fedde explained, “... whether it’s Triple-A, big leagues, whatever, Yankee Stadium is pretty special.

“Earlier in the day, got here, checked it out, and then after that just try to pretend like it’s an everyday start.”

As for what adjustments he can make? Fedde said he felt like he started to make them as the start went on, saying some of it may have been mechanical.

“Maybe a little bit mechanically, but I thought a lot today — maybe just trying to be too perfect, if you’re aiming for a tiny dot rather than like thirds of the plate, and the last two innings I tried to make that adjustment and I think it worked a little better.”

Will he get another turn in the rotation while both Stephen Strasburg and Jeremy Hellickson are on the Disabled List? Martinez said he’d address the situations when the time comes.

Fedde said he was just hoping to make the most of the opportunity.

“It’s unfortunate that guys are down, best wishes to Stras and Hellickson, but if I can take advantage of my opportunities, I’m for sure going to.”