Returning to the mound in the majors tonight for the first time since July 4th, Erick Fedde cruised through the first on just 14 pitches, but the Nationals’ 25-year-old starter ran into serious issues in the top of the second. Fedde gave up a solo home run by Marcell Ozuna and a bases-loaded RBI single by Matt Carpenter in what ended up being a 41-pitch frame that left him at 55 total after two with the St. Louis Cardinals up 4-0.
Fedde retired 10 of the last 11 batters he faced after Carpenter’s hit, leaving the game after five innings in which he gave up the four runs on four hits and two walks, while striking out seven.
Erick Fedde’s Line: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 7 Ks, 1 HR, 91 P, 54 S, 5/3 GO/FO.
After two months off working to return from right shoulder inflammation, and three rehab starts, the 2014 Nationals’ 1st Round pick showed some positive signs on the mound, but that second inning was a rough one.
“I told him, at one point, he threw, he had 50-something pitches, he threw 29 sliders,” Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez told reporters after what ended up an 11-8 loss. “Curveballs, sliders, and he came in between innings and I said, ‘You have to throw your fastball. You have to establish your fastball. You can’t keep throwing sliders, falling behind, that’s not who you are.’ And he went back out there and I think the next inning he threw like 9 or 11 pitches, something like that, fastballs, all fastballs. I said, ‘Yeah, use it. You’ve got a good one. Your ball sinks, cuts, just use your fastball and he went out there and did that and pitched well.”
The Nationals tied things up at 4-4 in the bottom of the fifth, but a half-inning later, Austen Williams, who made his MLB debut on Sunday afternoon with two scoreless, giving him a total of 70 IP between Double-A, Triple-A, and the majors in which he didn’t allow a homer, took over on the mound and gave up a solo home run to center on a 2-0 fastball by Marcell Ozuna.
An 0-2 fastball to Paul DeJong in the next at bat went out to right-center, and one out later, an 0-1 fastball to Patrick Wisdom sailed out left.
“His fastball was up,” Martinez said. “He’s got a good curveball/slider, he didn’t use it. I told Sevy that’s who he is, so he just threw his fastballs and it just went boom quick.”
“100% agree,” Williams told reporters. “I think my breaking ball was working good enough to have gone with that with the two strikes, but I was confident in the fastball and it turned out to not be the right decision.
“But I definitely should have probably thrown more breaking balls.”
Or thrown better fastballs?
“I mean the two-strike fastballs were just not good pitches,” Williams acknowledged. “And they made me pay for it. They just weren’t good pitches, that’s pretty much it.”
“That’s going to happen with these young guys, but they’re going to get an opportunity to pitch, so they’ve got to realize if they want to pitch here they’ve got to get outs,” Martinez added.
“But these are the things that we have to see. I can’t keep using the same guys every single day. These guys have to pitch. One day [Jimmy] Cordero’s good, and the next day you don’t — they’ve got to go out there and they’ve got to pitch. And they’re going to pitch.
“I told them I’ve got all the confidence in the world in them, but they’ve got to start making pitches. 0-2 homers? Can’t happen. That can’t happen. But they’ve got to start pitching. Keep us in the games. I told them all, ‘Hey, with our offense, we’re going to score points.’
“Every inning you guys come in is a closer inning. You’ve got to go in there like you’re going to close the game out, that’s how important these innings are.”
It was 7-4 after the top of the sixth, and the Nationals scored one in the home-half of the inning, 7-5, but the Cardinals blew it wide open with Sammy Solis on the hill in the ninth.
Matt Carpenter walked in a seven-pitch at bat, and Yairo Munoz singled on a bunt toward first that Ryan Zimmerman fielded, only to find no one at first when he turned to throw it there. Wilmer Difo was late getting over to cover. Two outs later, Solis hit DeJong, but got ahead of Yadier Molina, 0-2... before giving up a grand slam on a fastball up and in to the veteran catcher, who powered it out to left, 11-5.
“Thought the approach was good,” Solis said. “[Matt] Wieters came out before to talk it over, and we knew [Molina] was looking for a heater first pitch, so we went changeup, got him to foul it off, and we got ahead 0-2, with a hitter like him I didn’t want him to shoot me the other way which is kind of his approach as of late with lefties, so I went hard inside and actually hit my spot, I went back and looked at it and it was the pitch I wanted to make. As hard as it is, you’ve just got to tip the cap sometimes, and you know breaks are tough to come by right now, but you’ve just got to keep going, keep pitching.”
“For me it’s — there’s a couple of things and I’m going to talk to him tomorrow,” Martinez said when asked what he’s seen from Solis that could explain his struggles.
“I need to talk to him tomorrow, because he’s got good stuff, but he needs to start making some adjustments. But a lot of times he falls behind, his breaking ball’s just — he’s got a good fastball and when he throws his fastball over the plate, they swing and miss. Today, Yadi hit a ball that was almost over his head, and he shouldn’t have even been in that situation. Really. If you think about it. He’s out of the inning if Difo covers first base on the bunt. That’s — honestly, you look at it, that’s how it’s going. I sat there and I said, ‘Difo covers, inning over, here we go,’ so...”
So, will he talk to Difo too?
“I’ll talk to him tomorrow because he’s got to learn how to play the game, the whole game. He’s doing well, swinging the bat good, but he’s got to learn how to play the game.”
There’s going to be a lot of learning on the job over the next month, with the Nationals, who are not out of it, out of it, yet, but are pretty much out of it, try to see what they have in their young players while also remaining competitive. Martinez acknowledged there will be some mistakes.
“Of course. No. 1, I tell them, ‘Hey, don’t walk. Let’s not walk guys.’ Because that’s huge,” he said.
“When you walk the leadoff hitter, typically bad things happen. So, and I know, and like I said, Austen will be back out there because I want to see — he’s got good stuff and I want to see him pitch. You know, Cordero, all these guys, missing [Wander] Suero hurt us today, using [Matt] Grace all the time, these guys, they’ve done a lot for us, so I just want to be careful with these guys too, and like I said, some of these other guys have to go out and pitch.”