Going into last night’s game, Atlanta Braves’ first baseman Freddie Freeman provided some bulletin board fodder for Washington Nationals’ starter Erick Fedde, if Fedde needed some extra motivation, telling reporters, as quoted by David O’Brien of The Athletic that his team caught a break with Max Scherzer unable to go, and they needed to take advantage of it in the second game of three in D.C. after dropping the series opener.
“Tonight when you don’t face Scherzer; you’ve got to take advantage of it,” Freeman said, as quoted on Twitter.
“You have to ... those are little victories and you have to capitalize on them. So tonight has to be a win. Has to be.”
Scherzer ended up on the Injured List for the second time this season earlier this week with a mild strain of the rhomboid muscle after he missed three weeks with what was diagnosed as scapulothoracic bursitis, so the Nationals turned to their 26-year-old, 2014 1st Round pick in the matchup with their NL East rivals and current division leaders.
Fedde fell behind early when the Braves scored a run on a passed ball with two runners on in the second. Ender Inciarte, who’d singled with one down, stolen second, and moved up on a sac bunt, then scored ahead of an underhand toss to the plate from Nats’ catcher Yan Gomes to the covering pitcher to make it 1-0 early.
Freddie Freeman singled to drive Ozzie Albies in after a leadoff double in the third, and then stole second and scored on an RBI single by Brian McCann, 3-0.
Two more runs scored on a double to right by Inciarte to make it 5-0 Braves after two and a half in Nationals Park.
A one-out double and a walk in the Braves’ half of the fourth set Josh Donaldson up with an RBI opportunity he cashed in with a three-run blast to left that made it 8-0 Braves, and one out later, Adam Duvall hit a three-run blast to left to end Fedde’s night with the score 9-0...
Erick Fedde’s Line: 3.2 IP, 9 H, 9 R, 9 ER, 4 BB, 4 Ks, 2 HRs, 93 P, 55 S, 7/0 GO/FO.
Fedde talked after what ended up an 11-8 loss about being disappointed with his own brief performance on the mound.
“It’s never fun to let your team down,” Fedde said. “It’s just one of those ones where I look at it like as just don’t let it happen again. Go to the drawing board tomorrow and really look at where I struggled, but for right now I’m just trying to get past it.”
What did he think went wrong?
“Probably just not pitching ahead,” Fedde said.
“Mostly getting into counts where guys were able to put swings on balls that were trying to do damage. Nothing really went my way today.”
Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez talked about that particular issue, falling behind hitters even when he starts off ahead in the count, when he discussed what Fedde needed to do to have success before the start against the Braves.
“What I saw [in] his last outing is he was ahead a lot, 0-2, 1-2, and then fell back, he goes to 2-2, 3-2 a lot,” Martinez said, “so what I’d like for him — and we talked about this — is finishing guys off in four pitches or less, I mean, that should be, not nitpick. He gets to two strikes, as a hitter when you get to two strikes you have to start thinking about a lot of different options, so you don’t have to try to get the guy to swing at pitches this far outside, just go ahead and attack the hitter, and don’t look for a strike, but if he puts the ball in play with two strikes it might not be hard, so let your defense play, and try to get outs in four pitches or less.”
Martinez reiterated his take on the cause of Fedde’s issues after last night’s game.
“You can’t fall behind hitters,” the second-year skipper explained, “and like we talked about earlier, even when he gets ahead, he goes back to 2-2, 3-2, and it’s tough to pitch that way, especially in the big leagues, it really is, so he just wasn’t very good today.”