With two on and two out and the Washington Nationals trailing 5-2 in the seventh inning of last night’s series opener in Atlanta, Yadiel Hernández stepped in against Braves’ left-hander Tyler Matzek, and hit a 95 MPH first-pitch fastball out to left field for game-tying, three-run, opposite field home run, his eighth of the season, and the seventh opposite field shot for the left-handed hitting slugger.
Hernández went 1 for 3 with a double off Braves’ starter Max Fried, another lefty, before he hit the home run off Matzek, and he finished the night 18 for 56 (.321/.377/.625) against left-handed pitchers this season (versus a .262/.321/.376 line against righties).
What’s behind Hernández’s success against left-handed pitchers?
“To be honest, I’ve never had an issue against left-handers,” Hernández told reporters in a post game Zoom call after what ended up an 8-5 loss.
“I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I stay back well and wait for the pitch to get real deep into me. I see it very well from both sides, so I really can’t tell you the exact reason why, but I just have always done well against left-handers.”
“He gets himself in position to hit every pitch,” manager Davey Martinez said, offering his own thoughts as to why Hernández has had success against lefties in his career, “and [he] stays behind the ball really well. And that’s really what he does well. He doesn’t try to do too much. He tries to drive the ball in the middle of the field, but he gets himself ready early, and like I said, he’s had some really good at bats for us all year. Drove some big runs in for us all year, and he’s just a good hitter.
“He’s hit in the minor leagues, throughout his career, and he knows how to put the ball in play.”
And the opposite field power?
“It basically has to do with the other sport I played,” Hernández said, though he didn’t say what sport, “... but ever since I picked up a bat and played baseball, for some reason, I’ve been able to hit with power the opposite way.”
Overall on the season, Hernández has a .279/.336/.447 line with seven doubles, eight HRs, 17 walks, and 47 Ks in 92 games and 217 plate appearances.
Hernández is hoping to make an impression over the final weeks of the 2021 campaign, and show the club what he has to offer when given an opportunity to play on a regular basis.
“I have my goals set to finish strong, and hopefully open some eyes and make sure that they know what I can do for next season,” Hernández said.
Is Hernández back in the lineup tonight, against Braves’ right-hander Touki Toussaint?