Nationals right-hander Livan Hernandez was one of the heroes in a 9-2 victory over the Braves at Turner Field on Tuesday night.
Hernandez lasted seven innings and allowed two runs on five hits. He also became the 12th pitcher in baseball history to throw 50,000 pitches in his career. That pitch — a curveball — came in the bottom of second inning, when he induced right-hander Jair Jurrjens to ground out to end the second inning.
Hernandez didn’t about know about reaching the milestone until Nationals clubhouse manager Mike Wallace informed him before the game.
“I thank God everyday for giving me a chance to throw all of my career. It’s nice,” Hernandez said. “It’s hard to stay healthy every five days. … I’m the type of guy that tries to take care of himself every fifth day. Sometimes, it’s hard to pitch when it’s hot or cold.
“Sometimes, the weather is bad. You have to see everything that happens around you. It’s not easy to throw 50,000 pitches. I told the young guys, when you get here, you try to stay here. You don’t try to stay here for a couple of years and go somewhere else. You want to stay in this level. It’s easy to make it, but it’s not easy to be consistent every five days.”
Hernandez is a free agent after this season and he made it known that he wants to stay with the Nationals. Knowing that the team plans to have a young rotation that includes Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann next year, Hernandez told general manager Mike Rizzo that he is willing to become a long reliever with the club. Hernandez wants to start working on his new role this offseason.
“Hopefully something good happens. I [hope to get a chance] and try to be a long reliever and see. I made the decision that day with [pitching coach Steve McCatty]. I told Cat the other day that I can do that. Let’s see what happens.
“I love to stay here. It’s not about the money because I know I can make more money. It’s about, I enjoy every day that I am here. I enjoy playing baseball here. It’s where you feel comfortable. I lived before with no money. This is where you feel good.”
Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman made it known that Hernandez is a unique individual who loves to play in Washington.
“He understands the game. He understands hitters He is not afraid to throw any pitch at any count,” Zimmerman said. “He never gives in. Those are the toughest pitchers to face because you really don’t know what they are going to throw you at anytime. Just his ability to keep the hitter guessing is what makes Livo such as success.
“He enjoys the people here. So it’s fun to play with him, it’s fun to play behind him. He is one of those guys where every fifth day, he is ready to go. He is going to do everything he can to help the team win.”
There were three ejections during the Nationals’ 6-4 loss to the Reds on Sunday.
Nationals manager Davey Johnson, bench coach Pat Corrales and Reds skipper Dusty Baker were all tossed from the game.
Johnson was ejected in the seventh inning. He thought Michael Morse was hit by a pitch. He spoke to home-plate umpire Sam Holbrook, who then had a meeting with the umpiring crew. They all agreed that Morse was not hit. Johnson argued, while third-base umpire Joe West threw Johnson out of the game.
Johnson said he did not use profanity to get tossed.
“Mr. West thought to get rid of me,” Johnson said. “That’s part of the game, I guess.”
Bench coach Pat Corrales then took over as manager and was also ejected by Holbrook in the ninth inning for arguing balls and strikes. Corrales simply told the umpire a certain pitch was high.
“I didn’t swear it at him or anything,” Corrales said.
Baker acknowledged that he cussed at the umpire. In the 12th inning, Drew Stubbs was caught trying to steal second base, but the replay showed that shortstop Ian Desmond did not make the tag on Stubbs.
“I said the magic word today, a couple of them,” Baker said about being ejected.
It looked like Desmond was going to be ejected in the sixth inning. After striking out looking to end the frame, Desmond was seen yelling at Holbrook for about 10 seconds, but Desmond remained in the game.
“A long game like that, it wears on the players and the umpires,” Desmond said. “I have a lot of respect for Sam back there. It was one of those heat of the moment things. That is very out of character for me to yell at the umpire. At the time, I cared. It was a little intense. You can’t leave it in the umpire’s hands.”
Shortstop Ian Desmond made an error that hurt the Nationals in a 5-0 loss to the Phillies on Saturday.
However, Sunday was a different story as his game-tying home run helped Washington in a 5-4 victory over Philadelphia.
With the Phillies leading, 4-3, in the ninth inning, Desmond came to the plate with two outs. On a 1-2 pitch from reliever Antonio Bastardo, Desmond hit the ball over the left-field wall for his fifth home run of the season. There was Desmond showing his emotions as he rounded first base and again as he reached the dugout.
“He made adjustments,” Bastardo said. “The pitch was supposed to be for a strike. It was a little bit up in the zone, in the middle. It was supposed to be in the inside corner.”
While running the bases, Desmond was the thinking about the error he made in Saturday’s contest. In the fourth inning, the Nationals had John Mayberry Jr. picked off, but Desmond couldn’t catch an easy throw from first baseman Michael Morse, which allowed Mayberry to reach second base. Mayberry would later score on a triple by Wilson Valdez.
“Last night was a hard-night sleep for me,” Desmond said. “I told myself to come out [on Sunday] and put that behind me. I touched first base put my hand up and I was like, ‘Yes.’ That’s how you come back. That’s why you don’t give up. That’s why you have to keep on trying.”
In the last couple of days, manager Davey Johnson has had one-on-one talks with Desmond. The skipper wanted to know what Desmond was thinking at the plate. Entering Sunday’s action against Philadelphia, Desmond was hitting .228.
“I talked to him one-on-one the last couple of days. I was trying to clear his mind a little bit,” Johnson said. “You know he tries to do so much. I was just trying to simplify it. He is a very aggressive player and sometimes he is just overly aggressive. You don’t want to take him away from that.
“But he’ll chase balls out of the strike zone and try to make something happen. That’s what young guys usually do. He has learned about himself. … He was overly aggressive his first year [on defense] and he settled down. He needs to take that same thing to the plate and he knows it.”
Right-hander Livan Hernandez did the unthinkable on Friday night during the Nationals’ 8-4 victory over the Phillies. He threw over 300 pitches and most of them didn’t come during game.
Before the game started, Hernandez threw 85 pitches in the bullpen. He then went on the mound and threw nine pitches against Philadelphia before the game was delayed for two hours and 22 minutes because of rain. During the delay, Hernandez went in the batting cage and threw close to 180 pitches.
After the game resumed, Hernandez went back on the mound and pitched four innings, allowing four runs on seven hits. He threw 59 pitches in the game. The four runs were scored in the third inning.
“The most important thing is that I feel good,” Hernandez said. “If I don’t feel good, I would go and tell Cat [pitching coach Steve McCatty] and [manager Davey] Johnson. During the [rain delay] I warmed up in the cage every 15 minutes and was ready for the game.
“It’s crazy, but I feel really good. I wanted to be there. Johnson talked to me after the four runs. The Phillies had a good plan after they had their first at-bat. They started hitting the slider. After that, Johnson told me, ‘That’s it. Your done.’ I said, “Let me go back. I feel really good. We talked and we have good communication. I said, ‘Hey, I’m not going to lie to you. I feel good and they gave me a chance.”
After Hernandez left the game, Washington’s relievers — Tom Gorzelanny, Sean Burnett and Todd Coffey — blanked Philadelphia the next five innings and allowed one hit.
“I see these guys do a great job for the bullpen. One hit. It’s great. Gorzelanny, Burnett and Coffey. It’s amazing,” Hernandez said.
Stan Kasten said on Thursday the Nationals did a great job by signing most of their top picks — such as third baseman Anthony Rendon and left-hander Matt Purke — from the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.
“Awesome, fantastic,” Kasten said about Washington’s success with this year’s draft. “It’s what you need to do. They are doing it. I’m so proud of [general manager] Mike Rizzo, [assistant general manager] Roy Clark and [scouting director] Kris Kline. They do a great job. It’s exactly what you need to do build a team. You have to do it year in, year out, which they are starting to do. When you do, good things will happen.
“The owners deserve a lot of credit for stepping up. It’s starts with your scouts. People leading that effort — like Mike — there is no group better than them. I think they showed it this year. The owners showed their support. It’s all good. It’s all really positive. They have the makings of a good team here, but even better, a good homegrown team. That’s the best kind of team of all.”
Kasten was at Nationals Park when the club introduced Purke to the media. Kasten found out that Purke wears No. 47 because of his baseball hero, left-hander Tom Glavine. Kasten has a close relationship with Glavine after working together for 16 years in the Braves organization. So Kasten took out his blackberry, called Glavine and had him talk to Purke.
“They talked today,” Kasten said. “It was fun for Tommy and fun for Matt, who was sky high after that. It was real easy to do. I said to Matt, ‘Here’s Tommy.’ And Tommy was happy to do it.”
Kasten was the Nationals’ president from 2006 until last year. Under his leadership, the Nationals started replenishing their farm system by drafting and signing players such as right-hander Stephen Strasburg and outfielder Bryce Harper.
Kasten declined to say why he was in the DC area.
Nationals right-hander Ryan Mattheus left Thursday’s 3-1 victory against the Reds because of shoulder tightness. He is listed as day to day.
Mattheus replaced right-hander Jordan Zimmermann in the sixth inning and was able to strike out Paul Janish to end the inning.
Mattheus tried coming out for the seventh, but was unable to warm up. He was taken out of the game and replaced by right-hander Henry Rodriguez.
Mattheus said the shoulder injury is not considered serious. Manager Davey Johnson said Mattheus hurt the shoulder lifting weights before the game.
“I found out later he was working out earlier and put up a little too much weight and was tight, but he said it was nothing to worry about,” Johnson said. “We’re not going to take that chance. I told him he needed to be honest in the future. He said, ‘I spent a year and a half pitching when I was hurt, and it cost me a year and a half.’ That was scary.”
Said Mattheus: “It’s normal. I don’t think it’s going to be anything that stops me. It was just a little tightness. I was doing a little extra stretching in the dugout between innings. A couple of the guys came up to me and asked, “Why are you stretching?” [A teammate] told [pitching coach] Steve McCatty and they did the right thing. They didn’t have time to sit down and ask me, ‘Hey, how are you feeling?’”
Mattheus has been a productive reliever for Nationals this season, going 2-2 with a 2.67 ERA in 28 games.