Roberto Hernandez’s arm enough to take series from Nationals


May 4, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Roberto Hernandez (27) works in the first inning against the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Phillies pushed their record to one game over .500 behind the unanticipated arm of Roberto Hernandez with a 1-0 victory over the Washington Nationals. With two off-day’s and one rain-out earlier this week, the Phillies rearranged their rotation so they would shot put their three best arms against the Nationals. Flu-like symptoms foiled skipper Ryne Sandberg’s plans as he had to scratch Cole Hamels from today’s start and reinsert Hernandez into the rotation.

Hernandez did not disappoint.

The 33-year-old right-hander pitched seven and one-third innings of shut-out ball. While he didn’t overly pound the strike zone and make the Nationals swing and miss, Hernandez was able to keep the ball in the park and the defense behind him converted the contact into outs. He registered three strikeouts and three walks allowed while conceding just four hits to Washington.

A one-out triple in the bottom of the first inning by Jimmy Rollins would set the Phillies up for the one run Hernandez would need to earn the victory. The next batter, Chase Utley, would poke the ball to shallow center for a single, allowing Rollins to cross home plate. That would be Utley’s lone hit of the afternoon. The Phillies second baseman is maintaining a .346 AVG that jibes with his .405 OBP.

The Phillies would only tally two more hits the rest of the game as Washington’s Gio Gonzalez held his own to no avail. In another quality outing where he didn’t earn the win, Gonzalez struck out seven while surrendering just two walks and four hits. The 28-year-old former Phillies prospect took the loss, falling to 3-2 with a 2.91 ERA.

The story of the game was the unexpected pitcher’s dual between Hernandez and Gonzalez. Earlier this week, many expected to see one between the latter and Hamels. Instead, Hernandez did his best Hamels imitation as he smoothly handled the Nationals lineup. After one-out appearances from Mike Adams and Antonio Bastardo, Jonathan Papelbon was called in to close out the game.  The Phillies closer would go on to earn his ninth save of the season.

Washington will take their 17-14 record into a three-game homestand versus the Los Angeles Dodgers beginning Monday. The Phillies remain home for the next two days to host the Toronto Blue Jays before heading off to Toronto for two games to complete the four-game series. The Phillies boast a 15-14 record heading into next week’s full slate of action.