The Nationals may have come into the tonight's game 21-21 and ostensibly competing in their division, but at the end of the day they still play in the National League. And in the National League, David Hernandez takes no-hitters into the 5th inning and Adam Jones hits home runs. In the National League, Cesar Izturis takes two walks (one intentional, even!) in a game and Craig Tatum is clutch.
On 11 August 2009, David Hernandez gave up 2 runs in 6.2 innings against the Oakland A's and got the decision as the Orioles won 3-2. He'd go on to make 9 more starts in the season in which he'd go 0-6 and the Orioles would go 0-9. This year, despite a number of respectable outings, Hernandez came into tonight's game 0-5 in 7 starts (the Orioles did manage to win his two no-decisions). So that's 0-11 in his last 16 starts. After tonight? Make that 1-11 in his last 17. Victory!
Something else Hernandez got tonight that he hadn't seen much of this season? Run support. In his 5 losses the Orioles have scored two or less runs in four of them. They only managed more than that in the game that Hernandez got knocked around by the Yankees. But tonight the O's had given him 4 runs by the end of the third inning.
Luke Scott led off the 2nd inning with a single, his 21st hit in his last 14 games. Right now it's not surprising to see Luke Scott get a hit, but what happened after? A bit of a shocker. Adam Jones swung at the first pitch he saw but for once he actually hit it. And he hit it far, homering into the center field stands. It was Adam's first home run since April 24th and it gave the O's a 2-0 lead.
Scott Olsen retired Ty Wigginton and Nick Markakis to start the 3rd inning, but the O's decided to stage a little two out rally. Miguel Tejada reached on an infield single, then Scott and Jones walked to load the bases. That brought up Craig Tatum, making just his 8th start of the year. Not exactly the guy I'd choose to have up in the situation, but the Tater Tot came through with a 2 run single. Olsen then walked Izturis to re-load the bases, and young David Hernandez lined a pitch right back up the middle that Olsen unfortunately snared with his glove to end the inning.
The O's wouldn't score again until the 8th inning when Corey Patterson singled in Tatum, who had reached on a walk. That Tatum was just everywhere tonight.
Hernandez pitched 5.1 innings tonight and only allowed one hit, which was hysterically to relief pitcher Miguel Batista, his first since 2006. Unfortunately his control was pretty bad despite the Nats inability to hit him as he issued 5 walks, driving up his pitch count so that he couldn't make it through the sixth inning. He left the game with two runners on base (both via walk, naturally), giving way to Matt Albers. Albers was not good. He walked Josh Willingham to load the bases and allowed one of Hernandez's runners to score on a ground out by Ivan Rodriguez.
Albers came back out for the 7th inning and wasn't any better. After a pinch hit double by Nyjer Morgan, Albers gave Willie Harris a nice fat pitch up in the zone that he hit out of the park, cutting the Orioles lead to one. He then walked Ryan Zimmerman and that was about enough for Matt Albers. Dave Trembley made a call to the bullpen for...wait for it...Will Ohman. It was Ohman's AL leading 23rd appearance. He of course got the job done, retiring Adam Dunn to end the inning.
Cla Meredith pitched the 8th and Alfredo Simon came in to get the save in the 9th. He is the closer, after all. The good news is that in the National League, Simon doesn't walk guys. Just a harmless single by Cristian Guzman but otherwise no trouble.
O's win, 5-3. The teams play again tomorrow at 4:05. I guess maybe the Fox contract rules don't apply this weekend, because the game is on MASN, and will feature Brad Bergesen vs. Craig Stammen.
Injury notes: Matt Wieters missed tonight's game due to a bruised knee but is expected to play tomorrow. Adam Jones left the game after the 4th inning with a cramp in his right leg, but he's also penciled in to play tomorrow. Koji Uehara was unavailable for the game after his 30 pitch outing in Texas, but he claims it was the pitch count and not the heat that got to him. No word on if he'll be ready tomorrow.