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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Game 118: Hernandez shuts down Phillies (77-41)

The Phils returned home from their dominant road trip with an underwhelming performance Friday night. Livan Hernandez allowed zero earned runs over 6 2/3 innings, allowing the Nationals to cruise to a 4-2 victory.

Hernandez had two RBIs himself.

Cole Hamels was clearly not 100 percent. His fastball was consistently in the 86-89 MPH range, and he could not locate his changeup at all. The result was 5 innings pitched, 4 batters walked, and 3 runs allowed.

No complaints for the manager in this one, but I do want to point out the laziest play of the season so far:

With the score 3-1 in the top of the sixth inning, Ian Desmond knocked a double off Kyle Kendrick. Hernandez, who already had a hit on the night, was the next batter and hit a slow roller up the first base line. The ball started on the grass in fair territory and slowly rolled towards the foul line. The proper play for the first baseman is obvious, something you see little leaguers consistently execute: sprint to the ball as quickly as possible in order to pick it up before it goes foul. Then all you have to do is tag the runner or step on the base.

Howard, on the other hand, slowly jogged after the ball as if it were a foul ball the whole way. When he finally made his way to the baseball, it had barely crossed the foul line and the ball was ruled foul. No booing from stadium, no mention of it in the post-game interviews. At least when Rollins doesn't run out a pop-fly in in the infield, it's because he knows it's an out 9999 times out of 10,000. On this particular play, all Howard has to do is show moderate hustle and its an easy out.

This was Kyle Kendrick's first inning, and Hernandez got an RBI single on the very next pitch. Kendrick ended up allowing only one run over three innings of relief work.

The Phillies staged a rally in the ninth inning off closer Drew Storen. The game ended with Chase Utley on first base and the score at 4-2. If Howard had made the easy play and the score was 3-2 in this situation, Utley would have been much more likely to steal a base, and there's no way to know how the game would have ended.

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