Roberto Hernandez and the bullpen were two of the Phillies biggest question marks when the season started. However, Hernandez and Ryne Sandberg’s relievers were outstanding as the Phillies blanked the Washington Nationals 1-0, taking the three-game series.
“He was really good,” Ben Revere said. “Today was his day.”
Hernandez pitched seven and a third innings of shutout ball for the first time since April of 2011. It was uncertain how Hernandez would throw since he hadn’t started a game in ten days.
“That was no big deal for me,” Hernandez said. “I just wanted to do the best that I could.”
The much maligned bullpen, which blew the game Friday night against Washington when Mike Adams failed to hold the lead, came through. With a man on second during the eighth, which has been a troubling inning for the Phillies since 2012, Adams induced a harmless grounder off of Jayson Werth. After walking Adam LaRoche, Antonio Bastardo struck out Anthony Rendon, who is hitting a blazing .481 against lefties.
Jonathan Papelbon picked up the save after blowing away Zach Walters with a 93 mph fastball.
“This bullpen is better than what it’s shown so far this season,” Adams said. “We’re going to prove that. We’re going to help this team win games.”
The Phillies, who have five shutouts this season, are 15-14 and just a game and a half behind the Atlanta Braves in the NL East race.
“It’s a good position to be in,” Revere said. “I like where we’re at. We’re hanging tight and winning some tough games. We’re doing what we have to do.”
Jimmy Rollins did exactly that. With one out in the first Rollins hit what appeared to be a double off the left center field wall. The Nats’ Denard Span played the ball casually and was surprised to see Rollins was aiming for third base, which he reached.
Chase Utley followed with a single to drive in the lone run of the day. The Phillies made the most of their limited offense, just four hits, including a triple by Revere, who also made a nice running catch erasing a potential double.
“It’s all coming together,” Revere said. “We all played well.”
Particularly Hernandez, who finished strong by retiring 12 of the last 13 batters he faced.
“He came right after us,” LaRoche said. “He didn’t mess around. We kept hitting harmless grounders.”
The Phillies signed Hernandez because of his good sinker.
“He was really effective,” Ryne Sandberg said. “He was ahead in the count. You can’t ask for anything more.”