OAKLAND - The good news is that Doug Fister seemingly made it out of his first start back off the disabled list in good shape from a physical standpoint.
The not-so-good news is that Fister was hit around in his Nationals debut, and the Nats dropped an 8-0 ballgame to the Athletics in the opener of this three-game set.
Fister allowed seven runs (five earned) on nine hits over 4 1/3 innings. He struck out two, walked none and allowed three home runs, tying for the most homers he’s ever allowed in a single start.
Fister’s final rehab start came last Friday, meaning he worked today on six days rest, two more than normal. Manager Matt Williams said he thinks that factored heavily into Fister’s location issues tonight.
“It’s probably the extra days,” Williams said. “That’s just the way the whole rotation worked out. I think he felt strong, maybe a little too strong. It certainly didn’t help him behind him, but I think he was just a little strong today.”
Was there some first-start-as-a-National extra energy going on there, too?
“Maybe,” Williams said. “But he was on that every-five-days rotation, and there was a couple extra days in there. That could be the case. But he felt good, so that’s a positive for him.”
Fister threw two bullpens in between his final rehab start and tonight (normally, starters just throw one bullpen in between outings) in an attempt to stay fresh. But Williams said he thought Fister still was a bit too strong, leading to his pitches elevating and his sinker sitting at the top of the strike zone instead of at hitters’ knees and below.
“I think he’ll be much better next time out,” Williams said.
The Nats made three more errors tonight, leaving them with 29 errors committed on the season. Fister threw a ball away down the right field line in the first inning, Anthony Rendon had a throwing error and Scott Hairston dropped a fly ball in left.
“Everybody’s going to make errors, but you certainly don’t want to make multiple errors in a game, and today was a case we did that,” Williams said. “You’ve got to help yourself, and any team you’re playing, you give them extra outs, you’re looking for trouble. And we got that tonight. ...
“It’s what you ask for when you do that. Want to play clean baseball, certainly, and you’re asking for trouble if you give them extra outs. Any team can beat you, and they showed us tonight.”
Hairston has now dropped two fly balls in left in the last week. Williams was asked if he thought Hairston lost the one tonight in the lights.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I haven’t talked to him about it. But I will. I don’t think so, I think it was just a question of, you know, there’s some wind out there, hadn’t been out there much until recently. I don’t think it was anything to do with the lights.”
The Nats’ bats were shut down by A’s starter Tommy Milone, a former Nats prospect. The lefty threw eight scoreless innings, striking out seven.
“Fastball in,” Williams said, when asked what led to Milone’s success tonight. “The ability to throw the fastball in to right-handers for strikes is a key for any lefty. And he did that today. Put it where he wanted to. Didn’t throw a whole lot of curveballs. Threw some changeups. But he commanded with his fastball.”