SEATTLE - The guy on the mound had allowed more than three earned runs in a start just once all season. In that one outing, he had allowed four earned runs.
The guy on the mound had a 2.07 ERA. The guy on the mound had never given up four homers in an outing. The guy on the mound is considered an overwhelming favorite for the American League Cy Young.
And the guy on the mound got clobbered.
Baseball is a weird game, folks. You can get stymied by an underwhelming pitcher one night, then hit the ball all over the yard when facing one of the sport’s elite hurlers.
You can get swept by a last-place team and then dominate a playoff contending squad that’s throwing its ace.
Last night, the Nats gave Felix Hernandez his worst stat line of the season, crushing four homers off him and pushing across five runs on 10 hits over the righty’s seven innings of work.
Tens of thousands of Mariners fans showed up ready to watch King Felix deliver another gem. Instead, they got a rare clunker, and the Nationals snagged the opener of this three-game series.
“You can’t figure these things out sometimes,” said Jayson Werth, who hit one of the six homers off Hernandez. “Sometimes you get the best guys out there, and you see him good. And sometimes you got a guy that you run into that guys have been hitting good, and you don’t see him good. You can’t figure these things sometimes. He’s a great pitcher. Everybody knows that. We were just running good today.”
You almost never see outings like that from Hernandez, a model of consistency this season - and for the last handful of seasons, really.
There was a stretch earlier this year where Hernandez went 14 straight outings where he worked at least seven innings and allowed two runs or fewer. That’s three whole months of pure domination at the game’s highest level.
Last night, the Nats didn’t seem to care about any of that. They battled with two strikes and took what was given to them. And then, when Hernandez did make a mistake pitch, they punished it.
“I don’t think it was necessarily a matter of what he did,” Ian Desmond said. “(It was) more what we did. We brought a good approach to the plate today, and we were able to fight off some tough pitches. When he was making good pitches down in the zone, we forced him to get the ball up. We were able to make him pay.”
The win not only snapped the three-game losing steak that carried over from Philadelphia, but it kept the Nats’ division lead at six games. Two more games here await, with Stephen Strasburg and Tanner Roark set to take the hill.
Who knows what this sport has in store for us tonight?