Erick Fedde did a nice job of keeping the Nationals in the game Tuesday night, coming within one pitch of getting out of a major jam in the third. In the end, though, the Phillies beat the Nats 8-3. Fedde was saddled with his second loss in six appearances this season.
But in the third, with the game tied at 1-1 and two men on and two outs, Fedde had a shot to get out of the frame with just one more pitch. J.T. Realmuto drove that next pitch, a 93.7 mph four-seam fastball, to deep right field. The ball bounced off the top of the padding on the right field fence and then over for a dramatic three-run shot, just out of the reach of Adam Eaton. That put the Phillies ahead, 4-1.
"Off the bat I was like, 'OK, we are out of the inning,' and I think maybe even Realmuto thought that too," Fedde said in a postgame Zoom video call. I talked to the guys out in the bullpen, and they said the winds were swirling pretty good out there and just kind of carried out and tough play for anybody, just really unfortunate, but got to live with it."
Shortstop Trea Turner knew the ball was hit a ton. "I thought he hit it pretty good right off the bat," he said. "I thought it had a shot. I don't know if you can expect anyone to make that play, I would just rather had it bounce in than bounce over, obviously, maybe save a run or two. But he just put a good swing on the ball."
Fedde had enjoyed a pair of double plays to get through the first two innings before the Phillies connected on three hits in a row in the third. The right-hander blamed an inability to control his fastball as well as he would have liked as the start wore on.
"I think in the first couple of innings I had a lot better fastball command than I probably did there at the end," Fedde said. "So yeah, it started the way I liked and had a couple of double plays, which (are) my best friend."
"He pitched well, fell behind a couple of times, worked his way out of some jams with double plays," manager Davey Martinez said on his postgame Zoom video call. "When he's throwing ground balls, that's when I know he's pitching really well. That one fly ball to Realmuto, that was the big one there. I thought he did well."
"That's probably my best pitch," Fedde said of his fastball. "It's one that has shown me a lot of success, and if I'm able to really use that to both sides of the plate it keeps me out of trouble. Today I really didn't have that glove-side command, and later in the innings just had to throw some more breaking balls, which it worked for the most part, other than the one big hit."
Turner on Fedde's best pitch being a little off as the start wore on: "The fastball command, it was a little iffy towards the end, but I felt like he was working with the cutter and the slider pretty well and still getting swings and misses and getting guys out. So he battled, and that's what you want to see from your starters. Just keep you in the ball game, and when he left the game it was 4-1, so that's right in there. I think he did a good job for us."
The Phillies then won the battle of the bullpens, as they outscored the Nats 4-2 after the one-hour ,12-minute rain delay, with all four insurance runs coming in the final three frames.
Fedde finished five innings, allowing four runs on seven hits with one walk and one strikeout. But he really thought he was going to pitch that sixth inning before the rain delay altered those plans and ended his night.
"Had a doubleheader recently and bullpen got used a ton yesterday," Fedde said. "I was trying to sprint back out there and get sixth inning in, try help out the guys. But unfortunately, I can never seem to have starts that are normal, so, here we are."
"The rain kind of got him," Martinez said. "He was going to go out for the sixth inning and pitch that inning. I thought he could make it one more inning, and the rain just got him. I thought he did really well."
Rain has been an uninvited guest when Fedde pitches this year, resulting in delays or postponed games on days he starts. He was supposed to start a game in Atlanta on Aug. 19, but it was moved to a doubleheader in early September because of a rainstorm in Georgia that night.
"It's unbelievable," Turner said of Fedde's luck on days he's expected to start. "We told him that he can't pitch on getaway days anymore because we will never leave. It's just one thing after another with him, but he's a gamer. He's the guy you want in those situations because he just let it roll off his back and he goes out there and still does his thing. He has a good attitude about it, but man, it's been kind of crazy all the stuff that's happened to him already this year."
Fedde was surprised to see the rain come down in the middle of his start this time, as his weather app assured him on Tuesday morning that it probably wouldn't.
"I definitely looked (yesterday) morning and it said it didn't look like there was rain, so of course I let my guard down and what do you know, (it) came up," Fedde said, smiling. "It's been kind of crazy, but I'm sick of being the rain man, so hopefully it goes away."
But with Stephen Strasburg undergoing hand surgery today in Baltimore and out for the season, Fedde is now assured a regular routine. Barring Mother Nature's plans, of course.
"I can get my nice five-day routine, really start to grind and try put together (a normal schedule)," Fedde said. "The season (for me) probably has another six or seven starts, and try to get us a chance to win every time. It's going to be one of those things where I get back to the starting routine I know, and really just get after it."