PHILADELPHIA - Erick Fedde was well aware of the situation. He had started seven previous big league games and had yet to emerge with a win in any of them.
“I mean, it was a thought,” the rookie right-hander admitted. “Not something ever when I was out on the field. Maybe when I get back home. But it’s really nice to get that first one out of the way.”
Pitcher wins are a strange stat, and often they aren’t at all a reflection of a pitcher’s actual performance. But they do still mean something to the people involved, and so Fedde was thrilled Friday night to find two baseballs and an official lineup card waiting for him at his locker at Citizens Bank Park on the occasion of his long-awaited W.
That it came after a start that was not his best didn’t matter as much.
Staked to an 11-0 lead by his teammates, Fedde could have cruised to the victory over the Phillies with little effort. But he labored in the fourth and fifth innings, wound up giving up five runs on 64 pitches in those frames and never made it back to the mound for the sixth.
Nationals manager Davey Martinez let his young starter push his way through the fifth, though. Left-hander Matt Grace was warm in the bullpen for a while, but Martinez left Fedde in despite surrendering a double, two homers and a flyout to the warning track.
By the time the inning ended, Fedde’s pitch count had reached 115, a new career high.
“He kept us in the game,” Martinez said. “It’s the most pitches he’s thrown. He needed to eat the innings, because we wanted to save the bullpen. But he did well.”
Five starts in this season, Fedde now sports a 1-3 record, 6.00 ERA and 1.63 WHIP. To be fair, he has had to face the Yankees twice in a row and now the Phillies twice in a row, with the Padres the only other opponent to see him to date. As things stand, his next start will come July 4 against the Red Sox.
“He’s got to start working ahead in the counts a little bit more and throwing strike one,” Martinez said. “He’s young, and he’s got an unbelievable arm and he’s going to be really good.”
Getting major league win No. 1 out of the way might help, too.
“My stuff wasn’t great today, but days like those it’s really nice when your team puts up 17 runs,” Fedde said. “I’ll take that. Hopefully next time when the games are close, I can be the one to keep it close.”