On a day to thank mom for everything she has done, the Washington Nationals attempted to give all the mothers of National Nation a present. Looking for the Nats' sixth series win of the season, Livan Hernandez took to the hill at Nationals Park against the ever troublesome Florida Marlins.
Through five starts, Hernandez has been one of the biggest surprises in all of baseball. He went into Sunday's action with a 4-1 record and an ERA of 1.06, good for second best in the National League.With a variety of arm angles and speed changes, Hernandez is keep batters off balance better than he has ever in his lengthy career.
Sunday was no different for Livan. In seven outstanding innings of work, Hernandez surrendered only five hits and one earned run; his only blemish coming on a hanging breaking ball in the sixth inning to Hanley Ramirez taken just over the right field wall for a home run.
With his mother in the crowd, Adam Dunn shined at the plate. Dunn knocked three hits including an RBI single to give the Nationals a 2-0 lead in the third inning.
The Nationals would hold this lead into the top of the eighth inning, calling on Tyler Clippard to bridge the gap to closer Matt Capps. So far this season, Clippard has racked up innings out of the bullpen at a pace that would make "everyday" Eddie Gordado proud.
Clippard got off to an inauspicious start, however, on Sunday. Coming on with a runner on first, Clippard quickly found the bases loaded after allowing a no out single and walk. With the go-ahead run standing on second base, Jorge Cantu stepped to the plate with a chance to change the game. Sending a high fly ball to left field, Cantu was able to tie the game with a sacrifice fly.
Clippard bore down and showed why he is an early candidate for National League reliever of the year with one out and runners on first and second. Striking out the dangerous Dan Uggla and retiring John Baker, Clippard shut the door on the Marlins in the eighth.
With one out and none on Josh Willingham turned on a hanger high in the zone, sending it into the visitors bullpen in the left center field power alley; putting the Nationals on top 3-2.
That's where things would remain as Matt Capps came in and retired the Marlins one-two-three to pick up his National League-leading 13th save of the season.
With another series win under their belts, Washington is continuing to play strong fundamental baseball in early May. Though improbable, don't count the Nationals out as a contender for the NL East crown come September.