After his previous start that yielded six runs and five walks to the Atlanta Braves in 5.1 innings, many thought that Washington Nationals rookie starter Luis Atilano may be starting to unravel.
He shut those detractors up last night, however, as he threw 5.1 shutout innings helping the Nats topple the New York Mets to improve to second place in the National League East.
Deception was the key to Atilano's success Monday night, as young right-hander improved to 3-0 by earning the win on his 25th birthday.
In his previous start against Atlanta, where he got chased out of the game in the fifth, Atilano only threw one changeup that made an opposing pitcher swing and miss. Monday he threw it five times for a swing and miss, while also adding two whiffs from his slider and one from his curveball.
His average pitch speed was slower than his previous start, registering around the mid-80s the entire game, but his stuff was clearly better as evidenced by the Mets only being able to muster five hits in five innings.
At the plate the Nationals were charged by back-to-back homers in the third inning from Adam Kennedy and David Wright which put the club up 2-0 in Queens. Ivan Rodriguez chimed in with four hits on the night, including an RBI single in the top of the eighth which proved to be the winning run as the Mets packed on a run in the seventh and a second run in the bottom of the ninth. All of Rodriguez's hits on the night were singles.