New York Mets: Livan Hernandez and The Anatomy of a Complete Game

Andrew KahnCorrespondent IMay 27, 2009

NEW YORK - APRIL 03: Pitcher Livan Hernandez of the New York Mets pitches during an exhibition game against the Boston Red Sox on April 3, 2009 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The game marks the first time the Mets play in their new ballpark.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Perhaps the hardest part of Livan Hernandez's complete game was how easy he made it look.

He barely seemed to break a sweat, using an effortless motion and an array of crafty pitches to induce ground balls, strikeouts, and weak pop ups in the Mets 6-1 win over the Nationals last night.

His patented Bugs Bunny curveball was on full display at Citi Field, as he kept the Nats hitters off balance all night. All while blowing bubbles on the mound.

As he's been known to do over his long career, Hernandez allowed his share of baserunners—nine hits, a walk, and a hit batsman—but tightened up once the bases were occupied. It was as if he was allowing certain batters to reach base, only to erase them with a well-timed groundball double play (he had three of those).

Hernandez changed speeds so well, it allowed him to blow his mid-80's fastball past some of the Washington hitters. The Nats star, No. 3 hitter Ryan Zimmerman, had reached base in 43 straight games but went 0-for-4 against Hernandez, striking out twice.

The veteran right-hander was aided by solid defense throughout the game, including a run-preventing play in the fifth on a strong throw from center and a nice tag at the plate. The lone run Hernandez allowed was on an opposite field homer from slugger Adam Dunn.

It was the first time this season a Mets pitcher had pitched into the eighth inning, yet alone finished the ninth. Keep in mind this is a staff that includes Johan Santana. Not bad for a guy who wasn't even guaranteed a spot in the rotation during spring training.

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And speaking of Santana (who was the last Met before last night to pitch a complete game), he takes the hill tonight as New York goes for the sweep. He'll certainly have to be more economical than Hernandez was if he wants to go the distance, as Santana has never thrown as many pitches (127) as Hernandez did last night.

Either way, hard to believe the ace will be trying to match Hernandez's start.