There was a moment in the top of the fourth where I really thought it was all going to come crashing down for Roberto Hernandez. He’d survived through the first three innings, though not always smoothly, and then he walked Freddie Freeman, and he walked Justin Upton, and, after getting Chris Johnson to fly out, he’d thrown a wild pitch to allow the runners to advance. He fell behind 3-0 to Tommy La Stella, and although the Dodgers were already up 4-0 — Drew Butera, home run! — this seemed to be where the game was going to be decided. Hernandez’ issues have largely been about finding the plate, and all of a sudden, it looked like he’d completely forgotten how to do it.
Hernandez got La Stella to ground out, scoring a run. He got Andrelton Simmons to line out to third. It was hit hard, but right at Juan Uribe, so while there was a not-insignificant component of luck there, it worked. Hernandez turned what could have been a very bad situation into one that only scored one run, and that was all he’d allow over six innings, regularly switching jerseys due to the heat. You can’t possibly ask for more out of him than that. It’s only been two starts, of course. They’ve just been two shockingly good ones, all the more important now that Hyun-jin Ryu is hurting.
Of course, there was a lot more to this game than Hernandez. There was — wait, hang on. MAXIMUM PUIG:
Yasiel Puig added three hits, including an RBI single in the first inning, to that fun bit of center fieldery, as well as reaching in the eighth when Luis Avilan hit him in the leg. Dee Gordon also had three hits, including a fantastically-placed bunt single in the eighth, walked once, scored four times and stole two bases. This is the player we’d always hoped we’d see and regularly feared we never would. He has been unbelievably fantastic this year. Adrian Gonzalez and Butera had multiple hits as well.
But is anything ever easy? No. No it is not. Brandon League gave up a few hits in the seventh, but made it through unscathed. Brian Wilson — you know, the same guy who got a “no really, he’s pitching well” post here barely more than 24 hours ago — then made it certain that I’d never write anything nice about him again. Wilson allowed three straight hits (two of them doubles) to open up the inning, and although he came back to get Johnson and La Stella, Don Mattingly felt compelled to bring in Kenley Jansen with two out and Justin Upton on third to face Simmons, who promptly slapped a hit to left field to make it a one-run game. Jansen, bless him, struck out Evan Gattis to end the threat, then Gonzalez plated Gordon to add an insurance run. (Puig was thrown out by a mile at the plate, though it appeared third base coach Lorenzo Bundy did wave him in; Jansen actually hit for himself and struck out, but only after Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez actually made a pitching change, which is something you don’t see that often with a pitcher coming up.)
After all that, Jansen came out for the ninth and proceeded to terrify us all, not so much by what happened — he struck out out the side, after all, though around allowing an infield single and a hard-hit double to deep right — but that his velocity seemed to be in the 90-92 mph range more often than not. Maybe something, maybe nothing. He got the job done, anyway.
So! Enough Atlanta. Goodbye, Atlanta. Back home to Los Angeles to welcome the Brewers tomorrow.