By the time Washington Nationals manager Dave Martinez marched to the pitcher’s mound in the seventh inning to pull starter Erick Fedde on Saturday, Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco was on second following a leadoff double.
Philadelphia manager Gabe Kapler didn’t hesitate to pull his starting pitcher Aaron Nola, who had allowed four hits through six innings, when Nola’s spot came to bat with one out in the seventh and Franco on third. Nola had thrown 83 pitches. But pinch hitter Jesmuel Valentín hit a sacrifice fly to shallow right field to give the Phillies a one-run lead, one they wouldn’t relinquish en route to a 5-3 win.
Fedde seemed to prove that “he can pitch here,” as Martinez said of the 25-year-old rookie before Saturday’s contest. He completed six innings for the first time this season. Fedde had thrown 97 pitches through six, tied for his season high with the Nationals. Right-hander Ryan Madson was ready in the bullpen, poised to relieve Fedde after a solid outing.
But Fedde returned for the seventh, set to face Franco, who was 2-for-2 against Fedde. Then, Franco became 3-for-3 against Fedde with a liner into left-center that got past Bryce Harper and bounced to the wall for a double, the fourth leadoff baserunner Fedde allowed.
“It’s time to stretch him out a little bit and he was dealing,” Martinez said. “He was going to keep going, but we get a guy on, you know, we had Madson ready.”
Phillies catcher Jorge Alfaro’s groundout advanced Franco to third, and Valentín’s sacrifice fly broke the deadlock established in the second inning. Adam Eaton’s throw from right field was good, but catcher Spencer Kieboom moved in front of the plate, too far to dive across to nab Franco sliding in.