Nats righty holds Braves scoreless in second start off the DL
By Jacob Emert
WASHINGTON -- Choosing which of Doug Fister's seven shutout innings from the Nationals' 7-0 win over the Braves on Thursday was best may seem like splitting hairs, but the right-hander was especially proud of one frame.
"I wanted to push myself today, and [manager Matt Williams] let me go back out there in the seventh," Fister said. "That's huge for me, is being able to go back out there and prove to teammates and prove to myself that I can go out there and finish an inning. I hadn't done that this year, so that was a positive note for me personally. It takes a lot of plays in the outfield, plays in the infield, guys turning double plays early on in the game to enable me to do that."
Fister was decent in his return from the disabled list last week, but he was unable to complete the sixth inning and took the loss. On Thursday, he was noticeably better.
With all pitch-count limitations removed, Fister used a well-placed sinker in conjunction with a sharp breaking ball to establish dominance early.
"[He] continued to be down in the zone, forcing contact," Williams said. "We pushed him to 110-ish, which was good. Got him through that last inning, too, which was good. I thought he pitched really well. He was in command out there, throwing it where he wanted to."
Fister scattered four hits, one walk and one hit batsman while striking out four. The fifth inning was the only one in which the Braves got multiple runners on base
"I felt good with it," Fister said about his curveball, which he threw frequently. "But I think the biggest reasons that we used it a lot was that we were down with the sinker and the changeup and that really kind of changed the eyes of the guys. Being able to throw a wrinkle in there sometimes is a good time. We found what was beneficial for us and utilized it as much as possible."
With one out in the fifth inning and runners on the corners, Fister induced a double play as the Nationals set a franchise record for consecutive scoreless innings by their starters. Two more clean frames in the sixth and seventh extended the streak to 41 1/3.
A stat that spans several days is too big of a picture for Fister, though. He was spotted six runs of support from his offense, which was all that mattered for the righty.
"I do not know the exact score, and honestly when I'm at my best, I have no idea what inning it is," Fister said. "I really try and stay simple. I want to do things one pitch at a time. If I get into anything bigger than that, then I'm in trouble myself."
Luckily for Fister, adding zero plus zero is as simple as it gets.
Jacob Emert is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.