Flande flexes bat vs. Max, notches key RBI
Rockies starter gets 2 hits off Scherzer, goes 7 strong to earn win
DENVER -- Hitting against Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer isn't easy. But no one told left-handed pitcher Yohan Flande, whose two hits helped key a 3-2 Rockies victory at Coors Field on Thursday night.
Keep in mind, this was not Mike Hampton, who hit .344 in 2002, a year after he had 23 hits. Before his soft single in the fifth on Thursday, Flande had two hits in 31 career plate appearances. Swinging or running, Flande is more heartfelt than effective.
But Flande can say he has three career hits off Scherzer, including a bunt single in Washington on Aug. 9. That makes him 3-for-5, or .600. So right fielder Carlos Gonzalez can joke if he wants. But he may be going to Flande -- who, by the way, held the Nats to two runs on three hits in seven innings -- for advice.
"He took some funny, great at-bats," Gonzalez said, laughing. "When that guy's hitting, we're all laughing in the dugout. But at the same time we were kind of disappointed, because he got two hits off Max Scherzer and we're all 0-for-1, 0-for-2. It's great to see that."
The second hit was big in multiple ways.
With the Rockies up, 1-0, and Matt McBride at third after he had singled to lead off the bottom of the sixth and advanced on two groundouts, Rockies manager Walt Weiss let Flande bat because "he had a two-hit shutout and I wanted to stay with him."
Then Flande chopped a pitch past Scherzer into no-man's land between Nats third baseman Yunel Escobar and shortstop Ian Desmond to drive in McBride.
With Gonzalez interpreting, Flande said, "Scherzer was throwing the ball really hard" and he "just wanted to put the ball in play." Flande relied on "confidence that he could get to first base," Gonzalez relayed.
After striking out five and fashioning his third career quality start (six or more innings, three or fewer earned runs) and first this season, the Rockies and Flande are happy to laugh together about his offense.
Flande (3-1) has unexpectedly made himself an option as the Rockies, last in the National League West, try to set up the future rotation.
Flande, 29, didn't make the Majors until being called up by the Rockies last season -- after a lengthy apprenticeship with the Phillies and Braves organization. He didn't earn his first Major League win until July 28, against the Cubs. This season, he began at Double-A New Britain.
Since his first callup in May he has bounced between the Rockies and Triple-A Albuquerque, and between the Major League rotation and bullpen. Thursday was just his fifth start in 13 appearances.
Flande, through Gonzalez, said he "believed … and worked, just to make it to the big leagues," and is happy to "have another opportunity to make a difference."