Friday's start was certainly the measure of how far Ross Detwiler's career has advanced.
In the past, two runs, three hits and 23 pitches in the first inning would have been the beginning of the end.
In this game it was his sinker. It wasn't sinking. And that caused problems.
But Detwiler was able to diagnose that the Mets were realizing they could get hits off his sinker. Without the sink, it was a very hittable pitch. So he went to his fastball more than usual, and tried to cut the zone in half.
"I just kind of focused down in the zone," Detwiler said. "Pitches were up. Sinker wasn't sinking. They got good wood on the ball."
But after the first, Detwiler allowed just two doubles by Scott Hairston and Ruben Tejada from the second to the fifth frames.
In the sixth, he went out and tried the sinker again. This time, he got a different result.
"That sixth inning came around and my sinker started working a little bit better," Detwiler said. "I kind of missed the inside corner early in the game so I decided to stay away and they knew that. They knew I was missing. They kind of jumped on that. I think I got a little more fine with my pitches further down in the zone, easier to get a ground ball instead of letting them get under (them) like they did."
Even though Hairston managed three doubles, the rest of the Mets notched only two singles and the Tejada double off of the Nationals' southpaw. Now, Detwiler wants to study why Hairston was able to connect so consistently.
"I'm going to watch back and watch what I did to Hairston," Detwiler said. "I'm just guessing, the ball had to be up or something. It was unbelievable."
Detwiler finished up with only 84 pitches, just 61 after that first inning. Under normal circumstances, he might have been able to go out for the seventh. But manager Davey Johnson had other ideas, knowing that Detwiler wasn't feeling very good after his last start in Arizona August 12.
"He said he felt pretty good the last couple of days," Johnson said. "But I know how it can feel when you are under the weather. I had a fresh bullpen and the guys I wanted to use."
Detwiler was able to battle through the sixth inning and ended up with another impressive performance against the Mets. He has allowed only three earned runs to the Mets in his last 13 innings at Nationals Park.
Before this season, Detwiler had managed a total of six wins in 29 starts (39 games) since 2007. In 2012, Detwiler is now 7-5 in 19 starts (25 games) after Friday's win over the Mets.
His resiliency through a tough first inning, and not feeling 100 percent last week, shows that Detwiler is making big strides in what is turning into a career year.