Left-hander Ross Detwiler got in trouble early against the Rockies, and they rolled to seven runs in the first four innings.
That was just enough to hold up in a 7-6 Colorado victory that dropped the Nationals back below .500 at 37-38.
Manager Davey Johnson said Detwiler needed to mix up his pitches better to beat the Rockies. But Sunday, Detwiler did not have confidence in one of his pitches and that cost him.
"Basically, he is a sinkerball pitcher," Johnson said. "He is still very young and learning how to use every weapon in his arsenal. Today, he didn't feel like he had a good sinker and locate it very good, so he threw more changeups. It is sequence pitching. He has been relying since he got here on his fastball.
"This is a good fastball-hitting club. You have to set up pitches and he is still early in doing that."
Detwiler did not agree with Johnson that he was not picking the right sequence to mix up the hitters. He felt the Rockies just hit the ball away from the defense.
"A couple hard-hit balls," Detwiler said. "They were kind of putting the bat on the ball and they were falling in today."
Detwiler was adamant, even despite Michael Cuddyer and Nolan Arenado homers, that the Rockies were placing the ball well but not crushing it all over the park.
"They didn't hit the ball that hard today," Detwiler said. "There was two hard hit balls and everything else just fell in. You saw it when (Craig) Stammen came up, he threw a good 0-2 pitch and broke a guy's bat (and gave up) two RBIs. It was one of those days. Maybe look at a guy like (Ian) Krol, who strikes everybody out. Maybe I should start doing that."
Detwiler also believes all was not lost in the loss and the Nats aren't starting over because of losses in the final two games of the series. The Nationals were down 7-0 heading into the bottom of the fourth, adn rallied to cut the lead to 7-6 after eight innings.
"We are not back to square one," Detwiler said. "We scored six runs today. We came back and just fell a little short. I think we are still pushing forward. It just wasn't very good on my part today."
But it is obvious that deception and keeping the hitters guessing a bit is part of what makes a starter very good. Detwiler is the first to admit, even in frustration, he did not have that part of his game on Sunday.