FLUSHING, N.Y. - It all went right for Davey Johnson’s bunch today.
The Nationals led 1-0 after the first batter of the game, thanks to Ian Desmond’s leadoff home run. They got an outstanding pitching performance from Ross Detwiler, making his first start of 2012. And they got five tack-on runs in the middle innings, allowing them to roll to a 6-2 win over the Mets.
Detwiler’s outing was the main topic of discussion with Johnson after the game, and the Nats’ skipper was clearly thrilled with the way his lefty shut down the Mets, throwing five shutout innings, allowing just two hits and striking out six.
“He threw the ball awfully well,” Johnson said. “He could’ve probably given me another inning, but it was his first outing and I didn’t have a full spring of him starting. It was an outstanding effort on his part.
“A little bit of everything (was working). He had a good curveball, he spotted his fastball well. He was hitting his spots. Just an outstanding effort. Made it look easy.”
Detwiler came on mostly in relief situations during spring training, so he wasn’t as stretched out as the other Nats’ starters entering their first starts of the season. As a result, Johnson opted to pull Detwiler after five innings and 71 pitches, even though he was in a zone, having retired 15 of the last 16 hitters he faced.
Including Detwiler’s last two starts of 2011, the 26-year-old has now thrown 18 1/3 straight scoreless innings.
“He had a decent year in Triple-A (last year), but he really stepped it up a notch when he came up and pitched out of the ‘pen, and he had some great starts for me last year,” Johnson said. “This is just really picking up where he left off. Totally in command, pitching great. Looked like he got stronger as the game went on. I was hesitant to hook him, but my instincts tell me don’t push it. He can only give me another inning. Let’s end it right there.”
All along, even through Jayson Werth’s 1-for-14 start to the season, Johnson has been saying that he likes how his right fielder is swinging the bat. The results weren’t there, Johnson said, but they’ll come if Werth keeps on the right track.
Werth delivered in a big way tonight, going 4-for-5 with two RBIs, a performance which raised his batting average from .071 before the game to .263 after it.
“This game is a lot mental,” Johnson said. “You get a few hits in a ballgame and you start feeling better about yourself. We had a little talk before the game and he was in a good frame of mind. He’s so driven, wants to do so well, sometimes that gets in the way.”
What did Johnson and Werth talk about?
“Nothing, just be yourself,” Johnson said. “Go express that talent. And he did.”