Davey Johnson named Ross Detwiler tonight's "star of the game" after the left-hander allowed just one run over 6 1/3 innings in the Nationals' win over the Diamondbacks.
Told of this development in the Nats' clubhouse, Detwiler cracked a smile.
"I got the star?" he said. "Really? Over Bryce? All right."
Bryce Harper might have driven in the game-winning run with an opposite-field double in the sixth, but it was Detwiler's strong outing that helped the Nationals take the rubber game of their series with Arizona.
Tonight's outing represented the deepest into a game that Detwiler has gone all season, which was nice, considering it followed his only loss yet this year, when he gave up three runs to the Dodgers on Friday.
"I'll tell ya, Det pitched one hell of a ballgame," Johnson said. "That's a good-hitting ball club. He made good pitches. I was really impressed with Det. Gave me a good 6 1/3. Gutty performance against a good-hitting ball club coming back after a tough loss.
"Since I've been here, he's shown a lot of maturity on the hill. A lot of poise. Not daunted. He faced some awfully good hitters. (Justin) Upton hits about .400 against left-handers. (Jason) Kubel hits about the same thing. The meat of that order hits left-handers, and he handled them nicely."
Detwiler pounded the strike zone early in the game tonight, throwing 23 of his first 27 pitches for strikes, and he breezed through Arizona's lineup through the first five innings giving up just a single and two walks.
He got into a little trouble in the sixth (when he gave up his lone run on an Aaron Hill RBI double) and seventh (when Paul Goldschmidt singled leading off the inning and moved into scoring position with one out,) but was able to get to that point in the game because he was so efficient early.
"I threw 40 pitches in the first inning a couple starts ago, and that's just not going to get you deep in games." Detwiler said. "I don't know how many I had this start, but definitely a whole lot better. And the defense, that just keeps them on their toes. If you're throwing a lot of pitches in the first, they're going to kind of get on their heels."
Detwiler has been remarkably consistent this season, allowing just one earned run or fewer in four of his five starts this season. That's the type of stat which jumps out and smacks you in the face, and then smacks you again when you realize that Detwiler is the Nationals' fifth starter.
His 1.59 ERA ranks as the seventh-best in all of baseball, and as I mentioned earlier, the Nats look smarter every time he takes the hill because of their decision to give Detwiler the final spot in the rotation over John Lannan.
"It's more of a tough-luck situation for Lannan because I think he's capable of pitching in the big leagues, no question," right fielder Jayson Werth said. "But Ross really forced their hand, I think. It would have been tough to put him in the bullpen, for me. I think they made the right decision. You watch him pitch last year, with the stuff that he has and in spring training, having him as our fifth is tough.
"You go into a series and depends on how you look at it: He's your fifth or pitches before Strasburg. And I like that. I think that's good for us. I think he's done a good job this year."