Davey Johnson walked into the interview room next door to the Nationals’ clubhouse, sat down at the table in front of reporters and broke into a big smile.
“Wow! That’s my kind of ballgame,” Johnson said.
This was certainly another crazy one, one which saw the Nats jump out to a 2-0 lead, lose it in the ninth when Tyler Clippard blew his first save since taking over the closer duties, tie it up in the bottom of the ninth on a dramatic two-out, two-strike RBI single by Danny Espinosa, fall behind 4-3 in the 10th and tie it up again on Bryce Harper’s RBI triple.
And as if that wasn’t enough, the Nationals then earned their second win this season on a walk-off wild pitch.
I think everyone in the Nats’ clubhouse would have preferred a nice, simple 2-0 win, but they’ll take the 5-4 thriller, as well.
“I’ve said it a hundred times, the makeup on this ballclub is off the charts,” Johnson said. “There’s no give-up, they’re all competitive. Probably not as flashy as a lot of players, but they’re everyday ballplayers. They take it serious, they work hard at the trade. There’s no give-up and they look at every situation as an opportunity. They take nothing for granted. I saw that in this club last year and it’s the same this year.”
One of the few negatives from tonight’s game was that Ross Detwiler ended up stuck with a no-decision after delivering arguably his best start of the season. The lefty went seven scoreless innings, allowed five hits and struck out four.
He was aggressive, he was pitch-efficient and he did it having not made a start since all the way back on July 5, a span of 11 days in between outings.
“The shame of the game is that Det played a great game,” Johnson said. “That was an unbelievable game. I mean 11 days off and seven strong innings. He just really pitched great. He had great stuff, his fastball was just diving and moving. It was just a great effort, it’s a shame we wasted it for him.
“He matches up pretty good against this club, this club has a few problems against left-handers. But his pitch location ... he was a little amped up, he overthrew a bunch of times, one to the backstop and a bunch of them up. But he’s knowing who he is now. I like what I’m seeing.”
Detwiler’s shot at his fifth win of the season was taken away in the ninth when Clippard surrendered a three-run homer to Jordany Valdespin, putting the Mets on top for the first time all night. Clippard had recorded 14 saves in a row prior to tonight.
“Sometimes I think he relies on his changeup a little too much instead of locating his fastball,” Johnson said of Clippard. “When he’s really good, he’s locating both pitches. I’m not sure what that pitch was that Valdespin hit out, I think it was just a mediocre changeup. Same thing that Thole hit for a base hit, it was a mediocre changeup. I can’t fault Clip, he’s been superb. Those things happen, but I just hate to see it for Det.”
Espinosa’s game-tying hit in the bottom of the ninth came with him hitting left-handed, showing he’s continuing to progress from that side of the plate.
“I’ve said it, and you guys thought I was BS’ing probably, but a little bit each time in the past month, I’ve seen him have a better approach,” Johnson said. “The culmination was in Miami when he got those three hits left-handed. He has the confidence and his stroke is great, his approach is great and he has made the progress. Now he’s where he needs to be.”
The Nats got lucky in the late-innings after Johnson pinch-ran Ian Desmond, who was held out of the lineup with a sore oblique. Johnson was then going to replace Desmond defensively, but stuck with him. No balls were hit Desmond’s way. Johnson let Desmond hit, and the Mets intentionally walked him, preventing the shortstop from having to take any cuts with the game-winning run at third.
“It worked out perfect today for Desi,” said Johnson, who said Desmond playing tomorrow is probably “wishful thinking.”
“We’ll see how he is tomorrow.”
Desmond stayed late to get treatment on his oblique. He likely will be out of the starting lineup for the fourth straight day tomorrow. But at least he was a part of a thriller tonight.