In Davey Johnson’s mind, that grand slam was just another big moment in what’s been a really hot stretch for Morse over the last couple weeks.
“Michael Morse, he had a rough road to hoe, being out for a long time (with a strained lat) and then coming back, and just off this last homestand, I think it started in Houston, he started really getting in a more aggressive hitting mode,” Johnson said. “Really hitting off the fastball better. He was more or less kind of defending on the fastball and hitting more breaking stuff. Last year, he was real aggressive on hitting the fastball. Getting it out front. And he got jammed on the pitch before (the grand slam), broke his bat, and then he came back and threw him a ball out over the plate and he crushed it. Got tremendous power. ... He’s in a good spot right now. The whole middle of the lineup is really in a good spot, and that’s why we’ve been scoring a lot of runs.
“He basically carried the club last year and then missing all of spring training, first two and a half months of the season and then trying to pick up where he left off, it’s not an easy task. But the way he’s swinging the bat now, he’ll probably end up with 80 RBIs and hit his .300 again. But I’d say the last 10 days, he’s the old Michael Morse.”
After Morse’s homer got the Nats on the board, Bryce Harper ended up providing the game-winning runs with a two-run shot in the fifth which made it a 6-2 Nats lead at the time. It was Harper’s 11th homer of the season, and just his third since the All-Star break.
“I thought he acquitted himself pretty good on the road, swung the bat pretty good,” Johnson said. “Last game he went oh-for, he hit a couple balls on a line. I told him after the game, ‘Great game, except you’ve got to hit the cutoff man. That’s a no-no.’ “
Johnson’s referring to Harper’s airmailed throw in the first inning which went over the head of catcher Kurt Suzuki and allowed a runner to move into scoring position. After the game, Johnson informed Harper he’s going to get the day off tomorrow, a piece of information which the skipper said wasn’t received too warmly by his rookie outfielder.
“He’s already jumped all over one of my coaches, (saying), ‘I’m not tired!’ But that’s good that he feels that way,” Johnson said. “I want to get Tyler Moore some at-bats, and we’ve got a left-hander tomorrow. There’s 25 guys. I’ve said it 100 times. You don’t just win with eight. And I’ll be doing the same thing getting (Steve Lombardozzi) in there. I’ll probably play Lombo on Sunday and rest Desi.
“It’s good. Everybody’s contributed so far, and I’m not going to just forget about the guys that had a pretty defined role until we got healthy. We’re in a good place. It’s where good teams need to be.”
Good teams also have fifth starters who can deliver quality starts, which is what Ross Detwiler gave today, allowing three runs over six innings. He gave up two runs in the first, but settled down, retiring 13-of-15 at one point.
“Det was good. I thought he threw the ball good,” Johnson said. “The first inning, he got tuned for a couple runs, but I thought he threw the ball good. I didn’t want to go any further with him. He had a rough outing (last time out) because he was sick, and he was sick for about another two days after that.”
Finally, Johnson commented on the interesting scene in the bottom of the third inning, when Mets starter Johan Santana was asked by the umpires to cover up a gold patch on the back of his glove. Turns out, it was Johnson who had requested that Santana do something about the patch, because he thought it might affect his players on the basepaths.
“The hitters didn’t complain, but I was worried that when we got runners on base, that the reflection off that shiny gold thing on there could shine their eyes, because it was hitting me in mine,” Johnson said. “I went to the umpire, I said, ‘We haven’t had anybody on base, but I wish you’d check that glove, because I don’t think it conforms to the rules. It’s supposed to be one color or similar color, and gold, shiny gold is not a similar color.’
“I said, ‘You can tell them it’s from me. My players haven’t complained yet. I’m complaining.’ He said, ‘I’ll tell ‘em it’s from the players.’ It’s just little things like that that can bother me.”
Not much else should bother Johnson tonight. His team is now 29 games above .500.