PHILADELPHIA - Ross Detwiler is usually pretty tough on himself after a poor outing.
Tonight, given how close the Nationals are to clinching the National League East and how few starts he has left this season, Detwiler didn’t hold back when asked about his performance in the Nationals’ 6-3 loss to the Phillies.
“It was embarrassing,” a dejected Detwiler said after the game.
The Nationals have watched the Phillies celebrate in person three times in the last five years. In both 2007 and 2008, the Phillies clinched the division title with wins over the Nats in Philly, and in 2010, the Phillies locked up the NL East at Nats Park.
Coming into this series, the Nationals could have exacted some revenge and clinched the division title in the series finale against the Phillies if all had played out as they hoped. After their loss tonight and Atlanta’s win over the Marlins, that’s no longer a possibility.
The earliest they now can clinch is Friday in St. Louis.
“You take a lot of pride getting a win down the stretch like this,” Detwiler said. “That’s what we all play for. It could have been a big step. We could have celebrated on their field like they have on our field, and I didn’t let that happen.”
Detwiler allowed five runs over five innings of work tonight. He served up a solo home run to Darin Ruf in the second inning (the homer was the first major league hit for the 26-year-old rookie), and then surrendered four runs in the third. Detwiler walked the first two batters he faced in the inning, gave up an RBI single to Ryan Howard, then allowed a three-run shot to Carlos Ruiz that made it 5-1.
“The worst part about it was our team came back the next couple innings, really fought back, and we had a good chance to win that game and I put us in a bad situation,” Detwiler said. “That loss is completely on me in that second and third inning.”
The Ruf home run came on a 3-2 fastball up in the zone. Detwiler had faced Ruf in college; the Phillies’ rookie played at Creighton, while Detwiler played at Missouri Valley Conference rival Missouri State.
“He went to Creighton, right? Perfect,” Detwiler said. “Good guy to be the first one, right? I’m sure he got me in college, too.”
The issues in the third inning were “more mechanical,” Detwiler said. “We haven’t watched video or anything yet. More mechanical, I think. The focus is a little gone. It’s something that can’t happen, especially at this level, and in games down the stretch when we’re trying to win.”
Manager Davey Johnson suggested that Detwiler relied on his fastball too much early on, but Detwiler felt that because he was falling behind in the count, he couldn’t go to his offspeed stuff as much as he would’ve liked to.
“When I don’t even have a fastball, that’s what happened,” he said. “I was kinda out there throwing the ball (at) the other batter’s box. It wasn’t even close. You can’t even expect a swing and miss at that point.”
Detwiler did settle down and retire the final 12 guys he faced, which might allow him to take at least something positive out of this outing. He can also look back to his last two starts, in which he allowed a total of two earned runs over 12 innings.
“Just forget about this one, go back to the last few,” Detwiler said. “This is a team I felt really good against. Once you put people on base and you get veteran guys like that in that situation, they know what to do, and they did it.”