Johnson discusses Nats’ 10-9 loss

Davey Johnson said after today’s 10-9 loss to the Cardinals that Jayson Werth was pulled from the game in the ninth inning because of cramping.

Werth later said the cramps were in his hamstring, and while he hasn’t dealt with that type of a thing during a game in four or five years, he hopes to be able to play tomorrow.

Werth and the rest of the Nationals’ hitters did their job today, putting up nine runs and battling back to regain the lead in the sixth after the Cardinals had jumped on top a couple innings prior. But Washington’s pitchers had a hard time today, although you can’t entirely blame them; they were facing a Cardinals team that came into this series leading the National League in batting average and runs scored.

Starter Jordan Zimmermann went just 3 2/3 innings (his shortest outing of the season), surrendered eight hits (tying a season high) and allowed eight earned runs (twice more than his previous season high) today. It was a rare clunker from a guy who sees his ERA (3.01) rise above 3.00 for the first time all season.

“He was having a little problem with the mound, he was flying a little bit open,” manager Davey Johnson said. “Left the ball up and couldn’t get it down. Even his sliders were up. Just felt like he was going to make some adjustments and he never could make any adjustments. Slider was supposed to be down to (Matt) Carpenter. It was right there. Just couldn’t get his ball down. I don’t know if it was too much rest or what.”

zimmermann-red-throw-sidebar.jpgZimmermann now has a 6.23 ERA over his last six starts, but that isn’t of concern to his manager.

“No, I’m not worried,” Johnson said. “He’s strong. It was just one of those days. Sometimes when he has that extra day of rest, he’s too strong. Kind of flies open, jumps at the hitter. I keep thinking he’s going to start making some adjustments and getting it down.”

And the fact that Zimmerman has now thrown the most innings in a season in his career? Any reason to believe he’s starting to tire?

“No, not at all,” Johnson said, “He’s fine. The ball’s coming out of his hand good. He actually said the shoulder problem that he had earlier, it’s been getting better and better and he’s almost back to feeling great.”

Zimmermann wasn’t the only Nationals hurler to have issues today; Sean Burnett allowed three baserunners (including a walk of the leadoff hitter) and the game-tying run in the eighth inning, and Drew Storen surrendered the game-winning run in the ninth.

“That’s his spot,” Johnson said of using Burnett in the eighth. “A lot of left-handers in there, just what killed him was walking the leadoff hitter. That’s what killed him. Close ballgame, you can’t give no free passes to the leadoff hitter.”

Burnett has retired only 16 of the last 30 hitters he’s faced, but Johnson says he still likes the way his lefty is throwing.

As for Storen, what killed him was giving up a leadoff single to Allen Craig and then allowing Craig to steal second. Storen was so slow to the plate that neither shortstop Ian Desmond nor second baseman Danny Espinosa bothered to cover the bag. Craig swiped the base standing up, then scored just pitches later.

“(Storen) was slow to the plate last year, but this year, boy, he’s very deliberate,” Johnson said. “I think he was over two seconds there on some of those deliveries. That cost him tonight. Cost us. ... He’s got to quicken it up just a little bit. With that move, anybody can steal. It seems to me, last year, he was (1.5 seconds). But like I said, a couple today over two seconds.”

The Nats had held the Cardinals to a single run over the first 19 innings of this series. That was bound to change, and it did. Quickly.

“I mean, it’s an awful good-hitting lineup,” Johnson said. “The pitching’s been kind of holding them down, and they broke out. But we’ll get them tomorrow.”

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