With today’s 2-1 win over the Cubs, the Nationals clinched the first winning season for a D.C. baseball team since 1969.
Davey Johnson didn’t seem to care much.
Asked after today’s game about the significance of the Nationals reaching 82 wins, Johnson said, “I wasn’t really concerned about that,” and then quickly switched the topic.
The fact that the Nats guaranteed a winning season is nice, especially considering where this franchise has finished many seasons since moving to the district in 2005. But the Nationals have much larger goals than just a winning record: goals like a postseason berth, a division title and a World Series.
One guy who might help them get there is Ross Detwiler, who pitched seven scoreless innings today, allowing just four hits and three walks. He lowered his ERA to 3.15 and
“Det was awesome. He’s been pretty awesome all year long, but today he was real special,” Johnson said. “He mixed in some breaking balls. Even the ones that were bad were pretty good. The curveball got him the double play to get out of that seventh inning. That was just a great pitch at the time. It was a strong effort.
“His fastball has still got tremendous sink. Actually, he pitched more up today than I like to see him. From early on, he started trying to use the breaking ball and he threw a couple changes. He’s just getting better. He’s real confident in his stuff. When he starts using all the weapons in his arsenal, it’s going to be even easier on him.”
The Nats wanted Detwiler to rely more on his fastball earlier in the season, telling him to attack hitters. Then there was a stretch where Detwiler was throwing too many fastballs and not mixing in enough breaking stuff. Johnson likes what he’s seeing from the lefty lately, where he’s finding more of a balance with his pitches but is letting his two-seam fastball do the heavy lifting.
“He really started using that little two-seam sinker and is flipping it up there,” Johnson said. “It worked for him. It’s not a bad pitch. He wasn’t doing what he’s capable of doing and really going after them and overmatching him with a really nasty one. When he does that, uses that with his location, he’s understanding that about himself.”
Adam LaRoche gave Detwiler an early lead in the second, hitting his 25th home run of the season. This one came down in the second deck in right.
“He’s just a rhythm hitter,” Johnson said of LaRoche. “He steps in. It’s all about timing. (His) stroke is a great stroke.”
Ryan Zimmerman added an insurance run in the eighth win an RBI double, a run that ended up being huge when Tyler Clippard allowed a run in the ninth before locking down his 30th save of the season. He becomes just the third closer in Nats history to reach the 30-save mark in a single season.
“That’s a huge amount, because he didn’t close the first five weeks or something,” Johnson said. “I know he’s counting them.”