ST. LOUIS - Toward the end of a lengthy session with reporters after today's 10-4 loss to the Cardinals, Ross Detwiler, who was hit hard in his 2 1/3 innings of work, was able to inject a little humor to lighten the mood in a quiet Nationals clubhouse.
"This was for all the fans back in D.C.," Detwiler deadpanned. "(I) wanted them to see the team clinch."
Don't take that quote the wrong way; by no means did Detwiler take his rough start lightly. He was frustrated with his inability to keep the ball in the strike zone and get past some early trouble in the second inning.
But Detwiler's postgame message was similar to that of Edwin Jackson two days ago: Yeah, I stunk, but I have faith I'll get back on track the next time out.
"It's a bad start," Detwiler said. "I'm going to have another start this year, and it's going to be a whole lot better than this one."
So what went wrong today? Wasn't hard to pinpoint, especially if you take a peek at the box score.
"I didn't throw any strikes," Detwiler said. "Walked, what, like five people in two innings? I don't think you'll have much success doing that. ... It's just finding an arm slot. I was dropping my elbow quite a bit, and that takes all the movement away from my sinker. I was either spiking it or throwing it in the other batter's box."
Detwiler said that pitching in his hometown of St. Louis in front of his family and friends didn't factor into his performance, but he was frustrated that he couldn't help the Nats lock up the division today.
"I don't really care that it was at home or anything. That's whatever," Detwiler said. "But just that I had a chance to be the guy to clinch. That's the biggest thing. ... I had the first chance at it, and I sucked."
Danny Espinosa crushed a two-run homer in the fourth inning that at the time cut the Cardinals' lead to 7-4, but he also booted a ground ball in the bottom of the second, which could have helped Detwiler get out of some trouble.
"I just kinda handcuffed myself," Espinosa said. "It's a ball that I make 999 times out of 1,000, and I wasn't able to come through right there."
The Nats will now head home and try to wrap up the division there. It'll be nice to do it in D.C., but right now, they're just anxious to finally celebrate and set their sights on the postseason.
"We just want to do it. It doesn't matter where it's at," Ian Desmond said. "It'll be nice to just get it out of the way. But at the same time we've got to play the type of baseball we know we're capable of playing, and we didn't do that today. Bounce back tomorrow."