Over the last two games, the Nationals have been outscored 20-4. They’ve gone from being in control of the series after a Game 1 win at St. Louis to being on the ropes and one loss from booking tee times.
Things have turned for the worse in a hurry. But Davey Johnson’s been here before. He knows he’s got a talented group and he’s not ready to panic.
“We’re not out of this by a long shot. ... Shoot, I’ve had my back to worse walls than this,” Johnson said. “I like my ballclub, and I think we’ll come out and play a good game tomorrow.”
The Nationals got whupped today. There’s no other way to put it. Edwin Jackson battled from the first inning on, allowing four runs on eight hits over five innings. Nationals relievers combined to allow four more runs over four innings of work. Offensively, the Nats put up seven hits, but were held without a run and struggled mightily with runners on base yet again.
Jackson allowed a run in the first inning, then surrendered a three-run homer to Cardinals shortstop Pete Kozma in the second, which broke open the game. He settled down from there and finished with three scoreless frames, but the damage had already been done.
“He just made bad pitches,” Johnson said. “Talked to (catcher Kurt) Suzuki, he wasn’t hitting his spots, and a lot of hits, pitches off him (over) the plate, and good hitters will jump all over it and that’s what happened early. I thought he got a little sharper as the game went on, but a couple of really bad pitches, that’s the story.
“When he starts throwing a lot of quality strikes (at) the knees early in the game, he usually throws a strong game, but he was up from the start. And you can’t do that against a good-hitting ballclub.”
The Nationals sure had their chances against veteran Cardinals right-hander Chris Carpenter, but they couldn’t scratch any runs across. They put the leadoff runner on in both the first and second innings and had runners in scoring position in the first, second, fourth, fifth and sixth frames. Somehow, Carpenter was able to escape having pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings of work.
“I didn’t think (Carpenter) had great stuff, but he didn’t give the hitters any good pitches, and that’s the name of the ballgame,” Johnson said. “He stayed out of the middle of the plate, kept the ball down, and had a good curveball, change. That’s the key to pitching.”
As for the poor situational hitting, Johnson gave the Cardinals’ pitchers credit for doing what it took to continuously pitch out of jams and strand runners.
“The opposing pitchers are making good pitches, not giving in,” he said. “They are not sitting on balls. I don’t attribute it to (my guys) being young or inexperienced. Just, you know, I tip my hat to the other guys.”
Johnson said he’ll give no thought to starting Gio Gonzalez on three days rest tomorrow, and will give the ball to scheduled starter Ross Detwiler. The 26-year-old left-hander will pitch with the season on the line, hoping to give Gonzalez a chance to pitch the Nats to the National League Championship Series on Friday.
“We have two more ballgames,” Johnson said. “Det’s capable of pitching a good game tomorrow. That’s been our strength all year. These young guys have pitched great all year. Need a couple more good pitched games this series.”