The start the Nats needed and the speech that got them started

When Ross Detwiler reached for his phone after tonight’s game, he had 83 text messages waiting for him.

Good thing he won’t be needed to pitch for at least another few days. His fingers might be numb for a while if he plans on getting back to everyone.

Detwiler took the mound tonight needing to pitch the game of his life. He did just that.

He’s had more impressive stat lines this season. But Detwiler’s effort, given the circumstances, should put this outing up there on the list of best starts delivered by a Nationals pitcher this season.

“I can’t say how proud I am for Ross, for what he did,” Ryan Zimmerman said as Wale’s “Pretty Girls” blasted through the speakers in the Nationals clubhouse. “To go through what he went through the first half of the season and have a great second half, and then scuffle a little bit at the end and come out tonight under this pressure and threw the game he did tonight (is) pretty unbelievable.”

Detwiler acknowledged that he might have been trying to be a little too fine his last time against the Cardinals, a little too perfect. He got smacked around Busch Stadium that day, allowing seven runs over 2 1/3 innings. Today, he worked off his fastball, firing two- and four-seamers on both sides of the plate. He mixed in his curveball, and utilized a change-up at times, keeping Cardinals hitters off balance.

The lefty threw six innings, allowed just one unearned run on three hits and slowed a lineup which has terrorized most Nationals pitchers over the last three games.

“I think he showed the nation what he’s made of,” Ian Desmond said. “He’s a legitimate big league pitcher. I think we’ve got a rotation full of them, a bullpen full of them. He came out and delivered a gem today.”

Detwiler got the job done during the game. Before the game, veteran Mark DeRosa, who isn’t on the Nationals roster for the National League Division Series, made his contribution to the effort.

DeRosa, as respected a man as there is in the clubhouse, grabbed the microphone attached to a karaoke machine which sits near his locker. His teammates gathered around and DeRosa started to read a passage from “The Man in the Arena,” a Teddy Roosevelt speech, one he often reads to himself before big games but had never previously recited publicly.

The version DeRosa read to his teammates might’ve had some colorful words carefully placed in there, but the message grabbed hold of the guys clustered in front of him.

“After I read it, I said, ‘You know who spoke these words? Teddy (freaking) Roosevelt,’ ” DeRosa said. “I went about it the same way I always do. I just wanted to be a little less funny and a little more serious. They won’t listen to me if I don’t throw a few jokes in there. Everybody has a different way of going about it. Maybe some guys in this clubhouse don’t think that way. ... I was just speaking it with sincerity from my heart.”

The passage had players from all areas of the clubhouse taking notice.

“I was in the training room, getting tape and stuff in there,” Jayson Werth said. “And I could barely hear it. But the bits and pieces I did hear ... because I actually know that speech real well. I think it’s a good one. It’s kind of very parallel to the world we live in today. Not only that, but the fact Teddy gets disrespected (in the Presidents Race) for however many years it was. When I did some research on Teddy last year, I ran across that and I found it to be a very powerful segment of that speech. So when I heard D-Ro with some of that stuff, I was like, somebody finally is reading this aloud in our clubhouse. I thought it was good.”

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