The Nationals got a little bit of a scare early this afternoon when pitching coach Steve McCatty needed to be taken to the hospital after dealing with elevated blood pressure and an irregular heartbeat.
The good news, however, is that McCatty is fine, according to manager Davey Johnson.
“McCatty’s doing all right. He’s his usual grumpy self,” Johnson said with a smile. “Blood pressure went way up and heart rate started going irregular. I know all about it. ... Hopefully he was watching the game and I was hoping that (Wilson Ramos) grand slam would shock him right out of that atrial fibrillation.”
The plan for now, Johnson said, is to have the 59-year-old McCatty stay overnight in the hospital and, assuming his condition has improved tomorrow, he can then join the Nats on their flight to Detroit.
McCatty probably would’ve liked what he saw from Taylor Jordan today, as the rookie right-hander notched his first career win with six innings of one-run ball. Jordan walked one and struck out seven, and fared pretty well considering he’d faced the Mets back on June 29 and they already had an idea of what he was bringing to the table.
“I don’t think he was as sharp as his last time out. But he threw awful good,” Johnson said. “Made pitches when he had to. And his slider keeps getting better.”
“(Facing a team for the second time) gives you a good read on how your stuff is. They know what you throw and they still don’t hit you.”
It sure didn’t hurt that Jordan had an 8-0 lead to play with after just three innings and that the Nats were up 13-1 when he left the game after six. Denard Span homered and went 4-for-4, Ian Desmond also went 4-for-4, Ryan Zimmerman had three hits and Wilson Ramos had his first career grand slam and five RBIs.
“Yeah, that was so good,” Johnson said. ” Zim saw two pitches (in his first two at-bats), went 2-for-2. ... That’s never happened before, since I’ve been here. But just being more aggressive.”
Span, meanwhile, is now 5-for-7 with two homers in his last two games, and he was batting seventh in both of those contests.
“He’s swinging the bat a lot better,” Johnson said. “He’s also getting a little more aggressive. I think in the leadoff spot, you kind of want to make the pitcher work a lot, helps all the hitters behind you. But I think your on-base percentage always goes up when you show a pitcher you’re going to hammer something when he tries to get something down the middle early and get ahead.
“He’s been more aggressive on balls that are pretty much down the middle. He’ll still take the borderline pitches, but I like his approach. And he’s actually making contact out front more than even with it and rolling over. So that’s great.”
It’s been a strange homestand for the Nats, who lost their first six games after the All-Star break, fired their hitting coach, had two walk-off homers, lost a game 11-0, won a game 14-1 and now have been on the winning end of things in four of their last five.
Their spirits have been buoyed these last four days, and now it’s on them to carry it forward.
“The talent is there. I’ve never given up on the talent,” Johnson said. “It’s just we need to start expressing it more often. And it hasn’t just been the hitting, the pitching’s been ... everything goes from the pitching. But our pitching hasn’t been as consistent from jumpstreet as it was last year. And everything rolls off the pitching. The offense, when you get in a good-pitched game, your offense is always more active. But when you’re giving up runs early then it kind of puts a stifle on everything. Everybody tries to be too fine. And I think the pitching’s coming around and obviously the hitting’s coming with it.”