As Davey Johnson entered the press conference room following this afternoon’s 11-0 drubbing at the hands of the Mets, he managed half a smile.
“Do we have to talk about it?” Johnson asked reporters.
Unfortunately for Johnson, yes, he did.
The first question Johnson received was in reference to Drew Storen, who Johnson had said pregame would likely be unavailable for both games because of a bout of the flu.
Johnson ended up using Storen with one out in the top of the ninth when the game was already pretty much out of reach, with the Mets leading 5-0. Ryan Mattheus wasn’t able to give the Nationals the two innings Johnson was hoping for, so the Nats had to go back to their bullpen to notch the final two outs.
With the ‘pen already a little worn down and another game yet to come tonight, the Nats felt they needed to use all of their available arms, so bullpen coach Jim Lett asked Storen if he could pitch, and Storen gave the go-ahead.
“Well, he got to feeling a little better,” Johnson said. “Had to use him. Tried to get by with Mattheus, but took him as many pitches as he could throw without taking a chance on hurting him.”
Storen did his job, getting the final two outs the Nats needed, but he got beat around pretty good, allowing an RBI single, RBI double and a three-run homer to the first three batters he faced, all in a four-pitch span.
His ERA jumped to 5.95 after the outing, but you can’t blame the guy for his performance today. Storen clearly took one for the team today.
Storen isn’t the only guy dealing with a health issue; Bryce Harper banged his left knee diving for a fly ball off the bat of Daniel Murphy in the fifth inning and he’s questionable for the nightcap of the doubleheader, according to Johnson.
“I think he dove on that ball and kind of aggravated it a little bit,” Johnson said. “Afterward, he was limping a little bit. Seemed to be still running OK. I haven’t had a chance to check on him.”
Harper got a day off two days ago in order to rest the left knee, the same one that has been an issue going back to Harper’s wall collision in Los Angeles in mid-May. Johnson said that Harper was icing the knee recently, and he was pulled in the eighth inning of today’s game for a pinch-runner.
The Nats would probably care to forget this ballgame, one that the Mets led 1-0 after one, 3-0 after three and 11-0 after their six-run ninth. Jordan Zimmermnn allowed five runs over 6 2/3 innings of work, and the normally pitch-efficient righty needed 118 pitches to get to that point.
Zimmermann allowed two homers to Murphy - a solo shot in the first and a two-run shot in the third - both on sliders.
“He threw the ball good,” Johnson said. “He was strong. Just not a very good outcome. Threw a lot of pitches, for him. I don’t know if he was trying to be too fine or what. The first whirly bird he threw in there on the first home run was not a good one.”
Zimmermann was bested by Mets starter Jenrry Mejia, who was making his first appearance of the season after dealing with an elbow injury. Mejia held the Nats scoreless over seven innings, allowing seven hits and striking out seven.
“He had like a little slurve, the ball had some good movement on it obviously because some pretty good hitters first time they saw him didn’t make much contact,” Johnson said. “But he threw the ball pretty good, 94 (mph).
“We had people up with some runners in scoring position early and couldn’t do it.”
Now the Nats face Matt Harvey in the nightcap. I’m sure they’re thrilled about that.