Steve McCatty is a jokester, a guy never afraid to make one of his pitchers smile to lighten the mood in a big spot.
He’s also a bit of a disciplinarian at times, scolding pitchers who he feels aren’t working to their strengths.
So what type of speech did McCatty give Drew Storen tonight, when the Nationals’ pitching coach came out of the dugout in the top of the seventh with two on, none out, Giancarlo Stanton at the plate and Storen having a 2-0 count on the Nationals-killer?
“He just kind of said to not try to overthrow and really work on throwing quality pitches to Stanton, because you don’t want to leave one over the heart of the plate,” Storen said.
Manager Davey Johnson joked that McCatty delivered a few magic words to Storen.
“I think it’s just his general charisma, is what it really comes down to,” Storen said, tongue planted firmly in cheek. “Soothing words, I guess, would be another way to put it.”
In all seriousness, Storen did really well to stop things from unraveling in the seventh, getting the dangerous Stanton to strike out and then retiring Logan Morrison and Donovan Solano on pop-ups to end the inning.
“You take a breather and kind of reset,” Storen said. “Obviously the inning wasn’t off to a good start. But you’re going to have those. It’s about results, and putting a zero up there.”
The Nats’ bullpen has gotten a ton of work lately, and tonight was no exception. The relief crew combined to work seven innings after the rain delay knocked Stephen Strasburg from the game after two frames.
“It takes a little bit of a toll,” Storen said. “But I think we’ve had our fair share of work the last couple years. We take a lot of pride in that. It’s kind of fun. It’s a challenge for us. (Craid) Stammen goes out there and does a great job. I don’t think there’s anybody else in the league I’d want out there after a situation like that than him.”
Ian Desmond saw Jayson Werth get intentionally walked in front of him in the seventh, and he then delivered the game-winning RBI with a single to left off left-hander Mike Dunn.
“It was probably the right move,” Desmond said of the intentional pass to Werth. “When I was up there, I thought they were going to walk both of us to get to LaRoche with nobody warming and a left-lefty situation. But probably the smart move. ... I don’t even know if I hit a strike, to be honest, but fortunately it got the job done.”
Desmond was asked whether it motivates him when the guy in front of him gets the intentional walk, putting Desmond in the batter’s box in a big spot.
“In Little League, it was, yeah, very motivational,” he cracked. “It’s basically the same situation, runner on second with two outs. There’s no real additional adrenaline or anything like that. It was nice that there was a lefty out there. Those situations this year I’ve kind of been struggling a little bit, but as of late it’s been turning around so it’s good to keep it going.”
Desmond was involved in a weird play in the sixth, when Adeiny Hechavarria’s grounder to Ryan Zimmerman with runners at the corners turned into a 5-2-6 out, and nearly a double play. Logan Morrison, on third when Hechavarria came up, broke late for home on Hechavarria’s grounder, and got caught in a rundown. Solano - who was on first when the play started - then tried to take the extra base and go to third while Morrison was hung up, and Desmond saw both runners converging on him as he covered third base.
He tagged out Morrison, notching the second out of the inning, as Solano slid in safely. It looked like he almost tagged Solano as well, but Desmond said he wasn’t actually that close to securing the double play.
“That probably wasn’t a very good play on my part, to be honest,” Desmond said. “Probably should’ve just let them run all the way back and see what they did. Sometimes you can get a double play out of that by letting them try to figure out who’s supposed to be on the bag, who’s not supposed to be on the bag. That was probably a little bit of a mistake on my part, but fortunately we were able to get one.”