You can never have too much pitching, but it appears that (if yesterday is any indication), the Nationals have more than enough for next year. Ross Detwiler is the latest evidence — the young lefty produced another more-than-solid outing on Tuesday night, at the back end of a day-night double header, taming the Philadelphia Phillies through 7.1 innings. He shut down the defending N.L. East champs and provided a sweep of the doubleheader in Philadelphia.
The 3-0 victory put the Nationals at 8-8 vs. Philadelphia this season, and Charlie Manuel has to be impressed — the Nats play Philadelphia tough, which is more than you can say about their abilities against the Marlins. Of course, Detwiler had help: a Danny Espinosa home run in the second, a throwing error from Phillies’ catcher Carlos Ruiz that allowed Jayson Werth to score, and his own single up the middle in the sixth.
But Detwiler’s heroics tell only a part of the story: while the box score shows a Nationals’ win, a Philadelphia fans memory will come down to this — an upstart team and untried lefty came into “the Bank” and outdueled Cliff Lee (with his stinking 2.38 ERA), a member of Philadelphia’s vaunted quartet of starters — the third of four veteran pitchers that Philadelphia is counting on to mount yet another assault in this game of capture the flag.
Of course, the other line in Philadelphia is not so much that the Nationals won, but that the Phillies lost. The Ashburns have already clinched the division and can rightly (if lamely) claim that impressive as Detwiler was, Philadelphia’s twin losses on Tuesday show that the Ponies aren’t exactly all in. Still, the Bard of South Philadelphia, is a little disturbed, and not necessarily because he’s paid to be.
“I’m not worried, I just like to see us play better,” manager Charlie Manuel said following the twin losses. “We clinched our division three days ago. Right now, I wouldn’t call it going through the motions. I’d say we’re not focused. We’re not focused into the game, I feel like. It’s normal in some respects.”
For Davey Johnson, however, Detwiler’s pitching (and not the Phillies’ performance), was the story of the game — he was why they performed poorly. “I can’t say enough good things about him,” Johnson said of his young starter. “The Phillies are a great hitting ballclub and he was letter perfect . . . Today he was nice, calm and collected and threw a lot of quality pitches.”
Detwiler made headlines, but so too did Drew Storen, who was perfect in the ninth, and notched his 40th save. Considering the Nationals’ bullpen performance in 2010, Storen’s season long excellence should be cause for a celebration or two. Storen has given the Nationals just over 72 innings in the role of closer this year, with a 2.86 ERA. Those numbers put him among the league’s elite.
No Country For Tim Lincecum: Forget pitching, what you can’t ever have enough of is baseball. Sliding up and down the dial last night (well, it used to be a dial), you could take in a murder in Connecticut over at CNN, or No Country For Old Men on AMC — it must be a marathon, they’ve shown it back to back on successive nights . . .
And if you get bored with that (and you will) you can always flip between Tony LaRussa putting his head through a wall when Kyle McClellan pitches (the Cardinals ended up pulverizing the Madoffs, but still) or, if you really want to be entertained, you can watch Tim Lincecum duel Clayton Kershaw. It’s a perfect segue — “you can’t stop what’s coming” to the Giants attempting to hit Kershaw’s fastball . . .
If the Giants feel “overmatched” when they face Kershaw, it’s only because they are. Timmy is now 0-4 when he faces the Trolley powerhouse; it’s almost like he’s snake bit. Along about the fourth inning last night you had to wonder just how long Lincecum was going to last — he didn’t have his best stuff and his command was suffering. Kershaw, meanwhile, was just cruising along . . .
The Giants mounted a kind of rally in the top of the 8th, when Giants’ catcher Chris Stewart took Kershaw deep. It was a strange at bat; it was not that Kershaw lost his fastball, it’s that he stopped throwing it. You have to wonder why. Stewart wasn’t going to hit his fastball anyway, but Kershaw kept tossing him curves. The Giants, it seems, can’t seem to “get a tourniquet on it” . . .
Kershaw got a well-deserved standing ovation when he left, replaced on the mound by righthanded newbie Kenley Jansen. If Kershaw stopped throwing fastballs, Jansen didn’t: he threw seven of them, right down the middle, and six for strikes — putting down Pablo Sandoval and Carlos Beltran. No mean feat. “And that was that. As they say.” Oh well, what the hell. Here ’tis . . .