Jayson Werth’s three run home run — and the pitching of lefty Ross Detwiler — led the Washington Nationals to a 4-1 victory over the reeling Arizona Diamondbacks at Nationals Park on Monday night. The Werth home run (he was 2-4 in the victory) provided the difference in the game, with the slumping free agent finally hitting the ball with authority. It was the sixth loss in a row for the Diamondbacks in their quest to win the N.L. West. They now lead the Giants in the West by a single game.
Detwiler, who is now in the mix for a starting spot in 2012, turned in an impressive performance, giving up six hits and one earned run in 6.2 innings of work. Detwiler’s outing provided further evidence that the former sixth overall draft pick has finally arrived in the majors: “He threw a good game,” Snakes’ manager Kirk Gibson said after his team’s loss. “He came after us, but we couldn’t put anything together. He didn’t give us any free chances.”
Werth’s at-bats, meanwhile, have finally begun to provide evidence that he’s emerging from his season long slump. “Probably the last week to 10 days, I’ve really locked it in,” he said after the game. “It was a struggle, really. It has been a long time coming. I knew where it was. I just didn’t know how to get there. Finally, I feel I’m getting there.”
The Wisdom of Section 1-2-9: It was an irritable crowd that greeted the Diamondbacks on Monday, the residue (a section mate offered) of the Phillies’ visit over the weekend. “I feel almost at home now that those guys are gone.” The only real negatives of the night were reserved for the Phillies — and for the Nationals’ ownership. When a fan was escorted out of the ballpark for throwing Henry Blanco’s home run back on the field, the section stood and booed. “These guys don’t get it,” a regular noted. “We’re trying to get people in here, not kick ’em out.”
But most of the negative comments on Monday were reserved for the D-Backs, who seemed anything but the leaders of the West. “These guys look like they’re asleep,” a section regular noted. “I’ve never seen a team so down.” Another Nats regular was even more outspoken. “Who are these guys,” he said. “I mean really — Cody Ransom? Collin Cowgill? These are the guys who are taking on the Giants? Give me a break.” Later, when Ryan Roberts came to the plate, one of the regulars laughed. “It’s like watching the Illustrated Man,” he said. “I know he’s good, but geez. That ink is moving.”
Despite his ubiquitous tattoos, third sacker Ryan is among the best of the Diamondbacks, a truth that became obvious when Stephen Drew was moved to the disabled list with a season-ending broken ankle. The good-glove, so-so bat is the infield spark plug for a team that has made its way back to the top after a disastrous 2010 campaign. Still, the D-Backs will need a lot more than what they showed on Monday to outpace the Giants — they are sixth in the league in hitting, but only 10th in pitching.
Last year the bullpen was the culprit, but most recently it’s been the starting pitching, which cratered in a recent series in Atlanta, despite the heroics of underrated Cy Young possibility Ian Kennedy and semi-sidearm specialist and former Pale Hose Daniel Hudson. The D-Backs problems (such as they are), were on full display on Monday.
Veteran Joe Saunders (the former Northern Virginia wunderkind), was just average (his 3.98 ERA is about as good as he’ll get this season), and the fall-off after him is precipitous — Josh Collmenter is celebrated, but he’s inconsistent, and there really isn’t anyone else, unless you count Zach Duke (and most people don’t). “Listen, they’re better than they look,” a fan in Row BB said. “They have to be. They’re ten games over .500.” That may be, but they didn’t look it on Monday.