"We're going to try to make sure they don't repeat," Davey Johnson told reporters this morning when asked about how hard it is for a team to win back-to-back World Series Championships. The 2011 World Series winning St. Louis Cardinals hold a 2-1 lead in the NLDS over the Washington Nationals heading into Game Four this afternoon, but the Nats' 69-year-old skipper said that he and the Nats are going to do all that they can to make sure the Cardinals don't repeat. "They've got to get through us first," Johnson said.
The Cardinals' finished the regular season with the NL's best AVG (.276) OBP (.338) and second-best SLG (.450) against left-handers, a fact the Nationals' manager acknowledged in today's pregame press conference, while maintaining that he has confidence in today's starter, 26-year-old '07 1st Round pick Ross Detwiler, who is, of course, a lefty.
"Left-handers have trouble with the ballclub," Johnson said, "We're in a situation where if Det has a problem I can go to [Jordan] Zimmermann earlier." Zimmermann, Nats' 26-year-old right-hander, who threw 63 pitches in 3.0 IP against the Cards in a Game 2 loss, is available out of the pen, but as Johnson admitted, "There's not a gameplan, a really good game plan for when you don't get a good start from your starters."
If the Nationals get to a Game 5 by winning today, 21-game winner Gio Gonzalez, another lefty, is lined up to pitch his second career postseason game. The 27-year-old former Oakland A's starter told reporters this morning that he believes in Detwiler's ability to get them to a fifth game with the Cardinals.
"Ross has been great for us all year," Gonzalez told reporters, "The guy has been doing his job, his part. He got us 10 good wins this year. He's been unbelievable for us. I have all the confidence in the world that he's going to be a pretty good pitcher, in fact, better than we expect in the near future. He's a guy that's been unbelievable for us, and we feel very confident that he's going to do an extremely good job for us."
"[Detwiler] is going to go out there and try to give us whatever he can," Gonzalez said. But it's up to the whole team to make sure they play again tomorrow in the D.C. "There's no pressure on the guy, he's our guy right now. We just want him to go out and give us five or six good innings."
"We have to [make] the statement right off the bat that there will be a Game 5," Gonzalez said.
The Nationals are prepared, according to their manager, to throw just about everything they can at the Cardinals today. In discussing what his starter and hitters have to do to win, the Nats' skipper said it's simple, "You have to use all your weapons when you're facing a good club and when you get to this time of year, all the clubs are good and balanced offensively, defensively, pitching. You have to make adjustments to be successful."
Davey Johnson said he thought his team had the right mentality heading into Game 4 with St. Louis. "They have that mindset," Johnson said, "Take nothing for granted. And we don't feel like we're out of this, not by a long shot. Believe me."
The Nationals and Davey Johnson will do just about anything they can to make sure they win the game this afternoon. "Just about" anything though. Asked if Gio Gonzalez would be available if necessary, Johnson defiantly said, "No. I need him for tomorrow's game."
Nats' Lineup For Game 4 vs St. Louis:
#Nationals NLDS Game 4 lineup vs. STL - Werth 9, Harper 8, Zimmerman 5, LaRoche 3, Morse 7, Desmond 6, Espinosa 4, Suzuki 2, Detwiler 1— Nationals PR (@NationalsPR) October 11, 2012