After Wednesday's 8-0 loss to St. Louis, Davey Johnson was asked by reporters if he would consider going with Gio Gonzalez on short rest in a win-or-go-home Game 4, but the 69-year-old skipper said it wasn't something he'd consider. The Washington National's manager had faith in 26-year-old '07 1st Round pick Ross Detwiler and he said so. "We have two more ballgames," Johnson said, making one over several not-so-subtle nods to the fact that there would be a Game 5, "Det's capable of pitching a good game tomorrow. That's been our strength all year. These young guys have pitched great all year. [We] need a couple more good-pitched games this series."
"Detwiler has certainly got the stuff to pitch a good game," Johnson said, "He's pitched some quality games this year. So look forward to tomorrow." Confident as the Nationals' manager was, however, Johnson made clear Thursday morning that he knew St. Louis hit left-handed pitching well, so he would have Jordan Zimmermann ready should the need arise. With the season on the line, the Nats' skipper had his no.2 starter in the pen as a contingency plan. "We're in a situation that if Det has a problem, I would got to [Zimmermann] earlier," Johnson said, but he wasn't entertaining the possibility that the Nationals would let this one get away.
Asked again about the availability of Gio Gonzalez should the need arise, Johnson reiterated that the 21-game winner was not available. "I need him for [Friday's] game," the Nats' manager said, "If I throw everything but the kitchen sink in here, I may not have a chance tomorrow. Gio is going to pitch Game 5."
Gonzalez too was confident that Detwiler would get the Nationals to a Game 5. "I think [Detwiler] is going to do an extremely good job for us," the Nats' lefty said, "Especially with a team like this that's a power-hitting team, and, you know, he has a power fastball. So we'll see how it goes..."
Whether they were just expressing confidence and trying to bolster Detwiler's, or honestly believed in the left-hander's ability to get the job done, the Nats' no.4 starter rewarded their faith with his performance on the mound Thursday night. 6.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 2 Ks. Davey Johnson did eventually turn to Jordan Zimmermann but only after Detwiler had thrown 104 pitches to a Cardinals team that had knocked Gonzalez, Zimmermann and Edwin Jackson around in Games 1-3.
"I tell you," Davey Johnson said after Detwiler's outing, three hitless innings, one each by Zimmermann, Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen and Jayson Werth's walkoff winner, "I was so proud of [Detwiler]. He pitched. He didn't start the game overthrowing. He pitched. He used his -- in crucial spots, he used his changeup for a good strike. Used his curveball. Went in and out. He was just totally in control against a good-hitting ballclub. It was great. Fun watching."
"He made pitches when he had to," Johnson continued, "You know in a big game like that, normally I'd hold him at around 90 pitches, somewhere in that area, and I guess he threw about 100. But he was outstanding. Unbelievable. Won the game for us."
Jayson Werth, who literally won the game for the Nationals, was equally effusive in his praise for Detwiler's work on the mound. When a reporter mentioned all of the scrutiny Detwiler had received heading into the start and the talk of the Nationals having to rely on the 26-year-old left-hander instead of another unavailable starter whose name has been mentioned often during the NLDS, the Nats' walk-off hero said he too had faith that Detwiler could get the job done. "Yeah, [the] media can say whatever they want. We know the type of guy Ross is and what he brings to the team. I said yesterday, I felt good about where we were at. I felt like Ross would handle his business and we have Gio going tomorrow."
"Ball's in our court," Werth continued, "We've got a chance to win the series tomorrow. What a difference a day makes." The Nationals showed faith in Detwiler. Davey Johnson put him back in the rotation late in 2011, put him in the rotation at the end of Spring Training and stuck with him throughout the 2012 campaign. Last night in Game 4 of the NLDS, the Nats' manager's faith in the left-hander was rewarded. There will be a Game 5 tonight in the nation's capital.