When 26-year-old Washington Nationals' lefty Ross Detwiler struggled on the mound in an August 22nd start against Atlanta, giving up seven hits and two runs in 5.2 IP before he was lifted with two runners on in the sixth, Nats' skipper Davey Johnson said it was a matter of the 6'5'' sinkerballer relying too much on his fastball. "Det had an explosive fastball," Davey Johnson explained, "The only problem, he didn't use his other pitches, he just used his fastball. The second time around he was also getting the ball up. But he did have an unbelievably good fastball. When he stayed down he was pretty much overmatching. But you've still got to use your other pitches."
When a reporter noted that the Nats had previously praised Detwiler's ability to get outs using nothing but his sinking mid-90's heater, the Nationals' 69-year-old manager noted that though Detwiler relied on his fastball, "You still have to have a curve ball and a changeup. I think he might have thrown four. Because good hitters keep seeing one pitch, I don't care how good it is, eventually you're going to get hit. And when I guess he got a little bit tired too, where he was trying to hump up, the ball got up and he started getting hit."
Last night it was more of the same in Citizens Bank Park. Detwiler 35 pitches in the first two innings, all but one a fastball (four-seam or sinker). Rookie Phillies' outfielder Darin Ruf connected with a full-count fastball in the second and sent a solo home run (his 1st) to left-center to tie the game at 1-1 a half-inning after Washington took an early lead. The second time around in the Phillies' lineup in the third, Detwiler struggled with his control, walking the first two batters on nine pitches and then surrendering an RBI single and a three-run home run when Ryan Howard took an 0-2 fastball to right and Carlos Ruiz took a 2-0 sinker out to left.
After the rough start to the third, Detwiler recovered to retire nine straight before he was replaced on the mound in the seventh. "A lot of times he'll start a game and just want to use one pitch," Davey Johnson told reporters after the game, "And overthrows it a little bit. And today when he wasn't locating that's the result." The Nats managed to knock Cole Hamels out early, (5.0 IP/99P) but the deficit Detwiler put the team in proved too much to overcome as the Phillies' bullpen allowed just one hit over four scoreless in what ended up a 6-3 Philly win.
"I don't think [Hamels] had his best stuff either," Johnson said, "But like I said, he's a young pitcher and this is a learning process you've got to go through with Det. He'll be all right. After the first couple innings he settled down and started using his pitches and it was easier for him."
The loss left the Nationals with a (4-6) record over their last ten as they try to lock down their first division crown. The Nats' manager wasn't too concerned with the loss last night in Philadelphia, however, explaining that as he sees it, "We've just got to win tomorrow. We lost a battle today. We've got to win a battle tomorrow if we want to win the war." The Phillies aren't going to make it easy. The win last night by Philadelphia guaranteed that Philly fans wouldn't suffer the indignity of having to watch the Nationals clinch in Citizens Bank.