Davey Johnson was pleased with the 4.1 innings and 85 pitches he got out of Nathan Karns in the 25-year-old right-hander's MLB debut last week at home in D.C. in a rain-delayed start against Baltimore. The Washington Nationals 2009 12th Round pick battled against a potent Orioles' offense for four innings, but left the game in the fifth after putting two runners on. "First start against a good-hitting ballclub. I know he was nervous, but I like the way he went after the hitters," Johnson told reporters after the game. With Ross Detwiler still unavailable with an oblique issue, the Nats' skipper said the debuting starter had done enough to earn himself another start, which he'll make in Atlanta, Georgia's Turner Field this afternoon.
Summing the outing up, the 70-year-old manager reiterated what he said about Karns' approach, even against the intimidating O's. "I thought basically he went after the hitters," Johnson said, "I was glad to see him going after them and he showed a good changeup and good little curve ball." He also had a mid-90's heater. Johnson said he has the stuff to pitch at the major league level. "It'll play up here. And he should be proud of what he did. That's a hot-hitting ballclub."
D.C. GM Mike Rizzo was even more effusive in his praise when he talked about Karns' major league debut with hosts Holden Kushner and Danny Rouhier on the eponymous "Mike Rizzo Show" on 106.7 the FAN in D.C. the morning after the game.
"I thought he was tremendous," the Nats' general manager said. "He ran out of gas there in the fourth. Davey was talking about keeping him between 80-90 pitches anyways just because -- in Double A he's gone over 100 pitches -- but when you get brought up to the big leagues, everything is like microwaved. The pitch counts and the excitement level, the anxiety level. So, he was gassed, it was a hot, humid day, he had to wait an hour and a half longer to get his start... again, a lot of stressful pitches against an extremely good hitting lineup and he showed the stuff, poise [and] command of the stuff that led us to give him that opportunity and take that start and because he pitched well he earned another start."
"It was a great day for the entire organization," Rizzo continued. "You talk about a late draft, a 12th Round, had surgery, was rehabbed by our rehab coordinators down in Viera, was developed by our pitching coaches down in the minor leagues. It's a proud day when those kind of stories get to the mound at Nats Park and really throw a nice ballgame for us."
• Here's the lineup that will help Karns try to beat the Atlanta Braves this afternoon in Turner Field in Karns' second major league start:
Today's lineup at ATL: Span CF, Lombardozzi LF, Zimmerman 3B, LaRoche 1B, Desmond SS, Moore RF, Espinosa 2B, Solano C, Karns P— Nationals PR (@NationalsPR) June 2, 2013
1:35 pm EST from Turner Field today for the series finale with the Braves.