It took 24-year-old Washington Nationals' right-hander Taylor Jordan six starts to do it, but the 2009 9th Round pick out of Merritt Island, FL earned his first major league win this afternoon in the Nats' 14-1 win over the New York Mets in the finale of the four-game set in the nation's capital. It wasn't a typical outing for Jordan, who's developed a reputation for being a ground ball machine, but he held the Mets in check and completed six scoreless on 87 pitches, giving up five hits, one walk and one run while striking out a career-high seven batters and inducing just three ground ball outs.
Nationals' manager Davey Johnson said afterwards that pitching coach Steve McCatty was no doubt happy with what he saw from the Nats' right-handed rookie. McCatty had a bit of a health scare before the game and was taken to the hospital with what the Nationals' 70-year-old skipper told reporters after the game was high blood pressure and an irregular heart rate.
"His blood pressure went way up," Johnson explained, "and heart rate started going irregular. I know all about it." If McCatty was watching, he had to be impressed with another strong start by Jordan.
great team win today. Thanks to my teammates and fans for making this day special and the #nats organization for believing in me.— Taylor Jordan (@TaylorJordan38) July 28, 2013
"I don't think [Jordan] was as sharp as he was last time out," Johnson said. "But he threw awful good and made pitches when he had to. And the slider keeps getting better." Jordan faced the Mets for the second time this season, the first time he's seen a team twice early in his career, and his manager said it was a positive sign that he had such a good outing.
"It gives you a good read on how your stuff is," Johnson told reporters, "they know what you throw and still don't hit you."
Jordan had all the run support he could ask for as well. The Nationals' hitters knocked Mets' starter Carlos Torres around, connecting for nine hits and eight runs before they knocked him out after three innings. Wilson Ramos and Bryce Harper hit RBI singles in the second to get the Nats out to a 3-0 lead. Ryan Zimmerman was 2 for 2 on two pitches after he doubled in the second and he scored on an Ian Desmond single. One batter later, Ramos stepped in with the bases loaded and hit his first career grand slam to make it an 8-0 lead.
Jayson Werth and Denard Span hit RBI singles in the fourth to make it 9-1, and after another RBI single by Desmond in the sixth, Denard Span hit his second home run in two days and just his second of the season to make it 13-0 Nationals.
"[Zimmerman] hit the first -- he saw two pitches [and was] 2 for 2," Johnson said, "That's never happened before since I've been here, but it's just being more aggressive." Span too. Denard Span went 4 for 4 with three RBIs and three runs scored. "He's swinging the bat a lot better," Johnson told reporters. "He's also getting a little more aggressive." Span moved to the seventh spot in the order recently, and the Nats' manager said it's made a difference.
"I think in the leadoff spot, you kind of want to make the pitcher work a lot, [and] it helps all the hitters behind him," Johnson explained. "But I think your on-base percentage always goes up if you show a pitcher you're going to hammer something when they try to get something down the middle early and get ahead. And he's been more aggressive on balls pretty much down the middle."
"He'll still take the borderline pitches," Johnson continued, "but I like his approach. And he's actually making contact out front more than even with it and rolling over it, so that's great."
The win today gave the Nationals four wins in their past five games after they dropped six straight to start their 11-game homestand. They finished the stretch of games in D.C. 4-7, but at least headed out on the road with a little momentum. "The talent is there," Johnson said, "I've never given up on the talent, it's just we need to start expressing it more often. And it hasn't just been the hitting. The pitching has been -- everything goes from the pitching, but our pitching hasn't been near as consistent from jump street as it was last year."
"Everything rolls off of pitching," Johnson concluded, "If you're getting a good pitched game, your offense is always more active, but when you're giving up runs early, it kind of puts a stifle on it. Everybody tries to be too fine. And I think the pitching is coming around and obviously the hitting is coming with it."
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