A defiant-till-the-end Davey Johnson talked before this series in Busch Stadium in St. Louis about standing up to the Cardinals who knocked them out of last October's NLDS and possibly altering the landscape of the NL Central in the last week of the regular season even though they'd been eliminated from contention for their second postseason berth. Washington did that to some degree. By dropping three straight to the Cards and six of six between the two teams this season, the Nationals certainly helped the Cardinals solidify their position as the no.1 team in their division. That probably wasn't what the Nats' 70-year-old skipper meant. And he wasn't happy about the sweep in St. Louis either, as he made clear in his postgame press conference following today's 4-1 loss.
"I'll tell ya," Johnson said after the third straight loss, "they just kicked our butt. Just about every aspect of the game, they beat up on us. And I tip my hat to them, [Mike] Matheny has done a good job over there. I wish him luck. They kind of had their way with us. I thought [Jordan Zimmermann] pitched a pretty good ballgame, kept us in there, but we had three runs, no runs, one run [in the three losses]. Kind of tough."
Jordan Zimmermann, in his last start of the season, fell short in his bid for 20 wins, which would have made him the first D.C.-based right-hander to win twenty since Bob Porterfield in 1953, but the 27-year-old right-hander ended a strong campaign with seven innings of work in which he gave up six hits and four earned runs. On the year, the '07 2nd Round pick finished (19-9) with a 3.25 ERA, a 3.35 FIP, 40 walks (1.69 BB/9) and 161 Ks (6.79 K/9) in 32 starts and 213 1/3 IP in which he allowed 19 HRs (0.80 HR/9).
Davey Johnson was asked if the right-hander had exceeded expectations this season? "No doubt about it," Johnson said. "He's a great pitcher and he had a great year. I feel bad for him that we didn't score more runs and at least make it a contest, give him a chance to win, but maybe next year."
As for the Cards' dominance of the Nats this season, Johnson reiterated that he had wanted to prove something this week. "I kept my regular lineup in there because I wanted us to stand up and show them we're better," Johnson told reporters, "but we couldn't do that. You can say we're out of it and all that, but there's a certain amount of pride that comes in when you play these kinds of games. They're still in it. And there's a lot riding on it for them, and it's always, this club is used to being the spoiler, but we didn't play that well and it upsets me a little bit because I wanted to beat them bad."
"I'll leave it up for grabs in Arizona," Johnson said heading into the last series of the season with the Diamondbacks this weekend. "If the guys have had enough or whatever, I'll go with some rookies, but this was the series we had to show that we're the Washington Nationals, we're a hell of a ballclub."
As for what's currently setting the Cardinals apart from the Nationals, Johnson explained that the Cards have a bit more experience at this point. "They're a little more veteran-type players," the Nats' skipper said. "You lead by example and a lot of the guys on the field lead by example. They manhandled us without, arguably, their best hitter in the lineup. We'll regroup. We're a heck of an organization, a heck of a ballclub, we'll come back next year, but I wanted to get a little statement here, but unfortunately were weren't able to do that."
"We chase balls out of the zone all day long and these guys don't," Johnson continued. "They're more disciplined. And we need to learn from that. It's kind of learning experience. If you want to be a really great ballclub, you learn from your failures as well as you learn from your successes and today, this whole series was a good example of that."
More from Federal Baseball:
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