Davey Johnson was not happy with the Washington Nationals' offense after the last game in which they faced Colorado Rockies' left-hander Jeff Francis in Coors Field on July 25, 2012. Francis held the Nats' batters to five hits and two runs that day in a 4-2 Nationals' loss on the road. "We just didn't do anything against [Francis]," a frustrated Johnson told reporters, "He threw a lot of off speed pitches to us. Our approach wasn't very good. Just got to get something going here."
"I think we're getting caught in between," Johnson explained when asked what was behind the offensive issues which had the then-41-30 Nationals at .238/.304/.387 overall as a team after seventy-one games last summer.
"We're getting caught in between fastballs and breaking balls and we're chasing out of the zone," the Nats' then-69-year-old skipper explained, "We've got some more veteran hitters that are doing the same thing, but the younger guys are more guilty. But our approach has just got to improve."
"I think we might be over-thinking it a little bit," Davey Johnson mused, "That's something I'm going to address with the group and go into some of these meetings when we look at pitchers and how we're going to approach them. Because our approach is not that great as far as I'm concerned."
"And Francis is featuring basically an 84 mph fastball," the Nats' manager continued, obviously annoyed, "a little changeup and slow hook... we've just got too much talent not to be swinging the bats better."
Heading into today's game, the 32-32 Nationals had a combined .235/.293/.374 line after 64 games, good for 13th in AVG, 13th in OBP and 13th of 15 in SLG in the National League. Against left-handers it was even worse. A .209/.278/.309 line against LHP had the Nats 15th, 15th and 15th in the NL after 64 games.
This afternoon in Coors Field, in the finale of the three-game set in Colorado, Jeff Francis retired the Nationals in order in an 11-pitch opening frame. Dexter Fowler doubled to right on the first pitch Ross Detwiler threw in the bottom of the first after Detwiler came off a DL stint today that had him on the sidelines since May 15th. A groundout and an RBI single by Tyler Colvin followed to put the Rockies up 1-0 early, but Carlos Gonzalez was injured in the process when he took a foul ball off the ankle in the on-deck circle off Jordan Pacheco's bat before Pacheco's groundout advanced Fowler to third. Carlos Gonzalez left the game and was replaced by Colvin, who picked up a bat and knocked a run in. 18-pitch first for Ross Detwiler, 1-0 Colorado after one.
Ian Desmond was 20 for 57 in the last 15 games after he extended his current hit streak to 15-straight with a two-out opposite field single off Jeff Francis in the top of the second. Desmond then went first-to-third™ when Anthony Rendon did the same, lining to right off the Rockies' lefty, but Kurt Suzuki grounded into a force at second to end a 19-pitch second by the Rockies' starter. Nolan Arenado singled to right with one down in the bottom of the second, but Ross Detwiler got some help from his D on a well-turned, inning-ending 6-4-3 DP off DJ LeMahieu's bat. 12-pitch inning, 30 overall after two for the Nats' lefty.
Ross Detwiler picked up a bat and singled to right to start the Nationals' third. Two outs later, however, he was still standing on first when Ryan Zimmerma-- THE KIDS CALL HIM ZIM!! THE KIDS CALL HIM ZIM!!! Ryan Zimmerman hit a two-run home run to left on a 2-0 fastball from Jeff Francis and made it 2-1 Nationals after two and a half in Coors Field. Zimmerman's 7th. Dexter Fowler was bunting with one down in the Rockies' third when he was hit on the hand by a fastball inside. The umpires ruled it a HBP in spite of Davey Johnson's objections and awarded Fowler a base. Ross Detwiler got Jordan Pacheco looking with an 0-2 fastball for out no.2 though, and got a groundout to second from Tyler Colvin that Anthony Rendon handled to end an 18-pitch third with Detwiler at 48 pitches overall.
Ian Desmond was 2 for 2 today and 21 for 58 over the course of his 15-game hit streak after he singled through short to start the Nationals' fourth. Two outs later he was left on base, however, as Jeff Francis completed a 14-pitch fourth at 68 pitches. Troy Tulowitzki singled to left to start the fourth with the Rockies' fourth hit off Ross Detwiler. The fifth hit was a double to right by Michael Cuddyer that Jayson Werth misplayed. Werth tracked till he hit the warning track dirt, then pulled up as the ball bounced off the base of the wall and back onto the right field grass. 2-2 game when Tulowitzki scored and 3-2 when a Wilin Rosario groundout in the next at bat brought Cuddyer home from third. 3-2 Rockies after four. 18-pitch inning. 66 overall for Ross Detwiler.
After a 14-pitch, 1-2-3 top of the fifth, Jeff Francis was at 82 pitches overall and Ross Detwiler was quickly back on the mound. A grounder to third, grounder to second and fly to center ended a quick, 11-pitch, 1-2-3 5th that had Detwiler at 77 overall after five as Craig Stammen warmed in the visitor's bullpen. Jeff Francis got a weak grounder to second with a 68 mph 2-2 curve to Ryan Zimmerman in the first at bat of the sixth. Jayson Werth K'd looking and Adam LaRoche grounded to first and the Rockies' left-hander was through a 15-pitch, 1-2-3 sixth having set down 10 of the last 11 batters he faced after Ryan Zimmerman's two-out third inning home run. 3-2 Rockies in the sixth...
Ross Detwiler's Line: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 2 Ks, 77 P, 51 S, 9/0 GO/FO
Craig Stammen took over on the mound for the Nationals in the Rockies' sixth and retired the home team in order in an 11-pitch, seven-strike bottom of the inning.
Ian Desmond was 3 for 3 today and 22 for 59 over the course of his 15 games after he sliced an opposite field single to right off reliever Wilton Lopez in the top of the seventh. Anthony Rendon popped to center unproductively for out no.1. Desmond stole his sixth base as Kurt Suzuki K'd swinging for out no.2. A balk by Wilton Lopez moved Desmond to third with Steve Lombardozzi at the plate and another balk brought Desmond home. 3-3 ballgame. Balkin Bob Davidson strikes again, on the second balk that is, HP ump James Hoye had the first. And a weak groundout to first by Lombardozzi followed to further frustrate Wilton Lopez, who got tossed on his way off the field.
Craig Stammen walked pinch-hitting pitcher Jhoulys Chacin with two down in the Rockies' seventh. A single by Jonathan Herrera put two on for Jordan Pacheco, earning Stammen a chat with the Cat. Pacheco grounded out to his counterpart at third, however, and it was tied at 3-3 after seven in Coors Field after Ryan Zimmerman stepped on third base.
Roger Bernadina lined to left-center with one down in the eighth and turned on the jets or whatever it is Sharks do to accelerate as he sped around the bases and took second for a hustle double. Ryan Zimmerman went the other way with a 1-0 fastball from Rockies' righty Matt Belisle in the next at bat and the second straight double was an RBI hit that brought Bernadina around to make it 4-3 Nationals in the eighth. Zimmerman took third on a Jayson Werth groundout. A walk to Adam LaRoche brought Ian Desmond up and an infield single brought in the Nationals' fifth run. 5-3 D.C. 4 for 4 for Desmond today. 23 for 60 over the last 15. Anthony Rendon walked to load the bases for Kurt Suzuki whose groundout to second ended the Nats' eighth.
Xavier Cedeno took over on the mound for the Nationals in the Rockies' eighth. Tyler Colvin grounded back to the mound to end an eight-pitch at bat. Drew Storen took over against pinch hitter Yorvit Torrealba, who popped to Ian Desmond behind short for out no.2 and Michael Cuddyer grounded to third to end the eighth.
Rex Brothers retired the Nationals in order in the top of the ninth. "Pitch it, Soriano! Pitch it, Soriano! Strike him out, Soriano! Strike him out, Soriano!" Rafael Soriano came out in the bottom of the ninth looking for save no.17 of 2013. Wilin Rosario K'd swinging! ONE! Nolan Arenado lined to left with one down, bringing the tying run to the plate in the form of DJ LeMahieu. A 2-2 fastball outside was called strike three on LeMahieu for out no.2. TWO!! Pinch hitter Todd Helton stepped in with a runner on and two out and went down 0-2 quickly... but lined to center for an RBI single. 5-4 Nationals. Jonathan Herrera? Pop to short. Ballgame. 5-4 Nationals.
Work's done! Untuck that jersey, son!
Nationals now 33-32