The Washington Nationals' 2-0 win in Chase Field in Arizona on Saturday guaranteed that Davey Johnson would remain at least 301 games over .500 for his career as a manager. The veteran of 17 seasons as a skipper is now 1372-1070. Johnson took the goal of remaining 300 games over .500 so seriously that he'd asked Gio Gonzalez to consider coming back for one more start on Sunday to pitch in the final game of the season if there was a chance of the Diamondbacks taking two of three. After Saturday's win, he said Gonzalez was off the hook.
"I scratched Gio," Johnson told reporters after an RBI groundout by Ryan Zimmerman and a home run by Chad Tracy gave the Nationals a 2-0 lead and their 86th win. "It's going to be [Tanner] Roark. [Gio's] probably real happy about that. He's probably real upset he doesn't get 200 innings and whatever. But he was sure grinning a lot." The 70-year-old skipper said he was once again moved by the team's everyday players' excitement about going out and getting him a win in the next-to-last game of the 2013 campaign.
"Those guys are great and I think they were feeling it as much as I was and it was wonderful," Johnson said. "The effort was outstanding and I can't even put words on it. Tomorrow I'm going to play the young guys and some of the guys, their seasons are finished, they battled hard, I really thanked them a lot for all the effort and I know they're in a good place going forward. So I feel good about it."
Davey's Lineup, Sun. @ ARI/G162: Kobernus lf, Rendon 3b, Werth rf, Moore 1b, Walters ss, Lombardozzi 2b, Solano c, Perez cf, Roark rhp.— Nationals PR (@NationalsPR) September 29, 2013
The Nationals' skipper was also happy that 33-year-old right-hander Dan Haren was able to end his 2013 season with a win which he threw seven scoreless innings against the D-Backs. "Haren pitched an unbelievable ballgame," Johnson said. "He's done that quite a bit this second half." Haren finished his 11th major league campaign at (10-14) with a 4.67 ERA, a 4.08 FIP, 28 HRs (1.49 HR/9), 31 BB (1.64 BB/9) and 151 Ks (8.01 K/9) in 30 starts and 169 2/3 IP, but as the Nats' noted on Twitter after the game, he posted a 3.29 ERA over 15 starts once he returned from a late-June/early-July DL stint.
"For him to get 10 wins after all he's been through with arm issues and the struggles and he pitched a magnificent ballgame," Johnson said. As for whether or not Dan Haren's shown enough in the second half for his manager to think he can contribute to whatever team he pitches for next season, Johnson said he was confident that Haren wasn't done as a major league starter just yet.
"Oh, no question he's still got," Johnson said, "I mean, I love his demeanor. I love his professionalism. He knows what he wants to do and he goes out and does it. He makes very few mistakes when he's right. And he's fun to watch." After Haren, Drew Storen threw an eight-pitch, 1-2-3 eighth. In the ninth, Rafael Soriano threw a 26-pitch inning in which he gave up a one-out single and walk before recording the final two outs for his 43rd save.
Asked if he was "wistful" going into his final game as the Nationals' manager on Sunday, Johnson said that he was just tired out. "I'm cooked," he joked. "It's such a great group of guys and they battled so hard and they were feeling for me too. And Soriano had to make it hard on me, but the outcome was great."
• AUDIO: Nats Nightly w/ Dave Nichols from the District Sports Page: