When 30-year-old, six-year veteran Doug Fister spoke to reporters on Sunday about taking the mound in Monday's must-win Game 3 of the NLDS with the San Francisco Giants in AT&T Park, he said he would approach it like every other start he's made in the regular season.
"We definitely have to treat it as a regular start," Fister explained.
"You can't all of a sudden change your plan or your routine or anything else. For me, I really tend to try and block out as much of the exterior influences that can occur, whether it's fans, whether it's media, whatever it may be. You know, I try and go about my day the same as I have for the last six months, whatever it is.
"When it comes time to get up on the mound and play in front of whatever it is, 45,000, 50,000 people, I tend to take a second, step off the mound, look around, soak it in and then let it go and get back to business.
"It's really just a mind‑set."
Fister took the mound in front of 43,627 fans in the Giants' home last night and threw seven scoreless innings on 99 pitches, giving up just four hits and three walks to help keep the Nationals' 2014 campaign alive after they dropped the first two games of the best-of-five series this past weekend in the nation's capital.
San Francisco lefty Madison Bumgarner held the Nats off the board through six scoreless, but an ill-advised throw to third on a bunt by Wilson Ramos in the seventh cost the Giants' starter two runs and the Nationals added another on an RBI single by Asdrubal Cabrera.
Ian Desmond singled to start the top of the seventh and Bryce Harper took the only walk Bumgarner issued before Ramos was called upon to bunt, and both scored on the errant throw.
Should the Giants' lefty have taken the out the Nationals were giving him and gone to first?
"He tried to do a little too much there on the bunt," Bruce Bochy told reporters after the game. "You know, you take the out. He tried to rush it. He threw it away.
"He threw it away well, too," Bochy joked.
"In a game like that, that's probably going to cost you, which it did. He pitched great. That was not a good decision, and sure, you wish you could have it back and just get the out there."
Fister avoided any big mistakes like the one Bumgarner made, and managed, after struggling with his command early, to settle in and set the Giants down with help from his defense.
While the first-year National, acquired from the Detroit Tigers this winter, told FOXSports.com's Jon Morosi that he was a little amped up before he did settle in, Nats' skipper Matt Williams said he liked what he saw from Fister from the start.
"I don't know, I thought he was throwing it where he wanted to throw it," Williams said. "I don't think he was missing‑‑ if he was missing, it was just by a little bit. I thought he had good command all day.
"The fact that he was able to get deep in the game is kind of indicative of him having his command. Yeah, he was fine. I didn't see anything other than him being perfectly comfortable out there from the first inning on."
By the time he was done with his seven innings of work in San Francisco, Fister was up to 18 ⅔ scoreless innings on the mound going back to last few innings of the first of back-to-back starts against the Miami Marlins that ended the regular season for the veteran righty.
There were a few close calls and hard hit balls in San Francisco, with Bryce Harper making leaping and shoestring catches in left field, and Wilson Ramos throwing out a runner to help Fister keep the Giants off the board.
Brandon Crawford flew to deep left with two on and one out in the second, but Harper tracked it to the wall and made a leaping grab.
After Brandon Belt singled with one down in the fourth, he was thrown out on what looked like a botched hit and run with Crawford at the plate.
With a runner on second and one out in the seventh, the Nats' 20-year-old left fielder made the shoestring catch to rob Travis Ishikawa of a potential gapper.
Fister struck out three, induced nine ground ball outs and held the Giants in check until the error put the Nationals ahead.
Harper, after helping out on defense, put the Nats ahead 4-0 with a solo home run in the top of the ninth and the Nats held on for a 4-1 win. Fister earned his fifth straight win.
"Doug pitched great," Williams added. "He was in command all day with everything. You know, he just continues to compete for us, and we were able to manufacture something there. Both sides of the diamond, the offense, wasn't there today, but we were able to get a couple guys on and lay down a bunt and that was the difference."
Fister impressed the Giants' veteran skipper as well, snapping Bochy and the Giants' streak of ten-straight postseason wins.
"He's had a good year," Bochy said. "He's won 16 games for a reason. Commands the ball well, four pitches. You've got to hopefully take advantage of any chances you get. And like I said, Crawford's ball, I thought was going to get in there, but after that, he settled in. He's got very good command. Doesn't beat himself. Doesn't walk guys. Heels runners. And he was on top of his game."
Did Fister's outing and the Nationals' win change the momentum in the series after the Nats dropped Games 1 and 2?
"We find ourselves in the same position we were today," Williams said.
"If we lose tomorrow, then it's all over. So you know, we're in the same spot. You know, we've got an opportunity to win that game tomorrow. So we have to do things correctly like we did today."
It's Gio Gonzalez vs Ryan Vogelsong in Game 4 on Tuesday at 9:00 PM in AT&T. Can the Nationals send the series back to D.C.?
• We talked about the Nationals keeping the season alive with Monday's win, Fister's outing and Harper's big day on last night's edition of Nats Nightly: