“He sets a good example.” Davey Johnson on Bryce Harper’s hustle.
The Washington Nationals formula for success has been consistent so far this season: strong pitching and timely hitting leading to wins. Last night was no different, as four Nats pitchers limited the Arizona Diamondbacks to three hits. On offense, a pair of doubles in the sixth inning provided the winning margin and the Nats secured a series victory with a 2-1 win, pushing their N.L. East leading record to 16-9.
Manager Davey Johnson rearranged his lineup for this one, first on purpose then due to a late scratch. Johnson inserted Bryce Harper into the third spot in his batting order and Chad Tracy at first base when Adam LaRoche was scratched due to soreness in his right oblique, an injury sustained when he dove to his right for a ball recently, according to Johnson after the game.
The move putting Harper higher in the order paid off as the 19-year old rookie, playing in his fifth game, delivered the game-winning hit, lacing a 3-2 change-up into the left field corner for a double, plating Ian Desmond who doubled two batters earlier.
Harper has looked anything like a rookie thus far, and Johnson’s decision to slot him third might have been a message to his team, the league — and perhaps even his general manager — that this kid is where he belongs. Harper coming through in the clutch made Johnson look like a genius.
“They pitched him tough, they threw him a 3-2 change-up,” Johnson said of his prized pupil. “He’s a good looking young hitter. Good looking hitter, period. Gotta quit using ‘young’.”
Detwiler pitched another heck of a ballgame. Before being lifted with one out in the seventh. the left-hander had allowed just three hits and three walks, striking out two. He threw 92 pitches, 63 for strikes.
“Det pitched on heck of a ballgame,” Johnson said. “That’s a good hitting ball club. He made quality pitches. I was really impressed with Det.”
“He was my star of the game.”
The Nats got on board first with an early run. Jayson Werth led off the second inning with a double and Chad Tracy walked behind him. Diamondbacks starter Ian Kennedy balked the pair up a base and after a Danny Espinosa strikeout (0-for-3, 2 Ks), Werth came home on a ground out by Rick Ankiel.
Arizona tied the game in the top of the sixth. Detwiler issued a one-out walk to Dbacks leadoff hitter Willie Bloomquist and the Arizona shortstop scored on an Aaron Hill double, just out of reach of the diving Werth in right center field.
But the Nats came right back in the bottom of the frame. Ian Desmond led off with a double and took second on a sacrifice bunt by Steve Lombardozzi. Harper then laced a double down the left field line which scored Desmond easily. It was just a No. 3 hitter doing what a No. 3 hitter is supposed to do.
THE GOOD: Detwiler. He didn’t have the strikeout pitch working, but Arizona had a tough time making solid contact. Kept his team in the game even though, on again, they didn’t have much offense until late.
THE BAD: Wilson Ramos was 0-for-3 with a strikeout and comebacker. Tough night against a tough pitcher.
THE UGLY: Danny Espinosa. He continues his slide, going 0-for-3 with two more strikeouts.
THE STATS: 4 hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. 1-for-8 with RISP, 3 LOB, 1 GIDP. No errors.
NEXT GAME: Friday at 7:05 against the Philadelphia Philles. Stephen Strasburg (2-0, 1.13) hosts Kyle Kendrick (0-2, 6.59).