Ross Detwiler needed a win to cap his first year in the majors on a good note. For that to happen, Mike MacDougal would need to rebound from a 10th-inning loss — and a poor September in general — to save the victory for the rookie left-hander.
Rarely this season have two goals complemented each other so neatly in a Nationals victory as they did on Monday night, when both Detwiler and MacDougal found a measure of vindication in their 2-1 win over the Mets.
Detwiler, winless in 12 big-league starts before Monday, allowed one run in six innings, only being put in line for the win by Mike Morse’s third homer in as many days in the bottom of the sixth, after Detwiler had thrown his last pitch. MacDougal, who had an 11.25 ERA in September and allowed three runs in the 10th inning on Sunday, pitched a perfect ninth for the save.
“You talk to the ballclub, and you like to see them respond with good, clean baseball,” said interim manager Jim Riggleman, who had a pick-me-up meeting with MacDougal and pitching coach Steve McCatty earlier in the day. “If your starter goes out and does what Detwiler did today, it really makes it sink for everybody that, ‘Look, if we play clean baseball, maybe something good will happen.’ Detwiler made sure it did, as Bergie and Mike did also.”
Detwiler was bailed out by a few impressive defensive plays, like Ian Desmond’s grab of a hard liner in the fifth inning with runners on second and third. But he was strong all night, attacking the Mets’ lineup with a good fastball early and moving to a number of off-speed pitches for key outs later in the game.
“It feels great,” Detwiler said. “It kind of feels like I have some pressure off myself. It’s one for the record books.”
And MacDougal, who said he didn’t feel much different than he did on Sunday, nonetheless got a different result, inducing three quick groundouts for a 1-2-3 ninth.
“I felt pretty good yesterday,” MacDougal said. “I got ground balls. It didn’t seem to work out as well. But as far as anything different, maybe I attacked the zone a little better today.”
The Nats’ penultimate home game is tomorrow night at 7;05—J.D. Martin against Mike Pelfrey. Mark will have you covered for that one; I’ve got tickets for some shindig at FedEx Field. Enjoy.