Coming into Sunday’s game against the Reds it could be argued that Ross Detwiler had been the Nats best starters, or at least one of them, as his 1.38 April ERA was among the tops in the NL. As they say in baseball, all things eventually regress to their mean, and Detwiler would have his first rough outing of the season. In the first inning he would get Choo to strikeout, before falling behind the next three hitters and giving up three straight base hits. All the balls were hard hit, but Cozart’s single ticked off of Espinosa’s glove, and Votto’s double just found chalk.
This is how it would go all day for the Nats and Ross Detwiler. Before the day was over Detwiler would give up 4 runs on 11 hits and 10 would be singles with more than a few of them having some luck tied to them. Take for instance Detwiler’s fourth inning in which he allowed his fourth and final run of the afternoon. Corky Miller would lead off the inning with a weak infield single that just happened to land where no fielder could reach it. After a sac bunt and a ground out moved him to third he would score on a Cozart single.
Against a line-up as good as the Reds when luck is not on your side and you’re falling behind in the count it is not going to be a good day. The three earned runs over five innings is the most Detwiler has allowed this season, but that is the type of performance more typical for a bottom of the rotation starter even on a good team. The Nats rotation needs Strasburg and Gio to remain on the track they have just gotten back on while the offense comes around.
Speaking of offense the Nats did have a couple of opportunities in this game. In the fourth inning Denard Span reached base on a strikeout wild pitch and Espinosa followed him with the Nats first hit of the afternoon, a double. With a runner on third and less than two out Cingrani found a different gear. For most of the afternoon he had been sitting 92 and suddenly he was touching 96. Harper didn’t help the Nats by attempting to bunt on an 0-1 pitch with the third baseman back and then swinging at a high fastball 0-2 to strikeout. Werth would draw a walk to load the bases, but both Desmond and LaRoche would strikeout to end the threat.
As the bottom of the next inning began it looked as if reaching back had effected Cingrani as he was suddenly at 88 and having more trouble locating, but he got better as the inning went along and on the day held the Nats to no runs on two hits with one walk and 11 strikeouts. It is the third impressive performance by another team’s top pitching prospect against the Nats. It is hard for hitters to have a book on a guy when they have never seen them but it is even harder when that guy has plus plus stuff like Harvey, Miller, and Cingrani.
The Nats played tighter defense against the Cardinals, the offense had its moments against the Reds, the starting pitching was great, and the bullpen allowed a grand total of one earned run. Play like this is what Nationals fans expected when the season started and if it continues in Atlanta and Pittsburgh it will start to be reflected in the Nationals record.