Ross Detwiler hadn’t started a game in a month when he took the mound on Sunday afternoon in Baltimore. Since May 25, Detwiler had pitched out of the Nationals’ bullpen, where he toggled back and forth between relieving and starting since 2010.
He and his arm held up in his longest outing in weeks, holding the Orioles scoreless through five innings. He allowed only four singles, none of them hard hit. More importantly for the Nationals, he showed the aggressiveness that he had been lacking in his last few starts before being sent to the bullpen. He attacked hitters, needing only 39 pitches to get through the first three innings.
“It felt pretty good,” he said. “I felt like there were a lot of things I could have done better. Overall, in the beginning of the game I felt like I was getting ahead of hitters.”
In the fourth inning and fifth innings, Detwiler began to tail off some. He gave up singles to J.J. Hardy and Matt Wieters in the fourth, both hit to the left side and the type of contact Detwiler induces with his sinker. He was just unlucky that both hits found a hole.
In both innings, however, Detwiler walked a batter and looked visibly upset with home plate umpire David Rackley after each one, shouting into his glove. He worked out of both jams when he induced flyballs to the warning track for outs.
“He was real aggressive going after hitters,” Manager Davey Johnson said. “He hadn’t really been stretched out. I think he threw close to 80 pitches and they were all quality. I thought around the strike zone all the time, throwing good. Sometimes he rushed a little bit. But, by in large, he was in a good groove.”
Detwiler said he didn’t feel tired later in the start, but his pitches indicated his arm hadn’t been stretched out this much in a while. “I could tell that the ball was up, whereas in the beginning of the game it was down,” he said.
In his most recent stint in the bullpen, in which he made six appearances, Detwiler said he learned to get ready quickly and pitch aggressively by attacking hitters early with strikes. A reliever can’t afford to ease into a game and Detwiler adopted that mentality, and showed it on Sunday.
Detwiler took over the fifth spot in the rotation earlier this week after the Nationals decided starter Chien-Ming Wang needed to return to the bullpen to work on his mechanics. While Detwiler said he enjoyed being back in the rotation, he couldn’t say how much he had earned it. And given he already showed some improvement, the Nationals will be sure to give Detilwer a full opportunity to improve and prove himself.
“After one start, it’s kind of hard to tell,” he said. “To tell you the truth, a fifth starter needs to just eat up innings. Only going five, that’s not the way to do it.”
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FROM YESTERDAY’S JOURNAL
NATS MINOR LEAGUES
Syracuse 5, Gwinnett 2: Zack Duke pitched seven-hit, two-run baseball over eight innings to earn the win and lower his ERA to 3.69. Erik Komatsu went 4 for 5 with three runs. Henry Rodriguez pitched a scoreless ninth inning, struck out one and walked two.
New Hampshire 5, Harrisburg 3: David Rosenbaum allowed five runs, four earned, on eight hits for only his fourth loss and 2.76 ERA overall.
Potomac 7, Wilmington 1: Left fielder Kevin Keyes drove in three runs on three hits and catcher David Freitas drove in two runs on two hits. Mark DeRosa had one hit in three at-bats.
Lakewood 5, Hagerstown 3: Alex Meyer struck out 11 batters but allowed four runs on three hits and walked two.
Auburn 6, Williamsport 5: Second baseman Tony Renda and designated hitter Carlos Alvarez each drove in two runs.