Johnson had a couple of hiccups, too. He used Storen, to keep him sharp, for 11 pitches in Game 3. When Storen ended up throwing 26 pitches to win Game 4, then gave up the series-losing hit on his 28th pitch in Game 5, the natural second guess was that Johnson hadn’t worked Storen that hard in a three-day span all season. But Storen touched 97 mph in Game 5, sat at 95-96 and had a sharp slider. What else matters?
Johnson also chose not to intentionally walk Pete Kozma with men on second and third, the score 7-7 and two outs in the ninth of Game 5. Why not walk Kozma (who had been 3 for 15, but with a homer) and force the Cards to pinch-hit backup catcher Tony Cruz (the only man left). That would have forced closer Jason Motte, who’d already pitched one inning, out of the game.
That’s an option. But few managers would choose it because first base wasn’t open until the count on Kozma was 1-2. You seldom walk a man who already has two strikes against him to face a similar hitter with a 0-0 count.
Luckily for the world’s sanity, Stephen Strasburg wasn’t missed and become a footnote, not an issue. Fifth starter Ross Detwiler joined the four-man postseason rotation and had a 0.00 ERA in the Nats’ win in Game 4. Of course, maybe Strasburg could’ve topped Detwiler and gone sub-zero.
There’s one theory left to keep the Strasburg chestnut roasting. A few maintain that if Strasburg had kept pitching, Detwiler would’ve moved ahead of Jackson in the Nats rotation. That’s wrong.
Jackson is a postseason experienced righty, who was sharp in his last regular season start and also fanned 10 Cards in an August win. The only mark against him was an awful September start in St. Louis.
Detwiler, a lefty (the Cards kill ’em), gave up 12 runs in 71
3 innings in his last two regular season starts. No one ever considered pushing him ahead of Jackson. Proving: You never know. Detwiler came up huge.
No Game Today.
That haunting phrase is going to stick around awhile. But it will recede eventually and the memory of 100 wins in ’12 will come back in focus.
Then, we’ll think: No game today, but so many more to come.
For previous columns by Thomas Boswell, visit washingtonpost.com/