A spectacular performance by SP Ross Detwiler and CF Willie Harris combined for a solid one-two punch to help defeat the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday to ensure a series victory with a 5-3 walk-off 2R HR by Willie Harris at Nationals Park. See more here.
Detwiler pitched seven stellar innings in one of his best performances of the season as he searched for his first win. He was pulled after 99 pitches. Dukes helped Detwiler's cause with a double that he tried to stretch into a triple. He was ultimately thrown out at third base, but drove in Nick Johnson before the out. Kip Wells came entered the game in relief with an inherited runner and after a single to LF, Adam Dunn failed to locate the cutoff man and proceeded to throw the ball to home plate allowing the tying runner to advance to 2B and scoring position.
Wells retired two batters in the 8th inning after allowing another run. He was relieved in place of Joel Hanrahan, who twice hasn't been able to hold down the closer status.
After the 7th inning MacDougal could have been called into the game or when Wells found himself in trouble. Instead MacDougal wasn't brought into the game until it was headed into extra innings. If he could log the two innings then why not preserve the victory and call in the closer in the 8th inning?
Ultimately the game was won by a 12 inning walk off 2R HR by Willie Harris who earlier in the game manufactured the first Nationals run of the game almost single handedly with a double and a steal. He also made an unbelievably difficult catch in CF to rob the Blue Jays of a sure hit.
Could extra innings have been averted? Fans will never know. 3B coaches usually get the pink slip for too many bad decisions about sending or not sending runners home. Managers get judged more often by keeping the locker room together as a cohesive group and managing the pitchers. Manny Acta's done a phenomenal job of keeping the team together and looking forward every game, but his handling of the pitchers leaves something to be desired.
Manny often makes similar calls time and time again regarding the pulling of starting pitchers very early in games without allowing the young pitchers to learn how to manage their own pitch count, how to pitch without their best stuff, and how to adjust during a game after the batters have adjusted with their third at bat. Otherwise Manny is creating middle relievers that start the game. It's the experience the starters gain in the later innings that make them a better starter. What clouds the evaluation of Manny's decisions about pitching is the talent he's had over the years on the staff. It will be interesting to see if decisions become easier and better as the talent improves.