The Nationals are intently monitoring the World Baseball Classic -- especially Team USA and two of its own pitchers, Ross Detwiler and Gio Gonzalez. The United States advanced to the second round of pool play Sunday with a 9-4 victory over Canada in Phoenix. And that second round is where Gonzalez finally will make his first start of the tournament Tuesday against either the Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico.
Detwiler already has pitched, however. He came into Saturday's elimination game against Italy with a 6-2 lead in the sixth inning and tossed a gem. In a game that lasted into the wee hours of Sunday morning EST, he pitched the final four innings to maintain that lead. Team USA went ahead for good on a grand slam by David Wright in the fifth inning.
Detwiler took over in the sixth inning and allowed just one base hit and one walk. Only one runner reached second base, and Detwiler also struck out three batters. It was encouraging for the United States -- and for the Nats, too.
- Brian McNally