October 31, 2014

Washington Nationals Game 161 Review: Haren’s gem leads Nats over D-backs

Dan Haren’s performance was one of the biggest disappointments of the first half of the season for the Washington Nationals. Since returning from the disabled list mid-season, he’s been more of the pitcher they thought he would be. The Nats dug themselves too deep a hole to climb out of, and Haren’s second half performance ended up too little, too late.

Saturday against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Haren had another terrific performance, holding the D-Back to four hits over seven innings, leading the Nats to a 2-0 win, ensuring that manager Davey Johnson finishes his Major League managing career at least 300 games over .500.

Haren walked one and struck out five, using the same formula that has led him to post a 3.28 ERA since July 8, the day he was activated from the D.L.

The Nats couldn’t do much off Arizona starter Brandon McCarthy, but it was just enough, scoring single runs in the sixth and seventh innings.  Denard Span tripled to lead off the sixth and came in on Ryan Zimmerman’s ground out to short. The next inning, Chad Tracy launched his fourth home run of the season, a solo shot, to cap the scoring.

Drew Storen pitched a perfect eighth inning with a strikeout, and though Rafael Soriano made things interesting in the ninth, allowing a walk and a hit, he got the job done, earning his 43rd save of the season.

THE GOOD: Tracy went 2-for-3 with the homer, raising his season batting average to .202.

THE BAD: Ian Desmond went 0-for-4.

THE UGLY: We’ll refrain.

THE STATS: 6 hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks. 0-for-4 with RISP, 7 LOB. No errors or DPs.

NEXT GAME: Sunday at 4:10 pm ET against the Diamondbacks. Tanner Roark (7-1, 1.74) faces LHP Wade Miley (10-10, 3.63).

Nats split doubleheader with Marlins in home finale, on brink of elimination

The Washington Nationals split Sunday’s day-night doubleheader against the Miami Marlins, but they remain five games out of the second NL Wild Card spot – with just six total games remaining.

Dan Haren accumulated the Nats’ loss in Game 1 after giving up a two-run shot to Giancarlo Stanton in the first inning and a solo shot by Christian Yelich in the third.

The Nats’ bats, in turn, were quiet. Washington tallied just four hits in Game 1, compared with the Marlins’ 12. And, the very team living on a prayer failed to cross home plate until the sixth after Denard Span walked and Ryan Zimmerman homered.

By that point, the Nats were a day late and a dollar short.

Donovan Solano’s RBI sacrifice fly in the top of the seventh gave Miami an insurance run to write a 4-2 win in the books.

Haren’s final line was less than impressive: 6.0 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 2 HR [Read more...]

NATS: Happy Birthday, Dan Haren

HAPPY 33rd BIRTHDAY DAN HAREN!

Washington Nationals RHP Dan Haren was born on 09/17/1980 in Monterey Park, California.

Be sure to wish #15 a Happy 33rd Birthday.

Dan Haren - Chicago White Sox v. Washington Nationals, 4/9/2013 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Dan Haren – Chicago White Sox v. Washington Nationals, 4/9/2013 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Nats Nightly: 3-0 win over the Mets; Haren strong; Zim homers

Dave Nichols of District Sports Page and Patrick Reddington and Doghouse from Federal Baseball discuss the Washington Nationals 3-0 win over the New York Mets. Nats still five games back of the Reds in the loss column with 17 games to play.

Washington Nationals Game 145 Review: Nats move to seven over .500 with 3-0 win over Mets

Dan Haren gave up one hit in six innings and four relievers pitched the final three innings as the Washington Nationals (76-69) won their fifth in a row and seventh in their last eight games to move a season-high seven games over .500 with a 3-0 win over the New York Mets at Citi Field in Queens, NY.

Ryan Zimmerman led off the sixth inning with his 22nd home run of the season off Mets starter Zack Wheeler (L, 7-5, 3.22) to break a scoreless tie and Anthony Rendon’s two out, two-run double in the eighth provided all the necessary insurance.

Haren (W, 9-13, 5.02) rediscovered the magic he had during a string of starts he made immediately after returning from the disabled list mid-season. He walked one and struck out eight holding the Mets scoreless through six innings.

Xavier Cedeno retired both left-handed batters the faced in the seventh, and Drew Storen recorded the last out of that frame after allowing a single. Tyler Clippard pitched a perfect eighth inning for his league-leading 32nd save of the season, and Rafael Soriano earned his 41st save of the year to solidify the win.

THE GOOD: Ryan Zimmerman. I’ve been as hard as anyone on the guy this season, but he’s been on absolute fire the past 10 days with his power, hitting his seventh home run in that timeframe. Props to Haren as well rebounding from three miserable starts to give the Nats a fighting chance in this one.

THE BAD: Wilson Ramos went 0-for-4 and stranded four runners.

THE UGLY: Home plate umpire James Hote. On four different occasions, Hoye granted time to a Mets batter while Haren was in the middle of his delivery. Also angered Storen on a pitch called a ball immediately preceding the base hit Storen allowed.

THE STATS: 11 hits, 1 BB, 9 Ks. 1-for-10 with RISP, 9 LOB. No errors, no DPs.

NEXT GAME: Thursday at 1:10 pm against the Mets. Tanner Roark (5-0, 0.93) faces Aaron Harang (0-0), recently acquired after Seattle released him.

Washington Nationals Game 140 Review: Marlins topple Haren, no-hit Nats through five

A large portion of the Washington Nationals’ following may have already written off the team for any shot of an NL Wild Card spot. And still more may have done so after Friday night’s demoralizing 7-0 loss to the 53-86 Miami Marlins.

For his second straight outing, Dan Haren lasted fewer innings than intended. On Friday, he made it just three and, by that point, the Marlins had taken a commanding 5-0 lead on six hits, two walks and one monstrous home run.

In the bottom of the first, Chris Coghlan led off with a double and Donovan Solano walked. Christian Yelich singled to load the bases and Giancarlo Stanton singled home Coghlan and Solano.

Haren brought Logan Morrison down chasing an 84 MPH cutter for strike three, but Placido Polanco batted in Yelich on a sacrifice fly before Haren recorded out number three.

Haren’s best attempt at a 1-2-3 inning was foiled in the second on a single by Jose Fernandez, but the Marlins fell short in bringing him home.

They made up for it, however, in the third. [Read more...]

Washington Nationals Game 135 Review: Haren returns to old habits as Nats fall to Mets

Coming into Saturday night’s matchup against the New York Mets, Dan Haren had transformed himself into one of the Washington Nationals’ most surprising assets as of late.

But, as the Nats face a stream of must-win games to keep any semblance of hope for a National League Wild Card spot alive, Haren fell apart against the Mets’ Zack Wheeler in what later amounted to an 11-3 loss for Washington.

In just 2 ⅔ innings pitched, Haren gave up seven runs on nine hits in what amounted to his worst start of the season. To add salt to reopened wounds, Haren walked back to the dugout at the end of his short stint accompanied by a sea of boos from the Nationals Park crowd.

Throughout Haren’s outing, it was not the longball that hurt him, rather a succession of singles by practically everyone in the Mets’ batting order. [Read more...]

Washington Nationals Game 130 Review: Nats’ seventh-inning comeback falls short in finale vs. Royals

Dan Haren recovered from a disastrous first inning, but the Washington Nationals’ seventh-inning comeback proved too little against the Kansas City Royals in what amounted to a 6-4 loss Sunday afternoon.

Just three pitches into Haren’s outing, Alex Gordon homered to right center to put the Royals up 1-0. From there, Emilio Bonifacio walked and came home on a single by Eric Hosmer. With Billy Butler batting, however, Nats catcher Wilson Ramos caught Hosmer in his attempt to steal second.

Butler went on to strike out looking at a 90 MPH fastball, but Haren was not yet ready to record a third out.

Instead, Mike Moustakas singled and Salvador Perez homered to left to give Kansas City a four-run lead into the second.

Through three innings, the Nats failed to come up with any answers against Royals’ righthander Ervin Santana. In the second, Adam LaRoche singled and, in the third, Anthony Rendon doubled before Denard Span singled, but all three innings resulted in nothing but zeroes for the visiting team looking to sweep. [Read more...]

Washington Nationals Game 125 Review: Another strong outing by Haren leads Nats past Cubs

Dan Haren allowed on run over six innings to lead the Washington Nationals to a 4-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs Tuesday night at Wrigley Field.

An unlikely hero in the month of August, Haren (W, 8-11) improved his record for the month to 3-0 with a 1.04 ERA in four starts. The turnaround has brought his season ERA down to 4.64 with an 8-11 record.

The Nats were on the board early against starter Chris Rusin (L, 2-3) after Bryce Harper led off the first with a single and came home on a double by Ryan Zimmerman. In the bottom of the inning, Junior Lake reached base on a fielding error by Ian Desmond, but Haren retired the next three batters to quickly end the inning.

Washington threatened in the second after Tyler Moore singled and Anthony Rendon doubled, but Scott Hairston, Haren and Harper went down in order to hold the Nats lead to just 1-0.

The Cubs finally responded in the fourth before Washington could tack on another run. On a 2-2 count with two outs, Brian Bogusevic homered to right center to tie the game. [Read more...]

Washington Nationals Weekend Review: Nats drop series after HBP drama

The Washington Nationals, in dire need of a winning streak to spark any chance at catching Cincinnati for a wild card playoff spot, instead traded wins with the Atlanta Braves over the weekend to drop the series to the division front-runners. The Nats fell to 60-63 overall and 4-12 to the Braves this season. After play on Sunday, the Nationals trailed the Reds by 9 1/2 games for the final playoff spot with just 39 games to play.

SATURDAY: In a marathon, 15-inning affair, the Nats dropped the Braves 8-7, courtesy of Adam LaRoche’s 18th home run of the season leading off the 15th inning against the Braves’ Kris Medlin. Medlin (L, 10-11), who was slated to start Tuesday’s gave for Atlanta, was in his third inning of relief.

Both teams used nine pitchers and had to use a starter to pitch their final innings. For the Nats, Dan Haren came in to the bottom of the 15th and recorded the first save of his career, retiring the Braves allowing just one hit and striking out two.

The drama of extra innings would not have necessary were it not for the efforts of Rafael Soriano, who allowed two runs in the bottom of the ninth, letting the Braves tie it up to force extra time.

The game had a strange feel to it all night, as neither starter made it two innings. Braves starter Mike Minor was done after 1 2/3 after he allowed four earned runs on four hits and four walks to put the Braves in a hole early.

On the other side, Nats starter Stephen Strasburg was tossed two batter into the second inning, after throwing three wild pitches — the last two behind batter Andrelton Simmons. Were it any other game, Strasburg would have been allowed to work out whatever problems he was having with his control. But Strasburg plunked Braves outfielder Justin Upton on the behind with his first pitch after allowing a homer to Jason Heyward in the first inning and both benches were warned.

After the two pitches behind Simmons, home plate umpire Marvin Hudson took matters into his own hands and ejected Strasburg and manager Davey Johnson, as per the rule after benches have been warned. Both Strasburg and Johnson face fines and suspensions as well.

The Nats built a 6-2 lead in through the sixth inning and entered the bottom of the eighth with a 7-4 lead. But Freddie Freeman homered of Tyler Clippard in the eighth, and Heyward hit his second of the night, a two-run shot, off Soriano in the bottom of the ninth to tie things up.

There were heroes abound for the Nats bullpen though, as Tanner Roark, Drew Storen, Ian Krol, Craig Stammen and Haren combined to throw 11 scoreless innings of relief. Stammen, who earned the win (6-5), struck out five in three hitless extra innings.

SUNDAY: The Nats went 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position, stranding 11 runners total, in a 2-1 loss to the Braves in the series finale. Despite putting two runners on with less than two outs in each of the first three innings, the Nats were never able to dent Julio Teheran’s ERA.

The offensive woes made a loser of Gio Gonzalez, who allowed two first inning runs before shutting the Braves down for the rest of his seven innings pitched. Gonzalez (L, 7-6), struck out nine in seven frames. He had his share of issues all day long, allowing five hits and four walks, but after Saturday’s marathon, the bullpen was fried and Gio was able to gut through 120 pitches, giving the Nats a chance to stay in the game.

Unfortunately, the hitters weren’t up to the task. The Nats got good days from Denard Span (3-for-5) Bryce Harper (2-for-4) and surprise starter Chad Tracy (2-for-4, subbing for Ryan Zimmerman who took a hard foul of fhis lower leg in the Saturday marathon). But they weren’t able to sustain an attack, as only one other hitter in the lineup was able to hit safely.

That one other hit belonged to Jayson Werth (19-for-39 in his last 10 games, .334/.407/.531 for the season), who drove in the Nats only run with a single in the seventh off reliever Scott Downs, which plated Anthony Rendon, who walked earlier in the inning.

Drew Storen pitched a perfect eighth inning, needing just five pitches to retire the side. Since returning from the minor leagues, Storen has pitched three scoreless innings, allowing one hit and no walks while striking out five.

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