HOMERS BY HARPER, DESMOND AND SPAN PACE OFFENSE
The story of Dan Haren’s 2013 season can be best descried by one word: disappointing. Saturday afternoon, though, Haren found some of the magic that once made him one of the most dependable starters in the big leagues, as his seven innings of one-run, three-hit ball led the Washington Nationals to a 4-1 win over the New York Mets, before 37,464 at Nationals Park.
With the win, the Nats keep pace with Atlanta (8.5 GB) as the Braves beat the Cardinals earlier in the day.
Haren (W, 5-11, 5.49) was the beneficiary of three friendly home runs as the Nats won their third game in their last four. He struck out six and walked one in his 103 pitches. In four starts since returning from the disabled list, Haren’s ERA is 3.13. The win marks the first time in Haren’s last 11 games he’s earned a victory.
The Nats only managed six hits on the day, but three of them went the distance against Mets starter Dillon Gee (L, 7-8, 4.13). Washington got started in the second inning, when Ian Desmond and Denard Span hit back-to-back homers with two outs in the frame. It was Desmond’s 16th of the season and Span’s first as a National.
The fun didn’t stop there. Haren led off the third with a double to deep center and leadoff man Bryce Harper crushed an 0-1 pitch to the Red Porch in center for a two-run shot, his 15 homer of the year.
Haren kept the scoresheet clean until the sixth inning. With one out, Eric Young, Jr. reached on an infield single and stole second without a throw. After a Daniel Murphy flyout, David Wright crushed several foul balls down the left field line at home run distance before bouncing a ball off Ryan Zimmerman’s glove that slipped away, ruled an RBI single.
But the Mets couldn’t muster anything against Tyler Clippard, who extended his scoreless inning streak to 17, and Rafael Soriano, who came on after the rain delay to earn his 26th save of the season.
THE GOOD: Dan Haren, obviously. With the trade deadline approaching, the Nats find themselves in a quandary as to how to manage the rotation the rest of the way out. Ross Detwiler is out at least a month with a herniated disc in his back, and Taylor Jordan will be shut down soon in his first season back from Tommy John surgery. Ross Ohlendorf made a nice start in Friday’s double-header and has been performing admirably. Haren’s resurgence could be the key if Nats are to get back in the division race.
THE BAD: A 1:02 rain delay that stretched out what would have been a tidy 2:15 game otherwise.
THE UGLY: Anthony Rendon went 0-for-3, extending his slump to a whopping 2-for-31 in his last eight games, lowering his average from .301 to .263.
THE STATS: 6 hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks. 1-for-1 with RISP, 2 LOB. E: Rendon (11, fielding), one DP.
NEXT GAME: Sunday at 1:35 pm against the Mets. Taylor Jordan (0-3, 3.68) hosts Carlos Torres (1-1, 0.94).