There was an awful lot that went on in the Nationals 2-1 victory over the Phillies this afternoon between John Lannan’s first win over the Phillies ever, Laynce Nix’s game-saving catch and a bullpen performance that shutout the Phillies over the final 3 2/3 innings.
There was also Drew Storen’s 10th save of the season and his first since May 16. Since then, Storen had pitched three innings and allowed five earned runs — though three of them came in a “needs some work” situation in a blowout in Milwaukee.
So when he climbed the mound in a one-run game Wednesday, he needed three outs to get quote-unquote back on track.
The most intriguing of those three outs, of course, was the last one: a one-on, two-out strikeout of Placido Polanco, who has hit the Nationals at a .332 clip in his career with more hits against them than against any other team in the National League.
In a 1-2 count with the tying run in Jimmy Rollins on first — and actively attempting to get to second base — Storen struck Polanco out looking to seal the Nationals first series victory over the Phillies of the season and third of since 2008.
Polanco wasn’t thrilled with a strike three that, even to the naked eye in real time, looked to be a bit outside.
“Drew really made a great pitch there to end the game,” said Nationals manager Jim Riggleman. “I’m sure Polanco doesn’t think it was a great pitch, but if that’s a ball Jimmy Rollins was on second base because he was running and that’s not feeling too good with Polanco up with the tying run on second. That was big.”
In discussing the at-bat, Storen said the last thing on his mind was a strikeout. The goal was simply to miss the barrel of Polanco’s bat and hopefully get him to put something in play the defense could handle.
As for whether or not the pitch was truly a strike? Storen had no doubt: “Looked good to me,” he said with a smile.