- GOP: Environmental rules keeping agents from accessing border
- John Kerry: Millions displaced by religious fighting in 2013
- Federal appeals court rules against Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban
- White House says Russia ‘losing’ war in Ukraine
- Hamas turns to North Korea for weapons deal, Iran for money
- Syrian casualties surge as jihadis consolidate
- U.N. rights chief: Flight MH17 downing possible war crime
- Attack on park in Gaza war kills 10, mostly children
- Calif. protesters to block Israel-owned ships at Port of Oakland
- Obama to give Africa $38M, but tells young leaders: Stop ‘making excuses’ for economy
Dan Haren has best outing yet as Nationals down Reds
Question of the Day
Starting pitchers often talk about momentum carrying over from day to day. One guy in the rotation has a fantastic outing and the guy taking the ball the next night strives to be even better.
The Washington Nationals weren’t asking that much of Dan Haren heading into Saturday afternoon’s game against the Cincinnati Reds. For one thing, anticipating a third consecutive one-hit performance is unreasonable against any team, let alone a playoff-caliber opponent. For another, there was no reason to set the bar quite that high for Haren.
Off to the worst start of any member of Washington’s rotation, beginning with a brutal drubbing at Cincinnati in his Nats debut, Haren is just trying to work his way back to being the pitcher his new employers expected – and that isn’t a guns-blazing, one-hitter kind of guy.
Saturday, the old Haren was more in evidence. He kept a scuffling Reds lineup off balance throughout a season-best six-inning performance, leading the Nats to a 6-3 win and at last feeling like a real contributor.
“It [stinks] it’s taken so long to have a good outing, but I finally feel like part of the team,” Haren said. “I’ve got to be like this or better the rest of the year. There’s no excuse for me not to be.”
At least five years older than everyone else in the Nats’ rotation, the 32-year-old Haren knows better than most in the Washington clubhouse that every season ebbs and flows. It’s just that the ebbs are a bit more glaring when they come right off the top.
Not that the Nats, now 13-11 on the season, have been tearing it up as a whole, but Haren has lagged behind the rest of the rotation from the first time he took the ball. He gave up a relatively mild six runs in the 15-0 beating the Reds administered in his first start of the season, but no one wants to leave that type of first impression.
Haren has gradually worked his way back toward his usual form since then, his ERA dropping each time out as he allowed three earned runs each of his next three starts before surrendering two Saturday afternoon to land at 6.29. Incremental improvement, to be sure – and there’s no magic behind it.
“It’s really not as much different as people would think,” he said. “I didn’t make any drastic change to delivery or what I’m throwing. My split was good. I got a few strikeouts. A couple good double plays.”
The first of those, started by Anthony Rendon at third base, ended the second inning. The second, a 6-4-3 in the sixth on Haren’s 88th and final pitch, capped a key defensive sequence.
Shin-Soo Choo had led off the sixth inning with a homer to right-center, one of very few hard-hit balls the Reds managed off Haren. Zack Cozart followed with a single, prompting Zach Duke to pick up the tempo in the Washington bullpen. Joey Votto then drove a ball deep into the gap in left-center, and Denard Span took off to his right.
The center fielder raced to the wall, leaped, and snagged a drive that didn’t quite look headed over the fence but that easily would have been extra bases.
“I was already playing deep, I was respecting his power,” Span said. “I’m not sure if the ball would have went over, but I was prepared to bring it back if it did go out.”
Haren then got Brandon Phillips to hit into the inning-ending double play and the only threat mounted by Cincinnati while the starter was in the game had been extinguished.
After a shaky seventh inning in which Tyler Clippard was bailed out by an even more impressive Span effort, the Nats managed to put the Reds away behind Drew Storen and Rafael Soriano to save Haren’s second victory of the season.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Marc Lancaster is the sports editor at The Washington Times. He has covered Major League Baseball for the Tampa Tribune and the Cincinnati Post and served as an editor at FanHouse.com and SportsIllustrated.com. A University of Georgia graduate, he began his career as a sportswriter at the Athens (Ga.) Banner-Herald. He can be reached at email@example.com.
- DeAngelo Hall confident in place among best NFL corners
- Redskins training camp: Mike Caussin thrilled to join hometown team
- Ryan Zimmerman has 'pretty substantial' hamstring strain
- Most popular MLB player jerseys: Bryce Harper at career low
- John McCain: I'd drop Redskins nickname if I owned team
Latest Blog Entries
By Mark Davis
The nation founders, the Lone Star State thrives
- Hillary Clinton: Forget Obama, George W. Bush made her 'proud to be an American'
- Illegal immigrants demand representation in White House meetings
- D.C. police chief orders officers not to arrest legal gun owners carrying weapons in public
- Tennessee Gov. Haslam slams White House for secret dump of illegals in his state
- CURL: Obama, staffers not even pretending any more
- Family of Marine killed in Afghanistan pushes back against cover-up
- 'Pocket drones': U.S. Army developing tiny spies for the next big war
- DeSean Jackson working on offensive cohesiveness with Redskins teammates
- Washington Times strikes content and marketing partnership with Redskins
- D.C. seeks stay in order striking down ban on handguns in public
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq