The formula Craig Stammen used to beat the Mets on Wednesday night was almost identical to the one John Lannan used in his complete game shutout on Tuesday night; pound a two-seam fastball low in the zone, get ground ball outs and don’t do anything fancy.
But then, it shouldn’t be too surprising that Lannan and Stammen share some similarities, because ever since they started rooming together as middle-round draft picks in 2005, they’ve mined a similar philosophy.
Neither one has overpowering stuff, but both are proving that you don’t always need it to succeed in the majors. One night after Lannan’s shutout, Stammen allowed one run in 7 1/3 innings of a 3-1 win. He threw 20 of his first 28 pitches for strikes, got 11 ground ball outs and needed just 95 pitches to get three batters into the eighth.
“It’s a credit to our system,” interim manager Jim Riggleman said. “There’s some light at the end of the tunnel, when you see those performances.”
There will be plenty more in tomorrow’s game story about Lannan and Stammen, but the other big news from this game was Josh Willingham, who broke out of his mini-slump with a 4-for-4 night that included a two-run homer to put the Nats ahead for good.
Willingham had a shot at the cycle in the eighth inning when he doubled to center. Third-base coach Pat Listach waved Nick Johnson around third, but when Johnson pulled up, Willingham had to retreat after rounding second base. Tough to say if he would have been awarded a triple or if it would have been scored a double with Willingham advancing to third on a throw home, but it became a moot point.
Asked if he knew he had a shot at the cycle, Willingham gave a wry smile and just said, “Well, yeah.”
It’s on to a one-game series against the Cardinals tomorrow—or the tail end of a three-game series halted by rain in early May. Collin Balester, who will be called up in place of the injured Jordan Zimmermann, will face Adam Wainwright.