- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 6, 2013

Five pitches.

For everything that went on at Nationals Park on Saturday, the five pitches Drew Storen threw might have gone unnoticed.

All-Star teams were named and two Nationals were selected. Bryce Harper will start in the outfield and Jordan Zimmermann will be on the National League’s pitching staff.

Rafael Soriano, not an All-Star, picked up his 24th save of the season in an eventful ninth that saw the Nationals make two strong plays to preserve a 5-4 victory over the San Diego Padres.

Zimmermann was denied his 13th victory when reliever Ross Ohlendorf gave up a three-run home run on his third pitch after replacing the starter.

So much happening, so easy to overlook Storen’s masterful inning. His boss did not.

“He said ‘here’ and that was the highlight film of my day,” Nationals manager Davey Johnson said.

Storen is an unquestioned talent who can be a bit enigmatic. He’d been pitching well lately but his last two outings before Saturday were not going to be described as “well” by anybody. Four runs in one inning in the first on Tuesday, three in one inning in the next only two days later.

Earlier in the week, Johnson had some pointed remarks for Storen in his pregame media session.

Basically, Johnson said he wanted Storen to stop thinking so much and trust his best stuff.

“And that’s what I was talking about. His stuff is too good. He doesn’t need to try to trick ‘em,” Johnson said Saturday. “It’s not just coming from me, it’s coming from (pitching coach Steve) McCatty.

“When he goes like that, he makes it look easy.”

After Ohlendorf gave up the go-ahead home run to Jesus Guzman after relieving Zimmermann in the sixth, the Nats came back to take the lead in their half of the seventh. Harper drove in his third run of the day with a sacrifice fly. Ryan Zimmerman drove in another with a single.

When Storen came on to pitch the eighth, there were a smattering a boos scattered around the park. They turned to cheers, and quickly.

Pitch one – a pop up by Carlos Quentin to Zimmerman. Pitch two – a liner by Chase Headley caught by Zimmerman. Pitches three, four and five – strikes to Guzman, the last one catching him looking.

“Any time you can get it right to contact and get them to hit it right to guys, especially on a hot day, you can’t complain about that,” Storen said. “You knew you just had to attack guys in the zone. You sink it down in the zone. Hopefully those guys hit it on the ground and let our defense take care of it.”

Storen had no problems with Johnson’s message and he doesn’t disagree.

“I thought he had a good point,” Storen said. “I’m trying to pitch around guys. I have good enough stuff. I just need to attack hitters and we have a great defense behind you. There’s no reason to be pitching around anybody.”

Before the two bad outings, Storen had been pretty strong. He hadn’t given up a run in 14 of 16 appearances going back to mid-May. The two bad ones, he said, didn’t ruin his season. The strong one Saturday, though, helps reinforce his belief in himself, helps him get back where he wants to be.

“Obviously you want to get out there in a big spot,” Storen said. “If you know anything about pitching in the bullpen, you can’t get two bad outings get to you. Especially when you’re on a streak like I had before. Just learn from them, move on and get out there again.”

With the victory, the Nationals moved to three games over the .500 mark for the first time since May 18. The Nats have won three in a row and five of their past seven.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide