John Lannan dominated his former team, frustrated Washington's hitters and limited the Nationals to just four hits in eight scoreless innings in tonight's 3-2 win in Citizens Bank Park. Philadelphia signed the 28-year-old, Nats' '05 11th Round pick to a 1-year/$2.5M deal this past winter, after the Nationals paid Lannan $5M in 2012 to serve as what Nats' skipper Davey Johnson described as a "very luxurious insurance policy," stashed at Triple-A Syracuse throughout the majority of the last of his six seasons with the organization that drafted him out of Siena College, developed him and brought him to the majors for his MLB debut on July 26, 2007.
The final campaign was an acrimonious one, however, with Lannan making a public request for a trade after the Nationals optioned him to their top minor league affiliate so option-less '07 1st Round pick Ross Detwiler could stay in the rotation.
Lannan's first start against the Nationals came in a June 17th game in Philadelphia, when the left-hander came back from two months on the DL to face his one-time teammates in his new home park. Lannan gave up six hits and two earned runs in five innings of work that night, but received no decision in the Phillies' 5-4 win. Tonight in CBP, Lannan was the ground ball-inducing machine he is at his best, but as Washington Post writer Thomas Boswell noted on Twitter, the Nationals played into his hands:
Teams that hit Lannan to opposite field do well. Those that try to pull for power he does well. Nats clueless, like they've never seen him.— Thomas Boswell (@ThomasBoswellWP) July 9, 2013
Ian Desmond sums up the night: "I feel like I just beat my head against the door for 3 hours. Or however long that took." (2 hrs, 40 min)— Amanda Comak (@acomak) July 9, 2013
"That was... Lannan pitched a heck of a ballgame," Davey Johnson told reporters after the loss which snapped the Nats' four-game win streak. "He basically didn't use his breaking ball much. He threw fastballs, his sinker/changeup and the guys were saying he had a pretty good sinker. Mixed his pitches up well. I thought it was 'vintage Lannan.'
"Lot of ground balls," Johnson said, "and when he went upstairs he had some life on his fastball. He pitched a heck of a ballgame." The 70-year-old skipper thought his team should have known Lannan better after 134 starts in the organization. "You know him so well, you kind of know how he goes after hitters," he explained. "Some of the guys should have had a little better approach, I thought. But I just tip my hat to him. He pitched a heck of a ballgame."
The Nationals handed Phillies' closer Jonathan Papelbon his first blown save in 14 opportunities when the two teams faced off in Citizens Bank back on June 17th, and they got to the 32-year-old closer again tonight, rallying for two runs in the top of the ninth but fell just a few feet short of a comeback. Bryce Harper singled to start the inning, took third on a Ryan Zimmerman double to center and scored on a sac fly by Jayson Werth that the former Phillies' outfielder thought he hit out.
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Werth's 400ft fly got the Nats on the board and Ryan Zimmerman scored when Adam LaRoche hit a sac fly to center in the next at bat, but pinch hitter Chad Tracy flew out to end it. "He hit the heck out of it. I was hoping," Davey Johnson said when asked about Werth's warning track blast. "We made a good comeback. We hung in there."
And got a decent outing out of Dan Haren? Haren returned from the DL and gave up two runs in the first, then threw four scoreless to keep it close.
"I was really pleased with the way Haren threw the ball," Johnson said afterwards. "Actually, if we make a good throw to third, he probably escapes the first inning without any problem. He threw the ball very well. I was pleased with his command. I was pleased with his stuff. He threw a lot of pitches, and that's the only reason I didn't let him go back out there. But he threw the ball really good. I'm glad to have him back."
The "throw in the third" was a high throw to Ryan Zimmerman by Nats' catcher Wilson Ramos when Ben Revere and Jimmy Rollins pulled a double steal after each had singled to start the first. Both runners would end up coming around to score and the Nationals went down 2-0 early. Haren came off the DL to make the start and got positive results in his manager's mind. "Everything was coming out of his hand better," Johnson said, "I thought he threw some awfully good pitches. He had a good live fastball. Threw some good splits. I thought the ball just looked good coming out of his hand."
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