Dan Haren allowed eight hits and four runs in seven innings last time out on the mound in Kansas City, Missouri's Kauffman Field, with four of the eight hits and all four of the runs he surrendered coming in a long bottom of the first inning against the Royals. The 32-year-old right-hander got knocked around early last Sunday, but hung around for seven innings. "Haren made a couple of mistakes early and then pitched brilliantly for six solid innings, gave us a chance to win," Davey Johnson told reporters after what ended up a 6-4 Nats' loss in the finale of the three-game road series with the Royals.
Haren threw 29 of the 103 pitches he ended up throwing in the first inning in the start in Kansas City, and the veteran starter gave up two home runs in the opening frame after he'd given up just two in his previous 34 innings of work on the mound. The long ball had been a real issue for Haren throughout the first half as he gave up 19 (2.09 HR/9) in his first 15 starts and 82 IP after signing a one-year/$13M deal to pitch for the Washington Nationals following two-plus seasons with the Los Angeles Angels in the American League.
Haren had given up just four home runs ( 0.72 HR/9) in 50 innings after returning from the second DL stint of his 11-year MLB career on July 8th. The two he gave up in Kansas City left him with more home runs (25) than walks (24) alllowed after 25 games, 24 starts and 139 IP in 2013. Haren's 25 HRs surrendered before tonight were the most allowed by any NL starter. As the Nationals' pregame notes mentioned though, among pitchers with at least 20 starts, the 24 walks given up were the fewest allowed by any starter in the National League and the second-fewest in the Majors, behind only Tampa Bay Rays' lefty David Price.
It wasn't the home runs or any walks that hurt Haren early tonight in the nation's capital, however. Of the nine hits he gave up in just 2 2/3 innings of work, only one was an extra base hit. Haren surrendered one-out singles by New York Mets' catcher Travis D'Arnaud and outfielder Juan Lagares in the top of the second and then gave up a two-out, two-run double by shortstop Omar Quintanilla, who lined a 1-1 splitter to center that Denard Span dove for but shockingly didn't catch. It was 2-0 Mets after two and Haren was up to 37 pitches after a 25-pitch second inning.
Haren gave up back-to-back singles by Eric Young and Daniel Murphy in the Mets' third. Young had stolen second with Murphy at bat, so he scored when the Mets' second baseman hit a 3-0 fastball from the Nats' starter back up the middle for an RBI hit and a 3-0 Mets' lead. New York's fifth hit of the inning and sixth hit of the game off Haren was a single to left by Josh Satin that sent Murphy around to third so that a sac fly to left by Ike Davis brought in NY's fourth run, 4-0. Haren was up to 57 pitches when Matt den Dekker hit a bloop single to left that got over Ian Desmond and brought Travis D'Arnaud in for a 5-0 lead. den Dekker's first MLB hit ended Haren's night.
Tanner Roark walked the first two batters he faced after taking over for Haren, loading the bases when he put Omar Quintanilla on and then forcing in a run when he gave a free pass to the opposing pitcher. 6-0 NY. Eric Young, who started the inning with a single, singled again in his second at bat in the third, driving in two more runs after scoring the first of six the Mets scored as they batted around in third. 8-0 New York.
Mets' starter Zack Wheeler, who gave up six hits and five runs in 4 2/3 IP when he faced the Nationals in his third major league start back on June 30th in New York, started tonight's game with three scoreless on 49 pitches. An 11-pitch, 1-2-3 fourth had the 23-year-old '09 1st Round pick at 60 overall and up 8-0 in Nationals Park.
Wheeler's five-pitch fifth had him up to 65 pitches with seven Nationals in-a-row retired. The Nationals loaded the bases in the sixth with Anthony Rendon hit by a pitch in a pinch hit appearance, Denard Span singling his way on and Bryce Harper walking. A sac fly to left by Jayson Werth got the Nationals on the board, 8-1, and a broken bat single to left by Ian Desmond scored Span to make it 8-2, but Wheeler held the Nationals there and finished six innings on 88 pitches.
After Tanner Roark got the Nationals through six, Fernando Abad threw a scoreless top of the seventh inning. Zack Wheeler came back out for another inning of work in the home-half of the seventh, but gave up a two-out single to right by Anthony Rendon that ended his night. Pedro Feliciano came on to face Denard Span, lefty vs lefty, and gave up the second straight two-out single. Tyler Moore stepped in as a pinch hitter with two on and two out and K'd swinging at an 0-2 slider to strand two at the end of the seventh.
The Mets added a run in the eighth when Daniel Murphy doubled to drive Eric Young in after the Mets' outfielder singled with one down, making it 9-2 New York. Juan Lagares hit a two-out, two-run single to center after a single by Josh Satin and a walk to Travis D'Arnaud and Murphy and Satin scored on the hit to make it 11-2 after seven and a half in the nation's capital.
Bryce Harper made an ill-advised attempt to stretch a leadoff double into a triple in the Nationals' eighth, and got thrown out at third on a beautiful relay from Juan Lagares to Daniel Murphy and on to Josh Satin at third. Ian Desmond doubled with two down, but Adam LaRoche grounded out to end the inning and leave himself 0 for 4 on the night and 0 for his last 16. Drew Storen thew a scoreless top of the ninth, The Nats added a run on an RBI groundout by Anthony Rendon, failed to rally in the bottom of the inning and the Mets took the second straight on the road in D.C. 11-3 Mets.
Nationals now 68-67.