Dan Haren On The Hill For Nationals In Marlins Park Tonight

Steve Mitchell

Dan Haren got through a tough first and put together a decent start against the Kansas City Royals. The New York Mets knocked Haren around in a short outing last Saturday night. Which Haren will show up tonight in Miami in the first game of three with the Marlins?

First-"half" Dan Haren gave up seven hits and seven runs, three earned in 4 1/3 IP against the Miami Marlins in Marlins Park back on April 16th. Second-"half" Dan Haren held the Fish scoreless over 6 IP in which he allowed just three hits in his second start off the DL on July 13th in Florida. The 32-year-old right-hander takes on the Nats' NL East rivals from Miami tonight in the first game of three with the Marlins.

"Just a thousand little singles, that one inning he must have given up seven [hits] in-a-row or something. That's baseball." - Davey Johnson on Dan Haren vs the Mets

Which Dan Haren will the Washington Nationals get tonight? The one who posted a 2.16 ERA and held opposing hitters to a .193/.244/.298 line over his first 50 IP after coming off the second DL stint of his 11-year career or the Haren who got knocked around in each of his last two outings, giving up 17 hits and 11 runs (10.24 ERA) in 9 2/3 IP over which opponents posted a .415/.419/.585 line.

In the first of those two outings, it was just one bad inning against the Kansas City Royals, of course. Haren gave up four hits, a walk and four earned runs in a 29-pitch first inning in Kauffman Stadium then threw six scoreless innings in which he gave up just four hits total. "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 loss to the Royals in which the starter received no decision.

"It just seemed like everything they put in play was a hit. I mean, literally almost everything they put in play was pretty much a hit..." - Dan Haren on start vs the Mets

Haren lasted just 2 2/3 last time out against the Mets in Nationals Park, but of the nine hits he surrendered, only one was an extra base hit as New York singled the Nats' starter to death and knocked him out after he threw 57 pitches to the 16 batters he faced in two+ innings of work. "It's just one of those days," Davey Johnson said after the Mets beat the Nationals 11-3 last weekend. "Just a thousand little singles, that one inning he must have given up seven [hits] in-a-row or something. That's baseball. Strange things can happen."

"It just wasn't my night," Haren explained when he met with reporters after the loss. "I mean, really, the way it ended especially, just the two singles to finish it. I tried to battle, it just seemed like everything they put in play was a hit. I mean, literally almost everything they put in play was pretty much a hit, so, I can't go out there striking out everybody. But, you know, it's baseball. I've had a good stretch, maybe I've had a little bit of luck and today was just one of those days."

The Nationals can't afford for Haren to have "one of those" nights tonight in the series opener with the Marlins in Miami. As Davey Johnson explained after Haren's start in the loss to New York, "We just need to turn it around starting tomorrow and just almost sweep out, that's what we've got to do."

The Nationals beat the Mets on Sunday night and took two of three from the Phillies. The Nats are 9-3 against the Marlins so far in 2013, but all three of their losses to the Fish have come in Marlins Park where they are just 3-3 this season.

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