"Some good signs," Davey Johnson told reporters tonight, starting with the silver linings from the Washington Nationals' 10-1 loss to the New York Mets. "Young pitcher looked pretty good, [Ian] Krol. And [Fernando] Abad continues to throw good, so some good signs coming out of today anyway." The scoreless inning Krol threw in his MLB debut included three Ks. Fernando Abad threw two scoreless in relief.
Between those two appearances, however, Craig Stammen and Erik Davis had rough performances. Stammen surrendered three hits, two walks and two runs in a 32-pitch, 17-strike fifth after which the Nationals trailed the Mets 7-1. Davis gave up four hits and three runs in the seventh as the Mets went up by nine. The way the Mets were clobbering the Nats' starter and the way the Nationals were hitting with runners on, however, it was over long before any of the relievers came into the game. Washington had 10 hits, but went 2 for 12 with runners in scoring position in the loss.
"We swung the bats better," Johnson said, "but we didn't swing the bats when we had runners in scoring position. We could have made it a little closer and maybe we'd get a better effort out of the pitchers."
Dan Haren allowed seven hits, three home runs and five of the runs NY scored in the second game of their three-game visit to the nation's capital. "He was struggling hitting his spots it looked like to me," the Nationals' manager said after Haren's 76-pitch, 48-strike four inning outing. "And [it looked] like his pitches were a little flat. When he throws that many pitches in that few innings, you know he's having a little problem locating the ball."
After 12 starts, the 32-year-old right-hander who signed a 1-year/$13M dollar deal with the Nats is (4-7) with a 5.45 ERA, a 4.96 FIP, a league-leading 15 HRs (2.00 HR/9) and nine walks (1.20 BB/9) allowed over 67.2 IP in which he's struck out 53 (7.05 K/9).
The Nationals' manager said he wasn't worried that Haren might be hurt when a reporter asked if an injury of some sort was a concern. "No," Johnson said, "I think he's healthy. He's been pitching pretty good, this just wasn't one of his better ones. But we just turn the page on it."
Haren was coming off what was arguably his best start with the Nationals, a seven and a 1/3 inning outing against the Baltimore Orioles in which he held the hard-hitting O's to eight hits and two earned runs and more importantly held opposing hitters in the park a night after home runs were flying out left and right [and center] in Orioles Park at Camden Yards. "I've got to be better," Haren told reporters after the game, "I've got to pick it up for these guys. No one feels worse about it than I do. But what can I do?"
"I feel like I'm letting down the team, the fans, the front office," Haren said, "Everybody. And no one feels worse about it than me. But I've got to take the ball in five days and I've got to believe, because the team needs me. And I know I'm good. I've been good at times this year, but just no consistency whatsoever."
The struggles he's dealt with early, Haren said, were some of the roughest he's been through in his 11-year career. "This is one of the toughest stretches I've had. I've been pitching in the big leagues since 2003. I don't remember many times as tough as this one, where it's just so up-and-down, I feel good one day and just so bad the next. Body-wise? I have no excuses, I'm healthy. If it was something, that would be an easy way out to say, 'I'm hurt.' But I'm not hurt. I'm just not getting the job done."
As for the usually-reliable Craig Stammen's struggles tonight?
"I don't know," the Nats' 70-year-old skipper said. "Last time out he was letter-perfect. Tonight he just couldn't seem to find the strike zone. That was a rare occasion for him, it just wasn't in the cards tonight."