Nationals' left-hander John Lannan fought through Monday night's start against the Pittsburgh Pirates when everything wasn't clicking like he had hoped. He was giving up base hits. His fastball wasn't locating, ending up high in the zone. The Pirates had chances to blow the game open early.
"I felt good but I was just up," Lannan said. "I told myself to take a deep breath and get down. That is where I am most effective and that is where I am going to get groundballs. That is what I did. I worked efficiently down in the zone."
Lannan found a way to get through the rough patch early on. In years past, a struggle similar to Monday's start early would have opened up a big inning for his opponent. Not this season. Lannan is building confidence in his game to the point where he feels like he can fight through those trouble spots.
"I think in my first couple years I was hard nosed," Lannan said. "I kept on pushing and trying to get that feel with the seam, not making adjustment the way I should have.
"Now you got guys like (Livan) Hernandez, (Jason) Marquis and our pitching coach (Steve McCatty) that really emphasized to me to making that adjustment and really not trying so hard."
The 26-year-old Lannan went relatively unscathed from the third through sixth innings Monday, allowing only his second run in the seventh when the Pirates tied the game at 2-2. He is still seeking that book end outing where he stays in a good groove for the entire start.
"I am kind of waiting for that game where I feel good all the way through," Lannan said. "They say in 10 starts, you are going to have six good ones, two crappy ones and two O.K. ones. I am just going through stuff that I am working on and grateful that I am able to go out there and make pitches when I need to."