It was just one inning, but symbolically, it was crucial for Drew Storen.
You could see the determination, focus and drive on the face of Storen these first few days during pregame warmups and you knew whenever his first game arrived it would be important for many reasons.
Erasing the memory but learning from the experience of Oct. 12 in the National League Division Series against the Cardinals drives Storen, even though it’s not something that is talked about every day.
But Ryan Zimmerman knows the importance of this first appearance since that game.
“He has been a closer,” Zimmerman said. “He has been in the big leagues. He understands you can’t save every one. You can’t get guys out every single time. That is why he will be so successful this year ... (because) he can forget about (Game 5). I think he is past that just like we all are. He shouldn’t feel bad about that. He is one of the big reasons why we were in that position. Unfortunately, it didn’t work for him that night. We expect him to be the guy he was tonight.”
Storen warmed up a chilly Wednesday night (a balmy 45 degrees at first pitch, but mid-30s when Storen arrived) and earned a hold by getting a 1-2-3 eighth inning. He got it done with a pair of flyouts and a strikeout of the Marlins’ Chris Coghlan on his patented slider. Storen said it was good to be out on the mound at Nationals Park in a regular season game.
“It just felt comfortable more than anything,” Storen said. “When you go out and get in a game like that, a tight game. It is fun. It’s fun to get those old juices flowing again. It’s what locks me in.”
Nationals manager Davey Johnson said this was important for Storen to get in a real game after spring training wrapped up last week.
“I thought he threw the ball great today,” Johnson said. “He threw some good located fastballs. He wasn’t trying to overthrow. He made some good pitches.”
And the bullpen showed its strength again with Ryan Mattheus throwing a scoreless seventh and Rafael Soriano a scoreless ninth for his second save in as many games.
“It was a different cast of characters out of the bullpen, except for Soriano,” Johnson said. “But I have confidence in everyone in the bullpen.”