Nationals starter Craig Stammen is searching for two wins in a row today as he faces the New York Mets in the series finale on the Fourth of July at Nats Park.
Stammen (2-2) had a tremendous return to the hill Tuesday in Atlanta, going 7 1/3 innings, allowing five hits, two runs, two walks and striking out four batters. He also allowed only three hits through his first seven innings.
In reaching the eighth inning, it marked the longest outing for Stammen since April 19 against the Rockies.
A key to Stammen's win was getting the Braves' Melky Cabrera out with men on and two outs on a couple of different occasions.
"It is pretty important for me to get some outs when there are two outs in an inning and prevent more damage from happening. Me and Cat (Steve McCatty) talked about it a bunch of times. If you limit how many runs you allow with two oouts you will be a lot more successful.
Cabrera came up twice in those situations and I was able to get him out with some pretty good sinkers. I felt good facing him with my stuff and it worked out for me."
I knew I wasn't that far away from being a successful major league pitcher. I knew there was only one way to go. Take care of my business. Do what I can do. Not change a whole lot. Just get a little more comfortable. Take some time to take a little bit of a mental break. Get back to thinking the right way on the mound and I felt like mentally I was in the right place pitching in Atlanta."
Have you been able to keep up with John Lannan and what he is going through?
"We have talked several times. I talked to him right when he got sent down.
He is in the right frame of mind. He is in the same situation, thinking the same way I did. He is going down there and working his butt off. You don't have to worry about John Lannan. He is going to be fine."
While at Syracuse, tell me about how you worked on getting ahead in the count instead of trying to get the hitter out with just one pitch.
"It was something I was able to work on in Triple-A. Sometimes it is not always result oriented down there. You allowed to kind of fine tune some things. So when you get back to the big leagues, you are a little bit different, you have extra cards in your pocket.
That was a big thing for me is just becoming a better pitcher. I was learning how to set up hitters and being able to get them out in several different ways."