Dan Haren was asked after tonight’s game whether he viewed his outing - in which he allowed three runs on six hits over five-plus innings - as a step in the right direction after failing to reach the sixth inning in any of his previous three starts.
“Not really,” Haren said. “I want more out of myself than five innings, giving up three runs and (Craig) Stammen bailing me out of that jam. I’ve been around for 10 years. I’m used to throwing seven, eight innings every time. I’ve thrown 200 innings (in a season) many times. Going five innings, you’re not going to do that.
“Positive thing is health-wise, I feel really good. And I just gotta keep believing in myself. I’ll take the ball in five days, and when I step on the mound I’m going to expect to win.”
After starting the night strong, Haren allowed two runs in the third inning tonight when Allen Craig ripped a double to left-center, the ball bouncing off Denard Span’s glove and onto the warning track, allowing Pete Kozma and Matt Carpenter to score.
He then worked scoreless innings in the fourth and fifth, but fell apart in the sixth, failing to retire any of the four batters he faced. Yadier Molina’s RBI single provided the game-winning run, and if not for Stammen’s remarkable cleanup job in relief of Haren, when he worked out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam, things could’ve looked a good bit worse.
“I felt really good (in the sixth),” Haren said. “I’ve compared this year to last year and the year past. Stuff-wise was either the same or better. My split was good today. I gotta be better. No one is more frustrated than I am. I gotta give us a better chance to win.”
Two of the more surprising parts of Haren’s stat line tonight were the three walks he allowed and the one hit-by-pitch. Known for his control, Haren has now walked four and hit three batters in 18 1/3 innings this season.
“The walks really frustrate me,” Haren said. “The 3-1 to Carpenter (in the third,) I thought was there. The 3-2 to Freese (in the sixth) was a little bit in. I’ve kind of been nibbling a little bit. I think I was getting hit early in the season just being a little too aggressive. Too many good pitches to hit. The walks - it really irks me. Against a lineup like that, if you walk guys and turn the lineup over, it’s going to be tough.”
Haren was able to have success tonight, he said, working in on right-handed hitters. That was something that the righty spent much of spring training focusing on, and after failing to have success in his first three starts, Haren said he came into this outing determined to mix stuff up and come in on righties a bit more.
He also threw more splitters and cutters today than he had in previous starts, again attempting to give hitters a new look.
A guy that has had lots of success over his 11-year career, Haren is having a little trouble dealing with this rough stretch.
“It’s been eating at me. It really has,” Haren said. “This week I tried to make a conscious effort to have more fun out there and not put so much stress on myself. But I want to do well more than anybody. I want to do well for the team. I don’t care about my numbers or whatever. I just want the team to do well. When we lose, and I don’t pitch good, I’m not happy. Being a starting pitcher, the toughest days when you don’t pitch well are the days in between. Right now I wish I could get back out there. But now I’ve got to wait five days.
“I feel confident... when I take the ball and get out there, I feel like I’m going to win that game. Maybe my first start, coming out of spring, I was pitching not to lose. Now, I’m pitching to win. It’s close. It’s going to turn around. I’ve just got to keep believing in myself.
“I’ve had stretches like this, and baseball will humble you. When you’re up, it’ll bring you down. But it’s going to turn around. I’m confident because I feel good. That’s the No. 1 thing.”