It’s been a strange first two innings for Dan Haren tonight.
With the exception of two pitches, Haren has been absolutely dominant thus far. He’s struck out five through two innings, using all his pitches effectively.
He struck out four Phillies in a row at one point, using a different pitch to put away each hitter.
Haren got Freddy Galvis with a curveball, Michael Young with a cutter, Ryan Howard with a splitter and Michael Young with a four-seam fastball.
But, those two pitches...
Haren served up back-to-back home runs on back-to-back pitches to Domonic Brown and Erik Kratz and, despite the five strikeouts, Haren and the Nationals already trail 2-0.
The Brown homer ended the streak of four straight Ks, and it came on the first pitch the Phillies left fielder saw. Haren hung a curve over the heart of the plate, and Brown mashed it into the seats in right for his ninth longball of the season.
Kratz then ambushed Haren, as well, taking an 86 mph cutter out to left-center to make it a two-run Phillies lead.
The longball has been an issue for Haren this season; he has now allowed 12 home runs in nine-plus starts this year, by far the most on the Nats’ staff and the third-most in the majors.
Gio Gonzalez has allowed the second-most homers on the Nationals this season; he’s allowed six in 10 starts.
Update: Haren now has a whopping seven strikeouts - a season-high - through four innings, and he’s still allowed just those two hits so far. Unfortunately for him and the Nats, the hits each left the yard.
The Nats were able to even the score at 2-2, getting single runs in the third and fourth innings.
Adam LaRoche continues to roll, as he smoked a two-out RBI single in the third to bring in Denard Span with the Nats’ first run. LaRoche now has 22 RBIs on the season, one behind
Span then delivered in the fourth, dropping a run-scoring single into right-center just a pitch after he barely missed a two-run homer down the right field line. The long fly ball came down just feet foul, but Span bounced back by bringing in Steve Lombardozzi to knot the game. Span is now 3-for-3 with a stolen base tonight.
Update II: The Phillies took a 3-2 lead in the top of the fifth thanks to back-to-back doubles by the pitcher Jonathan Pettibone and Jimmy Rollins, but the Nats answered right back in the bottom half of the inning, with LaRoche’s solo homer knotting the game again.
It’s 3-3 after five entertaining frames.
LaRoche’s eighth homer of the season was a line drive shot into the visitors’ bullpen. The Nats haven’t been fooled at all by Pettibone tonight; they have now put up nine hits through just five innings, and have the Phillies’ starter at 97 pitches after five frames.
Haren has allowed just four hits, but all have been for extra bases. He’s at just 73 pitches through five, and continues to dazzle, having notched nine strikeouts so far.