Regardless of how he performs, whether he's thrown seven scoreless innings or gotten lit up by the opposition, Dan Haren will always stand up after a game and give a brutally honest assessment of his start. Unfortunately for Haren, he's had as many rough outings to assess this season as he's had stellar ones.
Haren went just four innings in tonight's 10-1 Nationals loss to the Mets, allowing five runs on seven hits. Three of those seven hits were home runs.
In his 12 outings this season, Haren has now gone five or fewer innings in six of them, and his disappointing start tonight comes six days after he allowed just two runs over 7 1/3 strong innings in hitter-friendly Camden Yards.
"I mean, it's just very disappointing, obviously," Haren said. "I feel bad for the guys. I'm letting them down. I can't be this inconsistent. I'm the same guy that (six) days ago went through one of the toughest lineups in baseball (against the Orioles) and kept us there. To lay another egg tonight is just ... I've got to be better. I've got to pick it up for these guys. No one feels worse about it than I do. But what can I do?
"I just didn't have much again. I've got to find ways even when I don't have my best stuff to go out there and compete, keep us in the game because it's kind of getting out of hand. If I'm not throwing the ball well, it's really bad. If I'm throwing the ball well, everything's fine. But there's like no in-between. There's nothing really different. I left balls up in the zone. Ball's right down the middle, they're professional hitters. That's what they do."
Haren was asked whether he's been able to notice anything consistent between his subpar outings.
"I have no idea," he said. "It's not for lack of trying. I'm going out there, I'm doing my best. Like I said before, I feel like I'm letting down the team, fans, front office, everybody. No one feels worse about it than me, but I've got to take the ball in five days and I've got to believe because the team needs me. And I know I'm good. I've been good at times this year. Just no consistency whatsoever.
"This is one of the toughest stretches I've had. I've been pitching in the big leagues since 2003; I don't remember many times as tough as this one where it was just so up and down where I feel good one day and so bad the next."
While with the Angels last season, Haren landed on the disabled list with a back injury, marking the first time in his career he'd seen the DL. There were also questions about Haren's back this offseason, but Haren says he feels completely fine health-wise at this point.
"Body-wise, I have no excuses," Haren said. "I'm healthy. If it was something, that'd be an easy way out, to say, 'Oh I'm hurt.' But I'm not hurt. I'm just not getting the job done."
The Nats looked like they'd started to build some momentum last night with a 3-2 comeback win over the Mets. Their bats had come alive in the ninth inning and the players had gotten to celebrate their first walk-off victory of the season. That momentum all came crashing back down tonight.
"When I say I let the team down, that's kinda what I mean," Haren said. "It was up to me to keep the momentum going, and we scored one in the first and I just couldn't hold them down. I just made too many mistakes and it got out of hand, and before you knew it, it was 5-1. So yeah, it was such a good feeling last night and pretty much the opposite today. The team's got to bounce back and just look ahead."