Haren’s tough 2013 season hits a new low (Nats lose 7-1)

The Nationals have insisted that they have confidence in Dan Haren, despite his bloated numbers this season.

You wonder how much longer that confidence will last.

Haren was pulled after just 3 1/3 innings today, capping his worst start of what has already been a really rough 2013 campaign.

The 32-year-old allowed six runs on seven hits. He hit a batter, threw two wild pitches, allowed four extra-base hits and was all over the place from the get-go.

He allowed three runs in the first inning, surrendering a solo homer to DJ LeMahieu, a double to Carlos Gonzalez, an RBI single to Michael Cuddyer and an RBI double to Corey Dickerson - Dickerson’s first major league hit.

Haren then looked like he might be settling in, throwing perfect second and third innings, setting down all six batters with three strikeouts. But things fell apart in the fourth, when Haren allowed four of the first five batters he faced to reach base.

After Haren hit the No. 8 batter, Josh Rutledge, pitching coach Steve McCatty came out to have a chat with his starter. But whatever was said didn’t have its intended effect.

Haren then allowed the opposing pitcher, Jhoulys Chacin, to slap an RBI single to right, and Davey Johnson had seen enough. He came out to get Haren and called on Ross Ohlendorf out of the bullpen.

Haren came off the mound to a chorus of boos from the Nats Park crowd. It must’ve been a tough walk back to the dugout for the veteran, who is a great teammate and a stand-up guy, but now the owner of a 6.15 ERA, worst among major league starters.

Ohlendorf is on to try and keep this a game, but this might also double as an audition for him. The Nats will have to decide whether they can keep running Haren out there every fifth day given how ineffective he’s been, and Ohlendorf could be the top candidate to replace Haren in the rotation if the Nats do go another route.

It’s 6-0 Rockies after four.

Update: It’s still 6-0 Rockies after six, and the Nationals have managed just four hits off Chacin thus far.

They’ve put just two runners past first base, but haven’t done anything when they were able to get chances. They’re 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position and have given Chacin little reason to stress while on the mound.

Haren put the Nats in a deep hole, but they’re doing nothing to dig their way out so far. Chacin came into today’s game with a 4.26 ERA, which isn’t awful but isn’t good.

Still, the Nats haven’t been able to touch the 25-year-old right-hander, and barring a major comeback, will see their three-game winning streak end today.

Update II: Not much has gone right for the Nats today. Ohlendorf was one of the few things that did.

Ohlendorf went 4 2/3 innings in relief of Haren, allowing just one run on four hits. He walked none and struck out four.

In his two appearances as a National, Ohlendorf has worked 10 2/3 innings, allowed two earned runs and just six hits, walked two and struck out six. He’s looked great so far, and gave the Nats a big boost today by saving the bullpen after Haren couldn’t get through the fourth inning.

It’ll be really interesting to see what the Nats choose to do with Haren and Ohlendorf from here.

It’s 7-0 Rockies as we go to the ninth.

Update III: At least they avoided the shutout.

The Nats lost to the Rockies 7-1, putting an end to their modest three-game winning streak and putting them back at .500 at 37-37 on the season.

Ryan Zimmerman’s solo homer in the ninth prevented the Nats from being shut out for the ninth time this season, but this is the 20th time they’ve scored one run or fewer.

One step forward, one step back.

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