Davey Johnson has had many more gloomy postgame press conferences this season than he expected he’d have, days where he’s had to sit in front of the cameras and discuss another frustrating loss.
Today was not one of those days.
A few minutes after the Nationals’ 4-1 win over the Mets, Johnson bounded into his chair behind the press conference table with a giant smile on his face and didn’t even wait for a reporter to ask a question.
“How about (Dan) Haren? How about that?” the giddy Nationals manager asked. “He was great and still had some left in the tank, too. That was outstanding.”
Haren delivered a gem today, working seven innings and allowing just three hits and a single run. He walked one and struck out six, relying mostly on his fastball/cutter combo and mixing in some biting splitters and sharp curveballs to keep the Mets honest.
The win was Haren’s first since May 9, a span of 11 starts in between victories.
“Had a bigger spread in (the velocity of) his pitches, which was great,” Johnson said. “I think that’s more him. He did that against Atlanta and he hadn’t been doing that. Most of his stuff has been harder so that was good.”
Another key for Haren today was his location. Everything was down in the zone, keeping the ball out of the dangerous part of the plate.
“Much better. Very consistent,” Johnson said. “He didn’t have any blips on the screen like one bad inning where a guy came up. He was outstanding.”
Since coming off the disabled list, Haren has pitched to a 3.13 ERA in four starts, compared to the 6.15 ERA he put up prior to that stint on the DL. It’s still a relatively small sample size, but Johnson seems confident that Haren will be able to carry this stretch through the rest of the season.
“He’s good. He’s a veteran. He’s got it now,” Johnson said. “He’s been throwing the ball after the break better than in the first half so far. Except for those balls (Andrew) McCutchen hit.
“Gotta have him (down the stretch). To be consistent and have win streaks, we gotta have them all and throwing the ball well.”
The Nats gave Haren a 4-0 cushion after three innings thanks to three homers - back-to-back solo shots by Ian Desmond and Denard Span and a two-run bomb by Bryce Harper.
Span’s longball was his first of the season.
“He swung at the first pitch. We all about fell out on the bench,” Johnson joked. “But he did that on the road (in) Miami. When he goes from the one hole to the seven hole, he becomes more aggressive. I like that. Good day. After a long day yesterday.”