Over the last five weeks, Drew Storen has reverted to his 2011 form, when he saved 43 games, struck out nearly a batter per inning and posted a 2.75 ERA.
Storen had allowed an earned run in just one of his last 17 appearances coming into tonight and had talked about how he was feeling really confident against left-handed hitters lately, largely thanks to his improved feel of his changeup.
Tonight, called upon to work the eighth inning in a scoreless game, Storen wasn’t able to carry over that recent strong effort, and the Nationals are now in a 4-0 hole.
Storen allowed four earned runs in the eighth, with four hits and a walk allowing the Brewers to turn a tie ballgame into a comfortable lead.
Storen’s inability to get guys out was only compounded by his inability to hold runners on base. He allowed Logan Shafer, who singled leading off the inning, to swipe second base and move into scoring position with relative ease. A couple other times in the inning, Brewers runners had a bag stolen easily only to have to head back to their previous base due to a foul ball.
Things got bad for Storen when Martin Maldonado - the Brewers’ catcher, who had reached on an RBI double - took off for third and nearly made it to the bag before Storen had even delivered his pitch to the plate. Jeff Bianchi singled on the pitch, and Maldonado just cruised home with Milwaukee’s fourth run of the frame.
The Brewers clearly had a scouting report on Storen: Run, run, run.
Storen wasn’t helped out by Bryce Harper Maldonado’s fly ball on the warning track, a play that was ruled a double but could’ve easily been an error on Harper.
Harper seemed to be bracing for the left field wall, but the wall never came, and the ball popped out of his glove. That play allowed Juan Francisco to score, and instead of ending the inning with the Nats trailing 2-0, the dropped ball allowed Milwaukee to eventually tack on two more runs.
The Nats haven’t done anything offensively today, so they couldn’t afford this type of outing from one of their relievers. Storen has been tremendous lately, but he just didn’t have it tonight.
Update: That’ll do it. The Nats lost to the Brewers 4-0 in a game that probably left fans wanting to pull their hair out.
Stephen Strasburg threw seven scoreless innings, lowering his ERA to 2.24, but the outing went to waste.
After putting up 23 runs over their last two games, the Nats went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position and left 10 runners on base tonight. Storen got hit hard, but even if Nats pitchers had only allowed one run tonight, that wouldn’t have done it.
Back to one game above .500 at 42-41.