Prior to going on the disabled list in late June, Dan Haren had pitched to a 6.15 ERA, put up a 1.44 WHIP and allowed 2.1 home runs per nine innings.
Haren has since said that he wasn’t even really hurt when he went on the DL. He just used that time to reset and fix whatever mental issues he had going on after his confidence had been beaten down pretty good.
Whatever Haren told himself during that stretch, it’s worked wonders.
The veteran right-hander allowed just one run through six innings today, surrendering just three hits and striking out three.
Haren battled back from a shaky first inning to give the Nationals six strong on 98 pitches, 63 of which were strikes.
In his seven starts since coming off the DL, Haren now has a 2.30 ERA and a 0.84 WHIP, and has surrendered just 0.6 homers per nine innings.
He allowed a solo shot to Brandon Belt in the top of the sixth, but that’s the only real blemish on his line.
Haren is now in line for his eighth win of the season, which would remarkably put him alone in second place on the team rankings, behind just Jordan Zimmermann.
Fernando Abad worked a scoreless seventh inning for the Nats, and Tyler Clippard is now warming in the bullpen.
Davey Johnson had said before today’s game that both Clippard and Rafael Soriano were available today, but he hoped to stay off both guys in an attempt to keep them somewhat fresh going into the series against the Braves.
Clippard will apparently work the eighth, which might leave Drew Storen set to work the ninth in his first game back from the minors.
Update: It was, in fact, Soriano working the ninth for the third straight day, and he couldn’t get the job done this time around.
Soriano allowed a leadoff single to Buster Posey, walked Roger Kieschnick with two outs and then served up a three-run, go-ahead homer to pinch-hitter Hector Sanchez that gave the Giants a 4-3 lead.
It’s the first homer of the season for Sanchez and the first pinch-hit homer of his career.
It’s also the fifth blown save of the season for Soriano.
The homer came one pitch after Soriano thought he had strike three. A ball up, belt-high, was called a ball by home plate ump Jim Joyce, and instead of ending the game, it pushed the count to 3-2.
Sanchez took care of things from there.
Update II: That’ll do it. The Nats went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth, and their five-game winning streak is over.
The Nats lost 4-3, with Soriano’s fifth blown save sending them to a crushing loss. Instead of heading into Atlanta riding a wave of momentum, things have turned dreary again.