Dan Haren got robbed of a win today when the Braves came back to take a late lead in the first game of today's doubleheader. But the veteran right-hander couldn't seem to care much less about that.
Given all that happened in the D.C. community yesterday with the tragic shooting at the Navy Yard, just blocks from Nats Park, Haren was more concerned with boosting fans' spirits and giving everyone a reason to smile again. And while his six innings of one-run ball weren't enough to lead the Nationals to a victory, he was able to bask in the moment after the Nats came back on Craig Kimbrel with three runs in the ninth to earn a big 6-5 win.
"I wanted to do well. I really wanted to do well," said Haren, who said he still had yesterday's incident on his mind throughout the afternoon today. "I know that there wasn't too many people at the game because of the whole ticket situation and people had to work today. But I really, really wanted it bad, just to fire up people that are watching. Just to make a few people feel good. I wanted, I really wanted the game bad. I'm glad I did well, and it was even cooler to see how we came back. ...
"I thought it was really cool getting to wear the blue jerseys and I heard about that yesterday. You only wear them for special occasions. The last time I pitched, I wore the jersey, in New York. September 11 was five or six days ago. So I think to wear it and have that 'W' on our chest with the red, white and blue in it and the Navy hats, I thought it was really cool. Obviously, winning the game, too, but there's more to life than baseball. I think everyone in here knows that."
On top of all the emotion that came with earning a dramatic win the day after the neighborhood was rocked by the mass shooting at the Navy Yard, Haren was happy to see the Nats come back on the Braves, a team that has been on the winning end of quite a few close games between these teams this season.
"They've really had our number and I don't think we'd beat them at home," Haren said. "Losing a game like that, coming in here and having to wait three hours (before the nightcap) would be really tough. So definitely a nice atmosphere in here now for a few hours, and go out there and we've got to get another one. It'll be fun.
"I'm proud of really the way the guys have come together. I think we've grown close as a unit. Also proud of us putting on this run for Davey. This is, I guess, it for him. So we're not going down without a fight. That's for sure."
Haren was also happy to see reliever Tyler Clippard's spirits buoyed by the walk-off win shortly after Clippard had blown a lead in the eighth inning and allowed the Braves to take a lead on Evan Gattis' two-run homer.
"Clip gave up the home run, I saw him in here. He felt terrible," Haren said. "He was yelling for 15 minutes straight. He was screaming in his locker. So, how many times has the guy picked us up this year in huge games? So many holds, the guy pitches six out of seven days. The guy's been money all year. And it's nice for us to pick him up once.
"I know after the game, he was going crazy, too. So he felt great about it. It just shows you, this is the time of the year where you kind of throw personal stuff out the window and it's just about winning the game."
What's gone right for the Nats lately after all that went wrong early in the season? Haren said he isn't sure of specifics, but he likes what he's seen during this recent stretch, which has seen the Nats win 26 of their last 36 games.
"We started winning games, we started beating teams we were supposed to beat, stuff that we hadn't done earlier in the year," Haren said. "We just got rolling. We knew we had a run in us. Unfortunately it took five months, really, for us to get going, but hopefully it's not too little, too late. But like I said, regardless, I'm really proud of the guys, the way we've come together and really played good baseball for a while."
Meanwhile, Ian Desmond (hamstring) will stay in the lineup and start game two of the doubleheader, but Wilson Ramos will finally get a game off after starting 24 straight behind the plate.
Here are the lineups for the nightcap:
For the Nats
CF Denard Span
3B Ryan Zimmerman
RF Jayson Werth
LF Bryce Harper
SS Ian Desmond
1B Adam LaRoche
2B Steve Lombardozzi
C Jhonatan Solano
RHP Tanner Roark
For the Braves
CF Jordan Schafer
RF Justin Upton
1B Freddie Freeman
LF Evan Gattis
3B Chris Johnson
C Gerald Laird
2B Dan Uggla
SS Andrelton Simmons
RHP Freddy Garcia