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There will be days like this for Drew Storen in the major leagues. The likelihood of them occurring against the Phillies, in Citizens Bank Park, is higher than normal.
The Nationals had a 6-3 lead in the ninth inning of Sunday's game against the Phillies, having clawed their way ahead despite a subpar start from Yunesky Maya. They appeared on the verge of avoiding a sweep in Philadelphia. And then the Phillies do what they've done so well to the Nationals over the last few years.
Bob Carpenter and Ray Knight ask Jim Riggleman about the Nats' 7-6 loss to the Phillies
It started with a Placido Polanco single, up the middle against Storen's slider. Then the rookie right-hander's struggles with fastball command, which have cropped up at various times throughout the season, got him in trouble.
His sinker to Chase Utley was on the outer half of the zone, but stayed up enough that Utley punched it to left for a double. He threw a gift to Ryan Howard, who sent an over-the-middle sinker back up the middle for a two-run single.
The final blow came from Jayson Werth, who fought Storen over the course of an eight-pitch at-bat. The final pitch was a fastball with just three inches of downward movement on it. Werth launched it over the center field fence for a walk-off homer, giving the Phillies a 7-6 win and a sweep, and leaving Storen with a few teachable moments to correct.
He's been superb lately, only allowing six hits in his last six appearances. But close games haven't treated Storen well; he's got a 1.38 strikeout-to-walk ratio in high-leverage situations, compared to a 2.0 ratio in medium leverage and 3.14 in low leverage. In a high-leverage situation on Sunday, Storen got beat by the Phillies the way so many Nationals closers have before.