Storen’s stopper routine stuns Marlins

It was his seventh hold of the season.

He managed to get three straight outs.

Oh, yes, and did I mention the Marlins had two men in scoring position? And it was the eighth inning? And the Nationals had watched their 5-0 lead dwindle away until they led 6-4 as they looked to snap a season-high five-game losing skid? And the heart of the Marlins order was due up, led by the big bat of Carlos Lee?

I didn’t? Well, I should have.

I am talking about closer-turned-eighth-inning-super-saver Drew Storen.

Inheriting runners at second and third from Sean Burnett with none down, Storen proceeded to get Lee to slam a line drive right at center fielder Bryce Harper, who fired home to catcher Kurt Suzuki, forcing the runners to stay put.

The next batter, Giancarlo Stanton, struck out.

Then Justin Ruggiano grounded to third baseman Ryan Zimmerman to end the threat.

It was the best performance of 2012 for Storen, who missed 89 games at the beginning of the season after having bone chips removed from his throwing elbow.

MASN’s Bob Carpenter said it felt like the ninth inning. In a way, it was. The work that Storen put in to stop the rally really saved the game for the Nationals.

Nationals went on to win the gam, 8-4.

Storen said he came out of the bullpen with one focus.

“Just attack them,” Storen told MASN’s Kristina Akra on “Nats Xtra.” “Carlos Lee is a great hitter. I wanted to try to attack them and pound the zone, see what happens. Use that defense a little bit.”

Storen said his slider was good today and he was able to throw it for strikes.

Manager Davey Johnson said Storen didn’t just hold the game or save it, he may have gone one step further.

“Storen won the game for us,” said manager Davey Johnson. “He had to go through the very hot middle of their order and he made great pitches.”

It was a big win for the Nationals, but also big for Storen. He can continue to feel like he can be put in any situation and deliver. That is the mindset you want from your stopper. This will certainly help the team as well with the confident St. Louis Cardinals arriving at Nationals Park on Thursday.

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