The St. Louis Cardinals came to Nationals Park for the first time since last October. The outcome was the same as the last time these two teams met, as the Nationals lost to the Cardinals by a score of 3-2.
The pitchers for both teams were not starters for either team last year. Dan Haren went for the Nationals, while the Cardinals started one of their young phenoms, Shelby Miller. Both pitchers were effective for their respective teams. The story of this game was the lack of timely hitting by the Nats, who went 1-7 with runners in scoring position. The Cardinals were not much better, going 2-9 with RISP, but were able to squeak out that extra run which was the difference in this game.
Neither team scored until the top of the third inning, when the Cardinals scored two runs on a single by Pete Kozma, a sacrifice bunt by Miller, a walk given to Matt Carpenter by Haren and a double by Allen Craig. The Nationals struck back in the bottom of the fourth. Jayson Werth singled, Ian Desmond doubled scoring Werth, and Anthony Rendon doubled in Desmond for his first major league hit and RBI.
With the score tied two all, both starting pitchers remained in the game until the sixth inning. Haren’s place in the batting order came up in the bottom of the fifth and he batted, indicating that Davey Johnson was going to let him pitch in the sixth. This was the deepest Haren had gone into a game this year, and he did not pitch effectively. He was clearly gassed. The first batter he faced, Matt Holliday, was hit by a pitch. Haren then gave up a single to Carlos Beltran and an RBI single to Yadier Molina, scoring the Cards third run. He then walked David Freese. Johnson elected to lift Haren and bring in Craig Stammen into the bases loaded jam.
Stammen was magnificent. He induced John Jay to hit into a 3-2-3 double play, intentionally walked Pete Kozma to get to Miller, and struck him out to get out of the jam with no further damage. Stammen then pitched a scoreless seventh. Miller lasted into the bottom of the seventh inning. He got two quick outs, then Danny Espinosa singled and Kurt Suzuki walked to put two on. Cardinals manager Mike Matheny ended Miller’s night and brought in reliever Joe Kelly to face pinch hitter Chad Tracy. Tracy blooped a broken bat ball to right field, and Jay made a diving catch to rob Tracy and keep the Nats from scoring.
Both bullpens went toe to toe for the eighth and ninth innings, neither bullpen giving up a run. Ryan Mattheus pitched a one-two-three eighth inning. In the bottom of the eighth, the Nats had their chances against Cards reliever Trevor Rosenthal but could not deliver the hit the Nats needed to score a run. Denard Span lead off the eighth with a single. Werth struck out on a high inside fastball that was a ball. Bryce Harper drew a walk to put two on with one out. Adam LaRoche grounded out, but both runners advanced. Desmond struck out looking at a fastball right down the middle of the plate.
Drew Storen exorcised demons pitching the top of the ninth, getting his own one-two-three inning. Storen looked more effective in this game than at any point in time this year.
Edward Mujica got the save for the Cardinals, getting Rendon to strike out, Espinosa to ground out and Suzuki to fly out to end the game.
Next Game: Tuesday, April 23rd the Nationals and the Cardinals face off again at 7:05 p.m. Ross Detwiler (1-0, .90 ERA) starts for the Nationals, while Adam Wainwright (3-1, 2.48 ERA) starts for the Cardinals.