Dan Haren allowed three times as many hits as Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmerman combined. He’s awful, right? Much to the contrary, he allowed six hits and two runs in six innings in his best start yet as a Nat. The offense had significant success for the second time in third game after an extremely poor stretch, giving the strong Haren more than enough for the Nats to take the third straight game against Cincinnati.
Most Important Nationals Hit: Dan Haren’s RBI single (+12.0%)
With the game scoreless in the second, Dan Haren came up with two men on and two outs. This was a spot in which last week’s Nationals’ offense would have meekly rolled over and stranded the men, but even in the pitcher’s spot, this offense was different. Haren stroked a single to score Ian Desmond and move Anthony Rendon to third, which was so influential in terms of Win Probability Added because it was the game’s first run. As a testament to the Nats’ new confidence, Span followed Haren with another two-out single to score Rendon and put the Nats up two.
Most Important Nationals Pitch: Zack Cozart‘s flyout (+8.2%)
WPA credits this to pitcher Tyler Clippard for inducing it, but the credit all belongs to Denard Span. With the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh, it looked like the Reds were preparing to make a comeback, trailing by only three. Cozart hit a ball quite well to center field, and for a second it looked as though the game was tied, but Span covered a lot of ground to make a great catch and preserve the lead.
Champ of the Game: For the first time this season, Haren (+24.5%) is rewarded for his efforts. His +14.4% pitching WPA alone would have been enough, but his +10.1% offensive contribution, mainly from his RBI single, boosted him head and shoulders above everyone else in what was undoubtedly his best game of the year. Cincinnati’s Brandon Phillips (-8.4%) was 3-4 with an RBI.
Chump of the Game: Sadly, it was Adam LaRoche (-6.7%) once again. He is now 0-20 in his last seven games, and is absolutely mired in a terrible slump that has seen his batting average drop to .143. However, the rest of the team’s offensive success will surely spread to him as well soon. For the Reds, starter Mike Leake (+25.7%) was pulled after just three innings, in which he let on nine baserunners and allowed three runs to score.