Dan Haren had struggled thus far this season, with a 2-3 record and 6.29 ERA before last night. He failed to go beyond the fifth inning in any of his first four starts, but put up a decent effort in his previous start, allowing two runs in six innings. Still, he earned derisive nicknames like “HRen” and was widely regarded as the worst starter in the Nats’ rotation. That is, until last night, when he dominated for eight innings to send the Nats to a 3-1 win over the Braves and the series split in Atlanta.
Most Important Nationals Hit: Denard Span‘s two-run double (+16.5%)
With the Nationals leading 1-0 in the second inning, Dan Haren made a one-out sacrifice bunt to move two runners into scoring position with two outs. Span, who led the game off with a double the inning before, scored both runners with another double down the left field line that snuck in between third baseman Chris Johnson and the bag and into left field. It was initially ruled an error, but changed a few innings later.
Most Important Nationals Pitch: Dan Uggla‘s Solo Homer (-6.8%)
Haren was cruising, having allowed only two hits, until there were two outs in the seventh inning, when noted Nats killer Uggla came to the plate and promptly deposited a pitch in the left field bleachers. The hit had anxious Nats fans calling for his removal, but manager Davey Johnson came to check on him and chose to leave him in the game. Haren delivered on this faith, allowing only one more hit in recording four more outs.
Champ of the Game: Haren (+31.5%) was stellar, allowing one run on four hits in eight innings while striking out only four. His season ERA is now lower than Gio Gonzalez‘s. For Atlanta, Reed Johnson (+5.1%) was 1-1, with an eighth inning single.