The good feeling from that three-game winning streak dissolved pretty quickly.
The downward spiral that is Dan Haren‘s season continued today, as he allowed six runs in just 3.1 innings and the Nationals (37-37) sputtered on both sides of the ball, getting hammered by a final of 7-1.
It started off ugly and went downhill from there for Haren. The game’s second batter, DJ LeMahieu, hit a solo home run and extended Haren’s MLB lead in homers allowed with 19. A double and a single scored another run, and another double drove home the inning’s third run with two outs. However, after that double, Haren quickly settled down. He got an out to end the inning, and pitched perfect innings in the second and third. But, just as he had lulled us into a false sense of security, the wheels came off again in the fourth. Two more runs crossed the plate with only one out, with more runners still on, and Davey Johnson had seen enough.
Haren was replaced by Ross Ohlendorf, making his first appearance since his start in Colorado. Ohlendorf let up a hit that scored one of his inherited runners but locked the inning down afterwards. Haren’s final line was gruesome: 3.1 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, 0 BB, 5 K. He is now last in baseball among starters in ERA and last in the NL in OPS against. To add insult to injury, Haren was heavily booed throughout the game, especially so when he was pulled. In his postgame press conference, Davey said he was “concerned” about Haren, and plans to talk to him during his next throwing session. He gave no indication about how the Nats might handle his role going forward, and indicated that they might skip his next start at least. His future will be much more clear once Davey sees that bullpen session.
Ohlendorf acquitted himself quite well in his first long relief outing. He bailed out the bullpen, pitching 4.2 innings and allowing just one run, a Nolan Arenado solo homer in the eighth, on five hits. He could be making a case to stay on board even when Ryan Mattheus returns from the DL, or perhaps take Haren’s rotation spot temporarily if he is shut down for a while or put on the DL.
Meanwhile, Jhoulys Chacin cruised. He mowed down the Nats, allowing no runs and five hits in seven innings. The lineup was a bit weakened after Jayson Werth was scratched with flu-like symptoms, but could get absolutely nothing going. Perhaps they were dampened by the sudden massive deficit, but for whatever reason they had no sustained offense, getting exactly one baserunner in six of Chacín’s seven innings. Only a solo shot by Ryan Zimmerman in the bottom of the ninth off Jose Lopez saved the Nats the indignity of a shutout. The Nats have scored a total of three runs in their past two games,
Fortunately, the saying “Momentum is only as good as the next day’s starting pitcher” swings both ways, and Ross Detwiler is pretty good. The Nats will try for a series win, and with Haren’s rotation spot in potential jeopardy (more on that later), perhaps the good feeling that was lost today can be recaptured. Regaining it will take more than just pitching, and the onus is on the offense to take it to Jorge De La Rosa, a tough lefty but one that the Nats tagged for three runs and a loss in 5.1 innings in Colorado last week.
Next Game: Sunday at Nationals Park, 1:35 PM. Detwiler (2-5, 3.34) v. De La Rosa (7-4, 3.21)