Garcia’s Forkball Shuts Down Nationals Bats, Orioles Win


May 30, 2013; Baltimore, MD, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Dan Haren (15) leaves the game in the eighth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The Orioles defeated the Nationals 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Based on the ERA’s of last night’s starting pitchers and the offensive output of the prior game between the Nationals and the Orioles, the smart money expected another hitfest by both teams. Instead, the game turned into a pitcher’s duel between veterans Dan Haren and Freddy Garcia, and the Orioles beat the Nationals 2-0 in the final game of the series between the two local rivals.

Haren had a great outing for the Nats, going 7 1/3 innings and only giving up two runs. Unfortunately, the Nationals anemic offense showed up for this game, only getting three hits and no runs off Garcia. Garcia fooled the Nats hitters with his forkball all night. The Nats hitters, who were clearly pressing and overeager, could not lay off pitches from Garcia that were balls by the time they reached the plate. Instead of employing the Carlos Marmol strategy–don’t swing at anything–the Nats hitters flailed over and over again at pitches off the plate and down in the dirt.

Three Nationals hitters managed to make contact for hits against Garcia. The Nats threatened in the top of the second. Adam LaRoche, who was serving as the DH for this game, singled to start the inning. Ian Desmond followed with a bunt single. The Nats had two on and no one out. Tyler Moore grounded out, advancing both runners. Chad Tracy flew out to shallow left field, not deep enough to score LaRoche from third. Kurt Suzuki popped out, and the Nats left two in scoring position. Roger Bernadina singled in the sixth with two outs, but Ryan Zimmerman grounded out to end the inning and the offensive output for the Nationals. It must be noted that Nick Markakis absolutely robbed Denard Span of a double or triple in the third inning with a spectacular diving catch of a ball Span sent to right.

Orioles hitters, by contrast, took advantage of the few opportunities they were given by Haren. In the third inning, Ryan Flaherty singled to lead off the inning. Haren got the next two outs, but then Manny Machado singled to put two on, and Markakis doubled to score Flaherty. Haren got Adam Jones to strike out, getting out of the inning without further damage. The Orioles scored their other run in the eighth. With Haren still pitching and one out, Nate McLouth doubled followed by a Machado RBI double. The Orioles had scored another run, and Haren was chased from the game.

Fernando Abad came in to relieve Haren and induced a fly ball from Markakis to shallow right where Bernadina was stationed. Danny Espinosa went back on the ball, and Bernadina came in. Espinosa did not get out of the way when Bernadina called him off and the Shark could not make the catch reaching over Espinosa. The ball dropped for a single. Drew Storen was then brought in to try to get Adam Jones out. Espinosa redeemed his miscue by starting a tough double play on a ball hit sharply by Jones to end the inning.

Garcia went eight innings with the shutout. Jim Johnson pitched the ninth for the Orioles, getting his seventeenth save of the season and his second in two nights.

Next Game: The Nationals travel to Atlanta to start a series against the division leading Braves. The game tonight starts at 7:30 p.m. EST with what is potentially a great pitching matchup. Stephen Strasburg (3-5, 2.49 ERA) starts for the Nationals, while Julio Teheran (3-1, 3.67 ERA) takes the mound for the Braves.