Prior to the 2012 season, Dan Harenwas considered to be one of the top 15 best starters in baseball. The right hander averaged a 3.50 ERA from 2006-2011 while consistently throwing over 200 innings per year. Last year in Anaheim, Haren suffered a back injury that impeded his performance. On Saturday afternoon, Haren turned in a start reminiscent of his Arizona and Oakland years as the Nats secured at least a series tie with a 4-1 victory over the Mets.
Jul 27, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals left fielder Bryce Harper (34) is congratulated by Dan Haren (15) after both scored on Harpers two run homer during the third inning against the New York Mets at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Haren(5-11) was simply marvelous against the Mets. The veteran righty didn’t allow a hit until the fourth inning, throwing seven innings of one run ball. He struck out six and walked one while allowing only three base hits. Since his return from the DL, Haren has pitched much better than he did in the first half. His two seamer seems to have regained a lot of life and his splitter has returned to it’s old effectiveness. The Nationals hope this is a sign of things to come as an effective Dan Haren would be a huge boost in a second half comeback attempt in the NL East.
Continuing it’s trend in the most recent week, Washington’s offense was entirely reliant on the long ball. Facing Dillon Gee(7-8), who had dominated the Nats in the first half, the Nationals broke out for four runs on three home runs. In the second inning, Ian Desmond lifted an offspeed pitch into the Red Porch seats for his 16th home run of the year. The very next pitch ended up in the right field seats for Denard Span‘s first home run as a Nat. After a Dan Haren lead off double in the third inning, Bryce Harper energized the home crowd by lining a pitch just over the center field wall for a four run lead. That lead would stand until the sixth inning, when the Mets got on the scoreboard courtesy of a David Wright RBI single.
After Tyler Clippard fired a scoreless eighth inning with two strikeouts, the floodgates opened and the game was delayed for just over an hour. Rafael Soriano came in in the ninth to end the game for his 26th save of the year.
On Sunday, the task of securing a series victory falls on the shoulders of rookie Taylor Jordan(0-3), who takes on veteran right hander Carlos Torres(1-1) with the chance to pick up his first career victory and bring the Nats within two games of .500. First pitch is at 1:35