Storen Struggles Continue

Drew Storen has struggled since giving up four runs in playoff game five against the St. Louis Cardinals to eliminate the Nationals from the playoffs last year.  The Nationals did not show a lot of confidence in him when they went out and acquired Rafael Soriano to be their closer this year.  Storen came out to pitch the eighth in a set up role in a 3-3 game.  His struggles continued.

He issued a one out walk to Michael Young.  With two out Delmon Young slipped a ground ball past the first base bag, rolling to the ball girl.  By the time Bryce got to the ball Michael Young was halfway between second and third.  Harper struggled to pick the ball up and Young raced home.  Young did not have the speed to get to second on the hit, being outhustled by a 36 year old.  The Phillies sent in a pinch runner Michael Martinez for Young and he was able to race home when Dominic Brown lined Storen’s next pitch into the right centerfield gap.  With the impotency of the Nationals offense a 5-3 deficit was too difficult to overcome.

For Storen his ERA has risen to 5.21.  In his last seven outings he has given up runs in every other outing, picking up two blown saves and now a loss along the way.

Dan Haren was brilliant for much of the game.  It was the rare instances when he was not brilliant that hurt him.  In the second inning he gave up a homerun to Dominic Brown on the first pitch he threw to him.  This was after he had struck out four Phillies in a row.  After a Delmon Young strikeout Brown deposited Haren’s next pitch into the right field bleachers.  Haren’s first pitch to Eric Kratz was deposited into the centerfield bleachers for a 2-0 Phillies lead.

The Nationals whittled at the lead, unable to generate enough offense to put up the crooked numbers.  In the third inning singles by Denard Span, Bryce Harper and Adam LaRoche scored one run.  With the bases loaded and two outs Kurt Suzuki tried to check his swing and grounded a ball weakly to first to prevent the appearance of crooked numbers appearing on the scoreboard.

The Nationals tied it in the second, getting the benefit of an infield single by Steve Lombardozzi and a Jimmie Rollins throwing error to get him to second.  A wild pitch advanced Lombo to third where he scored on a Denard Span single.  Span stole second but Bryce Harper could not drive him in, lifting a fly ball to right to end the inning.

Dan Haren continued his brilliance after the two homer barrage, pushing his strike out numbers to eight.  He would end the day with ten strikeouts.  With two outs in the fifth his first pitch to Jonathan Pettibone was driven over a shallow Denard Span, resulting in a double.  Jimmie Rollins lined a 1-2 pitch just inside the right field line for another double to score Pettibone and give the Phillies a 3-2 lead.

In the bottom frame Adam LaRoche stroked a Pettibone pitch into the left field bullpen to tie the game at 3-3.  That is where it stayed until Storen gave up the two runs in the eighth.  The Nationals stranded two runners in the seventh when Charlie Manuel brought in Chad Durbin to replace Antonio Bastardo to face Ian Desmond.  Ian had a poor swing to lift a ball to shallow center to end the threat.  They also stranded runners on first and second in the eighth when Denard Span lined a ball to right.  John Mayberry was able to track a ball Delmon Young may have allowed roll to the wall for a 2-run double.

Game Notes: Davey Johnson has vowed not to shave until the Nationals offense breaks out.  There was some discussion as to whether yesterday’s five run outburst would be considered a breakout.  The Nationals must like his beard.  They have averaged just above three runs per game in the month of May and their 167 runs scored is only ahead of the Dodgers and Marlins in the National League.  The Dodgers had played two less games than the Nationals and are only six runs back of the Nationals so the Nationals only having bragging rights over the Marlins at this point…Ryan Howard barely made contact yesterday.  He struck out in all four of his at bats…Tyler Moore made a long run on a Freddy Galvis fly ball but eventually had it drop out of his glove for a two base error once he reached the ball.  He did get a single, but with his below average defense he needs to hit better than .139 to stay in the lineup.  Fortunately for him, his alternative Roger Bernadina is hitting .113…On another Freddy Galvis at bat, a beautiful drag bunt, Steve Lombardozzi tried to do a pick up and throw with his glove, but the ball barely left his glove, hit his knee and rolled to LaRoche at first before Galvis could reach the bag.  Myworld would like to see the replay on that…Delmon Young is not going to help the Phillies in the long run.  He may have got the game winning hit, but his weight should be a concern.  He has no range in the outfield and is a base clogger when on the bases.  You wonder what kind of scouting report the Phillies got on him before they signed him…Jeff Kobernus made his major league debut as a pinch runner.  He later played out in left field…Jimmie Rollins was hit in the face on a pick off attempt by Antonio Bastardo.  It appeared Bryce Harper got in front of the ball blocking the view of Rollins.  Fortunately, it was only a lob toss by Bastardo…Dominic Brown is turning into a solid player for the Phillies.  He and Galvis are two young players the Phillies can build around for their next playoff runs.  Once they fall out of contention this year they should trade all their veterans for prospects to re-build.  Trading two young pitchers for Ben Revere was a mistake.  Philly fans are now witnessing his left field arm out in center and his lack of power and on base acumen.

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