May 3, 2013, 3:55 AM EST
Dan Haren allowed just one run and four hits in eight stellar innings.
ATLANTA — As dominant and as efficient as he’d been all night, Dan Haren was showing some signs of fatigue in the bottom of the eighth inning Thursday night. Despite having allowed only one run and four hits to the Braves, the veteran right-hander was suddenly in a spot where one bad pitch could result in a game-tying homer.
So as Davey Johnson made the slow walk from the Nationals’ dugout to the mound, Haren (like everyone else at Turner Field) knew what was next.
“He was gonna take the ball from me,” the right-hander said.
Not so fast. Johnson’s intention may have been to signal for Drew Storen out of the bullpen, but first he needed the answer to one question.
“Heck of a ballgame. How you feeling?” Johnson asked.
“I feel great,” Haren replied.
“Good,” Johnson fired back. “I’m out of here.”
Having just been given a resounding vote of confidence, Haren promptly rewarded his manager for the decision. He struck out Chris Johnson to end the eighth and pumped his fist as he skipped off the mound, having laid the groundwork for a 3-1 victory, the Nationals’ second straight over a Braves club that had looked unbeatable to that point.
COUNTDOWN TO OPENING DAY
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As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...
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