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Drew Storen comes through in Nats’ 3-1 win over Cardinals

Apr 19, 2014, 9:41 AM EDT

Photo by USA Today Photo by USA Today

Nursing a 3-1 lead in the top of the eighth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals – a team they had not beaten in eight consecutive tries – the Nationals nearly saw it slip away.

Struggling relief pitcher Tyler Clippard took over for starter Gio Gonzalez to begin the inning, and needed 26 pitches to record his first out. He began by allowing a double to Jon Jay, a hard-hit liner off the Geico sign in right field. Jay took eight pitches before getting hold of a 81 mile per hour changeup.

Clippard then walked Matt Carpenter on five pitches to put two men on with Jhonny Peralta up next. Peralta worked a 12-pitch at-bat, including eight foul balls, before grounding out and finally giving Clippard a chance to breath. But Matt Holliday was up next, and Matt Williams opted to reach into his bullpen again.

Out came Drew Storen to face the six-time All-Star, as Clippard walked way having thrown 26 pitches. Williams explained the reasoning afterwards:

“Just, that’s a lot of pitches. Holliday’s numbers are not as good against Drew. It was just a lot. If we want him available tomorrow, he’s going to run into 30-plus. It’s just not a favorable matchup.”

Holliday entered the day 1-for-7 (.143) off Storen with two RBI and three strikeouts. He was 1-for-3 with two walks off Clippard.

Williams’ decision quickly paid off. Holliday swung at the very first pitch – a 95 mile per hour two-seam fastball – and popped it up to Adam LaRoche in foul territory.

“I went two-seamer in there, so that way, if you miss over the plate, you get a little bit of movement to hopefully help you out,” Storen said. “He’s a good hitter and he’s gonna attack you early, so especially guys in that position, it’s about trying to miss that barrel.”

Storen would need only four pitches to retire the next batter, Allen Craig, on a groundout to Ian Desmond. Five pitches for Storen, and two outs.

Storen was there the last time the Nationals beat the Cardinals, and earned the win. That was Oct. 11, 2012 in Game 4 of the National League Division Series.

The problems that have since haunted the Nationals – and Storen – in matchups with the Cardinals are well-documented. Though it was Game 17 of the regular season, Friday night represented somewhat of a minor breakthrough for the Nats.

“Anytime you can beat a team like that, you’re going to be excited about it,” Storen said. “It’s never easy to beat those guys and late in the game, they’re grinding it out. They’re a tough team all around, so like I said, anytime you can get one from those guys, it’s a good night.”

Williams praised Storen’s effort after the game, as the five-year pro continued what has been a nice beginning to his 2014 season. Storen now holds a 1.29 ERA and 0.290 WHIP through eight appearances. He had the velocity and movement on Friday night that made him a reliable late innings reliever just two years ago.

“Drew has closed before so he understands those types of situations,” Williams said. “He’s been the guy in the ninth inning and he’s comfortable in the seventh, eighth or ninth. I would imagine there will be a time this year where [Rafael Soriano] has thrown three in a row and not available where Drew will have to close it out, too. He’s ready for the ball at anytime.”

  1. wearenationals - Apr 19, 2014 at 9:55 AM

    Drew is looking Luke his ol’ self.

    • wearenationals - Apr 19, 2014 at 9:55 AM

      *like.

    • Steady Eddie - Apr 19, 2014 at 10:19 AM

      Actually, he’s looking better than his old self. Better command and movement on the slider especially.

      Like I wrote last night, Drew exorcised some pretty fierce demons with that performance. Hopefully should enable him to clear his mind and go forward with stronger confidence.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 19, 2014 at 10:29 AM

        I used those same exact words. Probably the 2nd best clutch fireman moment for a middle inning if relief only behind the Houdini act of Ryan Mattheus in Game #1

  2. Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 19, 2014 at 10:45 AM

    “@Ken_Rosenthal: From last night: Baseball plans to adjust interpretation of transfer rule and catchers’ positioning for collisions. http://t.co/knP11iMqKd
     “

    • Eric - Apr 19, 2014 at 10:59 AM

      Muy interesante!

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 19, 2014 at 11:21 AM

        Thought you’d like that. Cost the Mets last night.

    • Section 222 - Apr 19, 2014 at 11:03 AM

      Well, that didn’t take long. The transfer rule, supposedly always in existence, was leading to some absurd calls.

  3. Eric - Apr 19, 2014 at 10:58 AM

    #Nats lineup vs. #STLCards: Span CF, Harper LF, Werth RF, LaRoche 1B, Rendon 3B, Desmond SS, Espinosa 2B, Leon C, Zimmermann P

    Psyched! I have a gig tonight…feeling strong about both that and the game. Go music…Go Nats!!!

    • wearenationals - Apr 19, 2014 at 11:11 AM

      Good to see Span back in the line up again. Have fun tonight at your gig and GYFNG!

      • Eric - Apr 19, 2014 at 11:16 AM

        Thanks, and agreed re: Span!

  4. Section 222 - Apr 19, 2014 at 11:06 AM

    Quick Pitch had a segment touting the first matchup of Sonny Gray and George Springer, both drafted in 2011. They introduced it by mentioning other big names from that draft — Gerrit Cole, Jose Fernandez, and …. Anthony Rendon!

    • waddueyeno - Apr 19, 2014 at 11:18 AM

      YEP.
      just after their recap from last nite. couldn’t watch gameday on my phone in the choir loft, so it was nice to see that last double play. smooth as silk.

      gyfng

  5. Section 222 - Apr 19, 2014 at 11:28 AM

    It was great to see that kind of outing by Drew. Very impressive work. When I see him handle a pressure situation where he also has to hold a runner at first and does so successfully, I’ll be able to fully relax.

    As for Clip, he didn’t give up a run last night, thanks to Drew, but he sure looked shaky. That’s 5 out of 10 outings where he has not been effective. I wonder if DP still isn’t worried about him.

  6. natsfan1a - Apr 19, 2014 at 11:45 AM

    Missed much of the game but did tune in during the late innings – just in time for Clip, Storen, and the “offensive outburst” by the Nats. Atta way, Drew! Given Drew’s demeanor and that of Desi after scoring his run, it appeared to be as much a tonic for them as it was for this fan to beat the redbirds.

    • letswin3 - Apr 19, 2014 at 12:39 PM

      I was thinking the same thing. Not to be overly dramatic, but this game could turn out to be pivotal for this club. Maybe they learned that the better teams aren’t going to lie down for you, but if you give it everything you have, the outcome will be favorable more often.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 54 43 --
ATLANTA 54 45 1.0
MIAMI 46 52 8.5
NEW YORK 46 53 9.0
PHILADELPHIA 43 56 12.0
Through Monday's games

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TUE: Nats at Rockies, 8:40 p.m.
WED: Nats at Rockies, 3:10 p.m.
THU: OFF
FRI: Nats at Reds, 7:10 p.m.
SAT: Nats at Reds, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Reds, 1:10 p.m.
MON: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
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