Sunday, May 23, 2010

How Lannan Got His Groove Back

Today, John Lannan came back strong and looked healthy in a Washington Nationals 4-3 victory over the Baltimore Orioles 2 games 1, and the Nats are now 23-22 on the season. Lannan was in line to get the win until Matt Capps got his first blown save of the season in the bottom of the 9th inning with 2 outs when the O's tied the game.

Lannan came into the game laboring in his last 4 starts, giving up a total of 15 runs. The Nats only won 1 of those 4 games in a 14-6 trouncing of the Rockies back on May 13th. Today's John Lannan looked like a completely different pitcher. He had a rough top of the first, giving up 2 hits to start the game. He then settled in, only allowing one of those runs to score on a sacrifice grounder to Guzman. Those were the only 2 hits that Lannan gave up in his 5 1/3 innings of work.

A two hit appearance that gets you one out into the 6th inning is nothing to scoff at for a guy that was hurt only a few starts ago. Additionally, his ratios are getting better. He had almost twice as many ground ball outs (which is Lannan's bread and butter) as he did fly ball outs. It's good to see Lannan back in Lannan-esque form.

Drew Storen came on and pitched 1 2/3 innings in relief of Lannan, and got his first career professional hit in his first career at bat in the majors OR minors on a line drive laced into left center. It was amazing, and the crowd gave him a great ovation after the hit. I hope he got the ball. This kid is a stud worth watching. Also, did you know that Drew Storen is a switch hitter? Wow.

After a solid 8th by Burnett and Clippard, Capps came into the game in search of his 17th save on the year. Instead, he got his first blown save all season. As disappointed as I was to see Capps blow the save, it's remarkable that it took 17 save attempts and 45 games to get his first blown save. Now, the club will have to see if he can rebound from the disappointment.

One person will make that rebound much, much easier. Josh Willingham worked some extra inning magic in the bottom of the 10th inning with a walk off home run against the O's sidewinder Cla Meredith. The Nats got to this point because of a great top of the 10th by Doug Slaten.

This Nationals team, as bloggers and team reporters have said time and time again, continues to display remarkable confidence on the field that no matter what curveball is thrown at them (cliché intended), they can and will rebound. I don't think that more than 1/4 of the way through the season anyone can say that this is a fluke anymore. The Nats are excited to be contending, and the results show. From Lannan's great rebound after some bad starts and an injury, to Drew Storen meeting and exceeding his expectations (which were already lofty), to the offense's ability to get clutch hits. Most notably Josh Willingham. The Nats are here to stay as a team hovering around .500 this year. It's going to be fun to watch the remaining 3/4 of the season.

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