With two runners on base and only one out in the eighth inning of a 3-1 game, Manager Matt Williams called on Drew Storen.
Storen, who came in after the struggling Tyler Clippard worked himself into a jam, has enjoyed a strong start to the season, allowing just one run thus far. Clippard used 26 pitches to record one out, and Williams wanted him to be available for Saturday’s game. In addition, Storen has had success in his career against Matt Holliday, who stepped in against Storen with just one hit in seven at-bats lifetime vs. the right-hander.
Storen needed just five pitches to extricate the Nationals from the jam. The fiery reliever smacked his glove as he walked toward the dugout.
“Nothing goes as planned down there” in the bullpen, Storen said. “That’s kind of the fun part about it. You’re always on your toes no matter what. You get the adrenaline going a little bit, change it up. Anytime you can go out there and save another guy’s run, that’s pretty fun.”
Storen fired a 95-mph sinker to start the at-bat against Holliday. The pitch started over the middle of the plate but broke in toward Holliday’s hands. As a result, Holliday popped the ball up to first baseman Adam LaRoche.
“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.”
Against the next batter, Allen Craig, Storen fired two sliders and two sinkers. The last sinker was a 96 mph pitch that Craig hit to shortstop Ian Desmond for an inning-ending groundout.
“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.”
Through eight appearances this season, Storen has allowed only one run, struck out nine and, perhaps most impressive, walked none. He has inherited four runners, stranding them all. He has allowed only two hits through seven innings. His fastballs have been his deadliest weapons.
“He was good, aggressive,” Williams said. “He threw his fastball where he wanted to and that’s important for him. He was good.”