In the morning, Manager Davey Johnson said scuffling reliever Drew Storen would not pitch today “unless he has a dramatic recovery” from the flu. Storen ended up pitching in the Nationals’ 11-0 loss to the Mets in Game 1 of a doubleheader. The degree to which he recovered remains unclear.
Johnson sent Storen into the game to replace Ryan Mattheus with one out and two runners on base in the top of the ninth inning. Within a span of four pitches, Storen had allowed both inherited runners to score and yielded three earned runs of his own on three hits, including Ike Davis’s three-run homer.
For Storen, it may not have been a fair fight. After Storen walked off the field, his father, Indianapolis radio host Mark Patrick, revealed Storen’s condition and expressed his displeasure in a tweet: “102 degree temperature, sicker than a dog. … Let’s make him wear it!”
Johnson said Storen’s condition had improved between the morning and the ninth inning. He was also desperate to conserve his bullpen for Game 2 of the doubleheader, with Game 1 already out of their reach.
“Well, he got to feeling a little better,” Johnson said. “I had to use him. Tried to get by with Mattheus, but took him as many pitches as he could throw without taking a chance on hurting him.”
When asked if Storen had told him he felt okay to enter the game, Johnson said bullpen coach Jimmy Lett had asked him if he could pitch. Storen was not available for comment between games.
“I haven’t talked to him much today, but I know he’s not feeling very well,” Mattheus said. “That’s just tough. I bet you if you ask him, he’d take the ball again. He’s a tough kid. You got to commend him for going out there. … He’s a very professional individual. He would probably take the ball in this next game again.”
Storen has struggled this month, entering Friday with an 11.00 ERA in July. On Thursday, Johnson did not rule out optioning Storen to the minors after today’s doubleheader. Friday, certainly, Johnson did not place Storen in a situation to succeed – a blowout in progress, two runners already on base, saddled with an illness.
David Wright greeted Storen with a single to left. Marlon Byrd laced a double down the right field line. Davis lined the first pitch he saw into the home bullpen.
“Just left the ball up,” Johnson said. “That’s all.”
Johnson had tried to make it through the end of the game with Mattheus, who pitched for the first time since May 19, the day he broke his right hand punching a locker. Mattheus felt his command was off as he allowed three earned runs, allowing two hits and two walks as he threw a whopping 43 pitches.
“I just don’t know what it was,” Mattheus said. “I didn’t feel too pumped up. I did a pretty good job of settling myself down. It could be mechanical. I got a little short on a couple sinkers, bounced them in the dirt. I just started feeling for stuff. I made some good pitches, and I made some not-so-good pitches. We’ll move forward from there.”