Results tagged ‘ Craig Stammen ’
“I feel like we were just destined to win that game, some way, somehow.”
Those words came from Dan Haren, maybe the most unlikely of heroes from a game full of them, saturated with storylines from both dugouts.
Saturday night was supposed to be about Bryce Harper, about unwritten baseball rules, about the rising tension between the Nationals and the Braves as they battled through the dog days of summer. But amidst a bizarre game in which two of the best young pitchers in baseball each failed to escape the second inning, it became a story of a true team effort in which 21 of the 25 men on the Washington roster played a role. In the end, the Nationals prevailed after 15 innings and nearly five-and-a-half hours, by a final of 8-7.
While any 15-inning affair will naturally be referred to most commonly as a marathon, this division rivalry felt more like a long distance relay race, with one reliever handing the baton to the next, over and over again. In all, 18 different pitchers were used by the two clubs – nine each – including the starters, each club’s entire seven-man bullpen, and two more starters to close it out.
Along the way, Washington set a number of records. The 15 innings matched the longest game in Nationals history, equaling the 2009 season finale, a 2-1 win over none other than the Braves at Turner Field. The five-hour, 29-minute affair was the lengthiest in terms of time elapsed. Meanwhile, the 19 strikeouts compiled by the Washington bullpen shattered the all-time Major League mark, at least as far back as anyone can be sure. The records for such a stat only date back to 1971, to which point the highest total ever compiled by a relief staff in a single game was 16. But considering the way the sport had evolved, with increased strikeout rates and higher bullpen usage, it’s hard to imagine any club amassing a comparable total in any previous era.
Following Stephen Strasburg’s second-inning ejection, Tanner Roark was the first Nationals reliever to answer the call, entering a 4-2 game and providing four innings of one-hit, scoreless relief with six strikeouts. Drew Storen tossed a perfect seventh inning, striking out the side. Ian Krol rebounded from a tough Friday night outing to put up two more scoreless frames in extra innings, and Craig Stammen followed a two-inning stint Friday night with a 55-pitch, three-inning scoreless stretch to get the game to the 15th inning.
Of course, in the midst of the impressive relief outings, the Braves tied the game in the ninth, making all of the extra pomp and circumstance necessary in the first place. But neither team would score again until the 15th inning, when Adam LaRoche punished a hanging breaking ball from Kris Medlen for a moonshot to right field, the ball searing through the mist at Turner Field before coming to rest in the bleachers, a dozen rows deep, giving the Nationals the lead once more.
That left the game to Haren, summoned from the bullpen to make his first relief appearance since 2004. Haren had thrown his routine side work prior to the game, tossing 30-35 pitches, which he followed with an upper body workout. But when Strasburg’s evening was cut short, several hours earlier, he offered up his services, should they be needed. They were.
“I’m proud of him for even doing that,” said Randy Knorr, who took over as manager when Davey Johnson was ejected along with Strasburg. “A lot of guys wouldn’t even have gone down there after throwing a bullpen.”
Haren allowed a single, but that was all, striking out Jordan Schafer flailing at a splitter, his bat sent cartwheeling towards the Braves dugout to end the game. That netted Haren first Major League save, and only his second as a professional, the other coming more than 12 years prior as a member of the New Jersey Cardinals of the Short-season New York Penn League on July 15, 2001 against the Lowell Spinners.
“I’m only supposed to do media every five days,” Haren joked as the huddle approached his locker after 1 a.m. local time.
In the end, the Nationals went home with a big road victory in Atlanta. Their reward. Both clubs get a whopping 12 hours and 46 minutes between the final out and the first pitch on Sunday afternoon. Haren summed it up best when all was said and done.
“Five-hour games are fine when you win them. But when you lose them, they really stink.”
We are putting our own spin on the traditional “10 Questions” format this season. To mix it up a little, we are asking players, front office members, coaches, prospects and others nine questions we think you’d like to know the answer to, then bringing you their responses in written and video form. This Q&A originally appeared in Volume 6, Issue 6 of Inside Pitch.
1. How do you deal with pressure-packed situations coming out of the bullpen?
I know it’s a cliché, but every pitch matters and you’ve got to take it one pitch at a time. You’ve got to be able to shut your mind off and really focus on what the task is at hand.
2. How do you stay focused throughout the grind of the 162-game season?
It’s definitely tough to have that mindset the same every single day. That sense of urgency has to be built deep within, working every day and getting ready for whatever comes to you throughout the season. If you’re ready for it, it’s only going to help you along the way.
3. How do you define your role on the team?
My role is to do whatever I’m asked to do. I’m one of those guys who doesn’t complain about the role I’m going to be in. Every team needs those role players so the star players can do their thing and lead the team. I’m the blue collar, dirty work type of player on the team.
4. What is your specialty?
I’m a guy who can throw a lot of innings out of the bullpen. I can throw two, three (innings). In extra innings I’m a go-to guy that finishes off the game. If Davey needs a guy to eat up some innings and keep the game close, that’s who I am.
5. What’s the most underrated part of your game?
My hitting. Every pitcher will say that, but I used to do alright when I was starting.
6. Your sinking fastball has been excellent this season. How did that develop as a pitch?
Every year, I’ve always tried to get better in some form or fashion. I just throw my pitches every day and practice throwing them exactly where I want to throw them. I’ve just gotten better every year locating my sinker.
7. What’s it like being in the “zone” with your catcher?
I wish I knew how to get there every time – if I did, the game would be easy. When you’re on the same page and you’re thinking along the same lines, you definitely have more success. It takes being in sync with the scouting report, studying the hitters and the catcher knowing me and my strengths and what I’m doing well that certain day.
8. Describe the camaraderie of this Nationals bullpen.
It’s almost like we’re our own little team. We’re watching the game, talking about the game with each other and rooting for each other when we come into the game.
9. How do the guys in the bullpen feed off of each other’s successes?
You don’t want to be the guy who lets the team down. If everybody is doing their job, you’ve got to do yours and man up and protect the lead.
6.23.13 – Rockies 7, Nationals 6
Stat of the Game: The Nationals fell into an early 7-0 hole, but fought all the way back within a run before coming up just short.
Under-the-Radar Performance: Three relievers (Craig Stammen, Ian Krol and Fernando Abad) combined to throw 5.1 innings of scoreless, four-hit ball, striking out seven without a walk.
It Was Over When: Washington scored four times, but stranded the tying run at second in the eighth inning, marking the Nationals final baserunner of the night.
With Washington, D.C. as our home, the Nationals embrace the sacrifices made by those who bravely serve our country and we work year round to support military service members and their families. As an extension of our commitment to them, the club has teamed up with Major League Baseball and ‘PEOPLE’ magazine to highlight local veterans and military service members through the 2013 Tribute for Heroes campaign.
Nationals pitcher Craig Stammen – who joined Ross Detwiler on General Martin E. Dempsey’s USO Tour this offseason – played a particularly important role in this initiative, as he was a part of the panel that selected 90 heroes, three per MLB Club, for this special recognition. The finalists were announced Tuesday for this nationwide tribute and Nationals fans are encouraged to visit TributeForHeroes.com to vote for the local military service member they would like to see represent the Nationals at the All-Star Game. Voting runs through June 30.
Stammen, along with Major Leaguers Justin Verlander (Detroit Tigers), Nick Swisher (Cleveland Indians), Barry Zito (San Francisco Giants), Jonny Gomes (Boston Red Sox), Brad Ziegler (Arizona Diamondbacks) and Chase Headley (San Diego Padres), helped select the brave individuals to show his appreciation for our troops’ service both locally and overseas. General Peter W. Chiarelli (retired) and General John M. “Jack” Keane (retired) also served on the panel.
Learn more about the following three heroes, who are the finalists selected to represent the Washington Nationals:
John Belcher of Tunkhannock, Pa., served honorably for nearly 10 years as a Marine with tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, earning numerous citations and medals for his bravery in combat. After his discharge, John began his career helping veterans. He interned for a U.S. Congressman and after only a few months was promoted to serve as the office’s Veteran Affairs Representative. In this position, he helped more than 600 veterans work through issues with Veterans Affairs. After a year, John was again promoted, to his current position of District Director, where he continues to aid veterans. Additionally, John has served as the Veterans Service Officer with his local American Legion post.
“Service Before Self” is how Lori Kelly of Alexandria, Va., lives. Lori has served in the Air Force for 23 years and has earned many decorations throughout her career. She was recently named a Chief Master Sergeant select and handpicked to serve as the Senior Enlisted Aide to the Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force, General Larry Spencer. Lori works frequently with the Honor Flight program, recently escorting a group of 102 WWII veterans from Alabama to all of the memorials in Washington, D.C. The single mom also volunteers frequently at DC Central Kitchen, a food recycling and culinary training organization, and is an Assistant Scout Master and a Band Mom at her son’s school.
Julie Weckerlein of Centreville, Va., served 13-plus years in the Air Force with assignments in Germany, Italy, Ohio and at the Pentagon, as well as deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan as a combat correspondent. As a public affairs non-commissioned officer, she shared the Air Force story through print and photography. A proud wife, mother and long time blogger, Julie has been interviewed on military and veteran matters by news outlets including NBC and CNN. She now works in social media for the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, D.C., where part of her job involves raising awareness for veteran employment opportunities.
The chosen honoree will join 29 other representatives from across the League for All-Star Week festivities, including recognition during the pregame ceremony leading up to the 2013 All-Star Game at Citi Field on July 16 on FOX. One of the 30 honorees will also be featured in the July 22 issue of ‘PEOPLE,’ which hits newsstands Friday, July 12, the week of the MLB All-Star Game.
Tribute for Heroes supports Welcome Back Veterans and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, as well as “PEOPLE First: Help America’s Veterans,” the magazine’s 2013 charity initiative.
Honor our military heroes and the red, white and blue by voting today.
Washington Nationals (28-27) vs. Atlanta Braves (32-22)
LHP Gio Gonzalez (3-3, 3.90) vs. RHP Tim Hudson (4-4, 5.37)
The Nationals snagged the series opener for their third consecutive win over the Braves at Turner Field with a 3-2 victory Friday night. Tonight, they’ll send Gio Gonzalez to the mound, who notched a 2.48 ERA over his five May starts. The Braves will counter with Tim Hudson, who is 0-3 with an 8.69 ERA (19 ER/19.2 IP) over his last four outings.
1. Span CF
2. Lombardozzi LF
3. Zimmerman 3B
4. LaRoche 1B
5. Desmond SS
6. Bernadina RF
7. Espinosa 2B
8. Suzuki C
9. Gonzalez LHP
Craig Stammen picked up the win last night with a career-high 4.0 perfect relief innings, in which he fanned three and retired all 12 batters faced. No reliever in Nationals (‘05-present) history has ever faced as many batters in an appearance without allowing a baserunner. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last reliever in Nationals/Expos franchise history to pitch 4.0 or more innings without allowing a baserunner was Sun-Woo Kim (13 batters in 4.1 IP) on May 10, 2004 vs. Kansas City. The longest such relief appearance in franchise history was posted by Jackie Brown (18 batters in 6.0 IP) on May 21, 1977 vs. San Diego.
The Nationals went 15-13 in May, which was no small feat considering they played 18 of their 28 games on the road. Dating to September 2011, the Nationals have played winning baseball in eight of the last nine months. Adam LaRoche led the way for the Nationals in nearly every offensive category, including average (.330), on-base percentage (.416), slugging percentage (.608), walks (15), hits (32), home runs (seven) and RBI (19).
GETTING THE CALL
The Nationals recalled right-handed pitcher Erik Davis from Triple-A Syracuse, who has pitched in 167 games over six Minor League seasons, but is wearing a Major League uniform for the first time. After going 8-3 with a 2.71 ERA and 74 strikeouts against 20 walks in 73.0 innings between Double-A Harrisburg and Syracuse last season, Davis was added to the 40-man roster this offseason. He went 1-2 with a 3.00 ERA (8 ER/24.0 IP) and 27 strikeouts with the Chiefs prior to his call-up.
A couple weeks ago, when discussing the options for taking over the injured Ross Detwiler’s spot in the rotation, Davey Johnson opted not to go with Craig Stammen, despite the righty’s excellent numbers early in the season. In fact, it was precisely because of those numbers that Johnson felt he needed Stammen in case of emergency long relief, or if the team needed quality extra-inning work. And while one never wishes for such situations to arise, when one did Friday night in a crucial series opener in Atlanta, Stammen was there to answer the call.
Did he ever.
The right-hander came on with the Nationals ahead 2-1 in the bottom of the third and set down all 12 Braves batters he faced, three by strikeout, to bridge the gap to the back of the bullpen. Tyler Clippard, Drew Storen and Rafael Soriano tossed an inning each to finish out a 3-2 victory, one that seemed a stretch to believe after Stephen Strasburg departed with tightness in his back after just two frames.
“He was unbelievable, he did a great job,” said Johnson of Stammen’s clutch performance. “I thought he could go about 50 pitches, and he did. He probably could have gone further…It was a big win. We needed it bad.”
While it’s hard to call any single outcome in a 162-game season a must-win, Friday night may well have been the most significant single matchup on the schedule so far this season. Coming off a pair of disappointing setbacks in Baltimore, the Nationals sat with even .500 record, trailing the first-place Braves by 5.5 games in the division. With Strasburg on the mound against up-and-down rookie starter Julio Teheran, Washington appeared to have the advantage in the pitching matchup heading into the evening. When that assumed advantage was suddenly thrown out the window, it was Stammen who led the charge, as the team came together to gut out a huge win.
“I try to stick to my routine of taking it one pitch at a time,” explained Stammen, acknowledging the overused phrase, but emphasizing the importance of that mindset. “It may sound cliché, but that’s really the only way you can look at it. If you put your heart and soul into every pitch, every time, sooner or later you look up and you’re through three or four innings.”
Stammen’s four innings gave the offense enough time to piece together another run, just enough to squeak out a victory. All three runs came via productive outs, and all three were set up thanks to hustle plays. Leading off both the first and sixth innings, Denard Span stretched for an extra base after lacing a ball into the right-field corner, notching a pair of triples. In each case he went on to score easily on a deep sacrifice fly to right field by Steve Lombardozzi. The only other Washington tally came after Roger Bernadina and Danny Espinosa each singled with one out in the second, The Shark racing around to third base after Espinosa’s chopper bounced through the right side of the infield. Kurt Suzuki followed with a grounder to third, but busted hard out of the box, beating out the back end of a potential inning-ending, 5-4-3 double play, allowing Bernadina to score.
Together, the bullpen and lineup showed the kind of hustle and effort it will take to win games with Bryce Harper, Wilson Ramos and Jayson Werth still out of the lineup. Ultimately, Friday night’s game was one of sacrifice – Stammen’s well-earned tourniquet victory, Lombardozzi’s pair of run-scoring fly balls – of giving up whatever was needed to get the victory. It was epitomized by Stammen’s attitude afterward, one which the Nationals will need to embrace as they slowly get back to full strength.
“I’ll be here tomorrow with my cleats on,” he said, despite throwing 49 pitches over his four perfect frames. “If it goes 20 innings, I’m sure I can flip something up there.”
5.31.13 – Nationals 3, Braves 2
Stat of the Game: Craig Stammen retired all 12 batters he faced out of the bullpen to earn his third win of the season.
Under-the-Radar Performance: Denard Span tripled and scored twice to provide the bulk of the offense.
It Was Over When: Rafael Soriano closed the door with a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his 15th save in 18 chances this season.
5.15.13 – Dodgers 3, Nationals 1
Stat of the Game: Adam LaRoche homered for Washington’s lone run, extending his hitting streak to a career-high 12 games.
Under-the-Radar Performance: Craig Stammen allowed just two hits over 3.0 scoreless innings of relief, striking out three without a walk.
It Was Over When: The Dodgers added an insurance run in the eighth to provide the final margin of victory.
4.28.13 – Reds 5, Nationals 2
Stat of the Game: Ian Desmond collected two hits, including his National League-leading 10th double, plating Washington’s second and final run.
Under-the-Radar Performance: Craig Stammen had another big outing out of the Nationals bullpen, tossing two perfect innings of relief with two strikeouts.
It Was Over When: The Nationals got the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the seventh, but could get no closer.
4.20.13 – Mets 7, Nationals 1
Stat of the Game: Bryce Harper notched his second multi-homer game of the season and the fourth of his career, going 3-for-3 with the two dingers, a walk, a double, three runs scored and three RBI.
Under-the-Radar Performance: Craig Stammen did not earn a decision, but struck out five of the six batters he faced over two perfect innings of relief.
It Was Over When: Harper homered for the second time to break a 6-6 tie on the first pitch of the eighth inning, then Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano combined for the game’s final six outs.