After two tough outings, Storen bounces back

By Tom Schad | Associate Reporter

After a pair of disappointing performances, the cheers for Nationals reliever Drew Storen started sounding less like “Drewwwwww” and more like “Boooooo.”

Storen gave up four runs in one inning on Tuesday against the Brewers and three runs — including two homers — on the Fourth of July. He looked like a shell of his former self, hanging breaking balls over the middle of the plate and ignoring pitching coach Steve McCatty on visits to the mound. His ERA increased to 5.40 from 3.82.

Then, with a one run lead against the Padres on Saturday, Storen retired the side with five pitches.

“That’s what I was talking about,” manager Davey Johnson said. “His stuff is too good. He doesn’t need to try to trick ’em. He said, ‘Here’ and that was the highlight film of my day.”

Storen threw one pitch each to Carlos Quentin and Chase Headley, both of whom lined out to third baseman Ryan Zimmerman. Then Storen struck out Jesus Guzman with three pitches: two sinking fastballs and a slider.

“Anytime you can get it right to contact and get them to hit it right to guys, especially on a hot day, you can’t complain about that,” Storen said. “You knew you just had to attack guys in the zone. You sink it down in the zone. Hopefully those guys hit it on the ground and let our defense take care of it.”

Johnson and McCatty have noticed a change in Storen’s approach the season. The Nationals’ skipper has told his former close to stop throwing and start pitching, trust his fastball and attack hitters. After Saturday’s outing, Storen said that he got the message loud and clear.

“I thought he had a good point,” Storen said. “I’m trying to pitch around guys. I have good enough stuff. I just need to attack hitters and we have a great defense behind you. There’s no reason to be pitching around anybody.”

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