It's obviously a concern that the Nationals lost their fourth consecutive game last night, but the far bigger news today was the performance of Drew Storen. In his major league debut, Soren didn't disappoint, surrendering no runs in two thirds of an inning, including a strikeout of Cardinals slugger Matt Holiday.
SB Nation's Nats blog Federal Baseball described the scene as follows:
In his MLB debut. Nats' skipper Jim Riggleman claps his hands on the way to the mound, happy to get the K on the Cards' pitcher without the runner advancing, Storen heads the mound from the bullpen. Front foot turned in as he settles on the mound before starting his delivery, Storen straightens his front (left) leg and whips it around as he pushes off his right leg, and Drew Storen's major league career starts with a 94mph fastball outside for ball one to former Nats' SS Felipe Lopez, who flies out to Josh Willingham in left for the first out on Storen's second pitch. Ryan Ludwick takes an 84mph curve for a called strike inside, takes a fastball outside and then takes one on the hand. HBP. (A 93mph one, ouch!)...
And then, after Storen recovered to strike out Holiday:
...Drew Storen walks off the mound. Calmly, head down. Just before he reaches the visiting team's dugout, Pudge Rodriguez greets him and Storen's gotta react quickly to meet Pudge's enthusiastic high-five and it looks like he starts to breathe again.
Storen's solid performance is all the more impressive considering he was pretty nervous, as the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore notes. Luckily for Storen, his father made the five-hour drive to St. Louis to watch him pitch, and that probably calmed him down a bit.
There was also a lot of symbolism in Storen's debut, as Nats blog Nats320 wrote. The first batter Storen faced in his major league career was none other than Felipe Lopez. Yes, the underachieving Felipe Lopez.
If there was one player that hit the nerve of fans for Our Washington Nationals from 2007 through 2008 and symbolized all that was wrong with D.C. Baseball--it was Felipe Lopez. A talented underachiever that lost focus and eventually quit of his Washington teammates. Few players since The Nation's Capital returned to Major League Baseball were run out of town--and released--with such acclaim and cheers.
Felipe Lopez was the scapegoat then.
Now, two years later, wearing Cardinals white, red & gold, FLop stood with his bat in the lefthanded batters box facing all that is good about Our Washington Nationals in one--Drew Storen. Talent, hope, THE WANTING TO BE HERE. The excitement which arises knowing good times for D.C. Baseball are on the horizon. That contrast could not have been more stark. Lopez representing what was. Storen personifying what is today.
A New Look, Forward Thinking, Washington Nationals Franchise.
One can only hope Storen's career mirrors his debut. At the very least, last night was one more sign of hope that this franchise is moving in the right direction.