A good start and early end for Craig Stammen
There was a lot Craig Stammen liked about his start Thursday in the Nationals' 5-4 loss to the Giants. He allowed two earned runs in 6 1/3 innings, by far his best start on the road. He recorded 15 of his 19 outs with groundballs, not including an error on a grounder by Adam Dunn. As he exited the game, the Nationals were winning and he had a shot at his second win this year, his first since April 19.
What Stammen didn't like about his start is when he left. With one out in the seventh, the Nats up by 4-2 and a runner on third, Manager Jim Riggleman pulled Stammen after 85 pitches in favor of Sean Burnett. Riggleman wanted Burnett to face Nate Schierholtz, a left-handed pinch-hitter. Burnett allowed a pair of hits on tough breaks, and the game unraveled while Stammen watched.
Afterward, Stammen didn't fume or throw a tantrum or even blame Riggleman. But he was honest - he didn't want to, or think he should, leave the game.
"Yes, I would have liked to be left in," Stammen said. "But if you polled every single pitcher in here, I'm sure they would say the same thing. Jim knows what he's doing. He takes pitchers out every single game. He makes that decision. He gets paid to make that decision. There's no second-guessing. Who's to say I would have got the next guy out? I think in my head I would have gotten him out. But that's the way it is."
Stammen had to find solace that he had pitched well. He entered the game with a 5.96 ERA, third-highest in the National League. Stephen Strasburg is going to replace someone when he arrives, and Stammen had verged on making himself a candidate.
"He probably hasn't pitched like he can," Riggleman said of Stammen before the game. "He's thrown the ball well. The ball is coming off his hand good. He's just not pitching the way he can pitch. We've got a lot of confidence in him. As much as anybody we send out there, when we put him out there we think he's got a chance to shut hitters down. We're still waiting for it to all come together."
Mostly, it came together Thursday. He allowed five hits and walked three and surrendered a home run to Aubrey Huff on the first pitch of the fourth inning. Stammen figured Huff would be taking, so he threw a fastball down the middle.
Stammen's start encouraged him, too, because it was first quality start away from Nationals Park. He entered with a staggering 9.92 ERA in road starts. "It's good to finally pitch well on the road," Stammen said. He would have preferred a win.
May 27, 2010; 8:38 PM ET
Categories: Craig Stammen , Pitching rotation , Stephen Strasburg
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