I have not talked to a single Nats fan who is mad at Drew Storen. I believe most of us saw the picture of him slumped over, dejected, staring into darkness at his locker after blowing the save and the game in the final game of the Nats NLDS series against the Cardinals. Interesting fact about Drew Storen that was the first time since September 19, 2010 that Storen entered the ninth inning with the Nats having the lead and the inning ended with them down.
That game on September 19 is the one in which Storen’s now teammate Jayson Werth hit a walk-off homer off of Storen. Storen responded in Spring Training by throwing at Werth during live BP. Drew Storen is hard on himself, but he isn’t one to let a situation consume him. There were 118 games Storen appeared in between the Werth walk-off and the Game 5 disaster. Drew Storen didn’t enter the ninth inning ahead in all those games, but that is still a lot of appearances for a closer to make without blowing a game.
Storen had blown saves after the one against Werth, but all six of those ended with the score being tied and the Nationals came back and won every single one of them. Even in Storen’s blown saves he still was able to get all three outs. It was rare to see him so completely implode that he needed to be removed from the game. It is rare to see Storen not have it, and even in Game 5 he had it. He was one strike away from sending the Nationals to the NLCS. He needs to remember that and not a ground ball that careened off of Ian Desmond’s glove or the one pitch he did leave too far over the plate to Pete Kozma.
The pitches Storen was making to Molina and Freese were the pitches he wanted to make to them. They had the patience to not swing and may have benifeted from a home plate ump that wanted the game to end on a swing. Storen didn’t take the Werth walk-off hard. He came back the very next season and earned 43 saves. Storen has the ability to take this loss and use it as motivation. The Werth walk-off became motivation for him and he let it bother him enough to where he threw at Werth in Spring Training, but not enough that he let it happen again.
Good closers have wound up on the wrong side of history more than once. It was Dennis Eckersley on the mound when Kirk Gibson hit his homerun, and it was Mariano Rivera on the mound when Dave Roberts stole second. This won’t be the last blown save of Drew Storen’s career and if the 2013 Nationals end up in the deciding game of a playoff series once again Drew Storen is the pitcher I would want being handed the ball, and I know there are a lot of Nats fans out there that share this sentiment.
Drew Storen has suffered before and he responded that time. The character of the 2012 Nationals was to respond. It was to rise up whenever people thought they were down. After the 7/20/12 nine-run blown lead, the Nationals finished the season 45-26. So after what was a loss that was thought to be the mark of the end of the season the Nationals played .634 baseball. The Nationals are a resilient bunch and Drew Storen is no different.
Looking at the images of him after the game you can tell he put it all on himself. He wanted that win as much as any of his teammates, and he feels he let them down. Like the Werth homer before Storen will not forget that pain, that memory, but as time passes it will become motivation. At some point this winter Storen will be ready for 2013’s arrival. The entire Nationals team will. 2012 ended before they were ready for it to, and 2013 is their opportunity for revenge.