Minutes after Drew Storen realized he wasn't traded at the Major League non-waiver deadline, he entered a 2-1 game in the top of the ninth, entrusted to close it like he has 26 times before this season. Unfortunately for him and the rest of the Washington Nationals, Scott Hairston had other ideas. He deposited a 2-2 pitch just barely over the wall in front of the visiting bullpen for his second solo home run of the day, drawing his New York Mets even with the home team.
But in an appropriate capper to a strange weekend, Ian Desmond got a ball to bounce over Mets reliever Bobby Parnell's head, high enough for Rick Ankiel to carry home the winning run in the bottom of the frame, giving the Nats a game and series win over their N.L. East rival.
This was a tight, tense affair, mimicking the mood in the park surrounding the trade deadline. It was plain for anyone that was interested to hear that Storen, among others, was being rumored to be involved in a deal with the Minnesota Twins in exchange for center fielder Denard Span and others. But when Nats GM Mike Rizzo did not get an offer he felt was enticing enough to give up his 23-year old, cost-controlled closer, the deadline passed with the Nats not making a move.
As for the game, it was a scoreless affair through the fifth inning. The Nats' Jordan Zimmerman and the Mets' Jon Niese were trading zeroes, not particularly challenged by their rival's offenses. The Nats struck first, in the bottom of the sixth, with three consecutive doubles by Desmond, Ryan Zimmerman and Michael Morse, which netted two runs.
The Nats runs came in the bottom of the frame where Zimmermann struck out his final two batters after putting men on second and third following two singles and a balk. For the day, Zimmermann was again superb. He went six shutout innings, allowing seven hits and one walk, striking out six. He used 107 pitches, 64 for strikes, on a sunny, 96 degree day.
So the trade deadline comes and goes without GM Mike Rizzo landing the leadoff hitter and center fielder he covets. The Nationals aren't contending for anything this year so he wasn't forced to do a deal he didn't like. There's plenty of time for him to find the appropriate players at the appropriate price. Maybe he'll fill both spots with the same player, maybe not. But regardless of what the pundits and cynics say, we'll never know what deals Rizzo was offered today, and it obviously wasn't enough for him to part with Storen.
Maybe the next offer will be.
THE GOOD: Jordan Zimmerman. He's up to 132 2/3 innings, so he's got about four starts left in him before he'll be shut down at his limit of 160 innings pitched. Today's game was a beaut.
THE BAD: Sean Burnett. One inning. One home run.
THE UGLY: Brian Bixler. He lead off and went 0-for-5 with a K and four LOB. Hitting .176 this season. No wonder Rizzo is looking so hard for a legitimate leadoff hitter.
THE STATS: 11 hits, one walk, 10 strikeouts. 4-for-13 with RISP, 10 LOB, zero GIDP. E: Zimmerman (8)
NEXT GAME: Monday at 7:05 pm against the Atlanta Braves. Livan Hernandez (5-10, 4.19) faces Jair Jurrjens (12-3, 2.38).
NATS NOTES: LHP Atahualpa Severino was activated for the game and Yunesky Maya returned to AAA-Syracuse before the game. Severino was to be used in case of an emergency but that did not come to pass. He'll most likely be returned to the minors, maybe as soon as Monday.