|Photo by USA Today|
After making his return to Nationals Park on Friday night, John Lannan didn’t have much to say about the experience, he wasn’t nostalgic about returning to the mound in D.C. or being in the opposing locker room for the first time in his career.
But if Lannan wasn’t in the mood to talk about those things after his team’s 9-2 loss to the Nationals, that can be understood. The 28-year-old, in fact, put out one of the worst starts of his entire career, allowing a career-high eight earned runs including two homers in the second inning alone. That’s the first time he’s allowed multiple home runs since Aug. 31, 2011 when he was in a Nats’ uniform.
“It just wasn’t a great day,” he said afterwards.
Lannan lasted five innings, surrendering nine hits and five walks. Usually a groundball pitcher who keeps the ball down, Lannan’s fastball kept soaring up in the zone and the Nats took advantage.
Even Adam LaRoche, who entered Friday 0 for 15 against Lannan, got in on the fun. The Nats’ first baseman extended the streak to 16 in the first inning, striking out with the bases loaded and two outs. But he later notched two hits against the deceptive lefty, including an RBI double in the third.
LaRoche’s second hit was just a two-out single in the fifth, but Lannan saw it as the biggest mistake of the night. LaRoche extended the inning and Lannan promptly unraveled, allowing a total of four runs in the frame, including one on a bases loaded walk to pitcher Dan Haren.
“The biggest out was LaRoche, that changeup,” Lannan said. “I had him there. Two strikes, two outs.”
Lannan continued his inconsistent season that has seen him spend time on the disabled list for the first time in his career, a two month hiatus. While on the field he has seen his ERA jump to 4.81 just two years after posting a 3.70 mark through 184 2/3 innings with the Nats.
The former Nats’ Opening Day starter is now focusing on salvaging his season as his team, the Phillies, is playing for pride.
“You got to finish strong,” he said. “That’s just as a player you really can’t concentrate on what’s going on, but you know you have to finish strong. I think that’s a big part, teams look at that. And just as a personal note, you can go into the offseason with a good mindset knowing that you finished the year strong. And some day, September will mean something.”
Lannan has now faced the Nationals three times this season, but at this juncture they are a different club than many predicted they would be this year. The hopes of World Series contention are dwindling and, as a guy who knows them well, Lannan can provide a unique perspective on their struggles.
The lefty, however, didn’t have much to say on the matter.
“They’re a great team, great players,” he said. “Last year was a special year for them.”
Perhaps an indication of how much Lannan has detached himself from his Nationals years, he referred to the 2012 team, a club he made six starts for, as ‘them.’