|USA Today Sports Images|
Positive attention, because Storen pitched quite well in his first appearance since his high-profile demotion to Class AAA Syracuse three weeks ago.
Given the ball for the bottom of the ninth inning of a tie game, the right-hander retired three of the four Atlanta batters he faced, striking out two, throwing 13 of his 17 pitches for strikes and admitting afterward he didn't have to overcome any nerves.
"Surprisingly not," he said. "I love pitching here. If anything, the [Tomahawk] Chop locks me in. Probably wouldn't want it any other way, to be honest with you."
Storen displayed impressive command both of his fastball and his slider. He threw the latter eight times, six of them coming against Evan Gattis during a compelling at-bat with the game on the line.
Gattis, who had been an astounding 6-for-8 with four homers as a pinch-hitter, stepped to the plate with one out and a man on first. Storen quickly got ahead with two called strikes on sliders, then watched as Gattis fouled off three more.
With the count still 1-2, Storen decided to stick with the gameplan and feed Gattis yet another slider.
"It's just kind of reading his swings and seeing what I saw," he said. "I'm trying to miss his barrel, because his barrel is gonna go a long way. Just making a good pitch to him. If you get a strikeout, that's great. But get soft contact, that's also good."
Gattis did technically make contact on Storen's seventh pitch of the at-bat, but only enough to foul-tip the ball back into catcher Wilson Ramos' glove for a huge strikeout.
Storen then got Gerald Laird to fly out to right, ending the inning and completing an impressive return to the Nationals bullpen.
"It's just kind of getting back on the horse," he said. "I didn't look at it as a big test, or anything that monumental. Just trying to put up a zero, give us a chance to win. It was fun, more than anything, I would say."