Storen impresses, fans Holliday in debut
Nats righty up less than one year after being drafted
ST. LOUIS -- Nationals rookie relief pitcher Drew Storen said he didn't know what to expect when he made his Major League debut on Monday night against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium.
He entered the game with one out and a man on first in the seventh inning. He retired the first batter he faced, Felipe Lopez, on a foul ball down the left-field line, thanks to a fine play by left fielder Josh Willingham. After hitting Ryan Ludwick with a fastball inside, Storen struck out Matt Holliday to end the inning.
"I felt good," he said. I did what I wanted to do with the ball. I felt like I was under control, and that was kind of the main thing I was shooting for. I wasn't overwhelmed. So now I can make adjustments the next time I go out there."
The 22-year-old right-hander, the 10th overall pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, impressed his teammates and his manager.
"He did well," third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. "I think he threw a lot of strikes. Obviously that one got away from him. But he came right in and faced some tough batters. He did a good job, and hopefully he can build on that."
The man with the best view of the rookie's stuff concurred with the overall assessment.
"He closed the inning. He did good. He threw strikes," said Nats catcher Ivan Rodriguez. "He threw the three pitches out of four that he has. He threw the sinker, the breaking ball and the slider, and he did great. He did a great job."
Storen's eight-pitch battle against Holliday showed the rookie's toughness and the quality of his stuff. With a full count, the right-hander threw a 94-mph fastball on the inside corner that Holliday swung through.
"I was happy," Storen said. "I was excited for the opportunity. I was ready to attack some guys. That was a big thing for me. I didn't want to walk anybody. I didn't want any free baserunners. I wanted to challenge guys and get my feet wet."
Manager Jim Riggleman wanted to find the right situation for Storen to make his debut.
"He was good," Riggleman said. "I'm sure he was very nervous. I liked the way he attacked the situation. We were losing. I wanted it to be a game where we were either winning by a lot or losing by a little. I didn't want him in a game where we were losing by a lot. I wanted it to be a meaningful situation but not life or death. Not a save situation for him or a tie ballgame. In that respect it worked out OK. I'm glad we kept it close so he could get in there and get that first one out of the way. I thought he pitched good."
Nate Latsch is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.