Two outs with a one-run lead in the top of the ninth inning of the NLDS against the St. Louis Cardinals, Drew Storen needed just one more to secure the Washington Nationals' first postseason series win in franchise history.
Then he walked Yadier Molina.
David Freese followed Molina with a walk of his own.
Then, Daniel Descalso ripped a single off of Ian Desmond's glove and into center field to score Molina from second.
Following Descalso, rookie shortstop Pete Kozma singled to right field to bring home the go-ahead run.
After leading the game 6-0, the Nationals lost the contest 9-7 and were eliminated from World Series contention.
It was Storen's third game in as many days, only the second time he had done so since being activated off the disabled list on July 19. Many just blamed fatigue for his poor performance. Others blamed inexperience.
For months now, fans and analysts alike have been satisfied with either of the two aforementioned theories. Now, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com has given us the truth.
It turns out that Storen experienced "terrible" back pain for the final three days of the NLDS, even receiving treatment for back spasms in the trainer's room each of those days.
Heyman reports that others familiar with the situation described Storen's pain as "unbearable."
Whether or not it actually had an effect on his pitching remains unknown, as Storen really doesn't like to open up about the issue.
It does speak to his go-get-it attitude, however, and teammate Jayson Werth had nothing but nice things to say about the closer-turned-setup-man (via Heyman).
He was having real bad back spasms. That was the third day (pitching) in a row. He was banged up, man. No one knew. For him to just have the balls to go out there, that says a lot about him.
Storen enters the 2013 season no longer secured with the ninth inning job. The Rafael Soriano signing, one that many opined to be because of Storen's meltdown, gives the Nationals a veteran presence at closer.
We may not be able to attribute that acquisition to Storen's blown save anymore, especially with this new information out there.
So, make of it what you will. The Nationals were eliminated regardless, but I find it interesting that manager Davey Johnson would go to a guy experiencing that much pain in the biggest situation of his young career.
Hopefully there are bigger things ahead for the Nationals, and all signs point to that being just the case.
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