The Washington Nationals sent a busload of players over to Disney to take on the Atlanta Braves Wednesday. Normally, each team is supposed to bring a handful of starters with them for road games. For this one, the biggest names were the youngest on the team.
Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper led the Washington contingent to Orlando with decidedly mixed results.
Strasburg pitched four innings, allowing three earned runs on five hits and two walks, striking out just two. His normal pin-point control was not evident, and on several occasions he looked visibly frustrated. He gave up two home runs, one each to Dan Uggla and Jason Heyward. Uggla’s was an opposite field shot that just seemed to carry — Heyward’s was a no-doubt-about-it blast.
Heyward hit a 97-MPH fastball up in the zone on a 2-0 count. Strasburg made comments after the game about trying to blow the batter away instead of pitching to him, and that type of analysis will serve him well as he continues to mature as a pitcher. But what was evident was that along with perhaps questionable pitch selection, he just didn’t have his precision control in this effort.
Harper, playing in his first game in a week after straining a calf muscle, went 0-for-2 with a walk. His first at bat was a three-pitch strikeout against Braves top prospect Julio Teheran. Harper fouled off the first two pitches before swinging through a fastball for strike three. The only time he put a ball in play was a routine ground ball to the right side.
The Nats did get some offense in this one, with Chad Tracy (2-for-4) and Jesus Flores (3-for-3) both homering in the 6-5 loss.
Tom Gorzelanny took over for Strasburg after four innings and went three innings himself, allowing four hits and a walk, striking out five.
The Nationals host the New York Yankees Thursday at 1:05 pm. Chien-Ming Wang takes the hill for the Nats.