June 18, 2018

Strasburg, Harper struggle a bit in 6-5 loss to Braves

Nats v. Braves – Champion Stadium at Disney (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

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.

Stephen Strasburg delivers in 6-5 loss to Braves (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

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.

Bryce Harper was back in the lineup to face Braves (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

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.

About Dave Nichols

Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Washington Nationals, Capitals, Wizards and Mystics. Dave also covers national college football and basketball and Major League Soccer for Associated Press and is a copy editor for the Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane, WA. He spent four years in radio covering the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Redskins and the University of Maryland football and basketball teams. Dave is a life-long D.C. sports fan and attended his first pro game in 1974 — the Caps’ second game in existence. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveNicholsDSP

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