As is usually the case when he pitches, the story of this game was Stephen Strasburg. The Washington Nationals ace, with his team-imposed shutdown looming, went about his business in a now-expected fashion. The 24-year old righty limited the Arizona Diamondbacks to one run and one hit over six innings, pacing the Nats to a 9-1 win, their league-best 70th of the season, before 29,362 at Chase Field.
Strasburg (W, 13-5, 2.90) wasn’t without his struggles. He did walk four — against six strikeouts — and gave up a run when the outcome was still very much in doubt on back-to-back walks and a ground ball single. But that’s all the D-backs would get against him. Strasburg, running several counts to three balls, needed 104 pitches to get through six innings, throwing just 58 of those pitches for strikes.
What he lacked in pinpoint command he more than made up for in stuff. The Arizona hitters just couldn’t do anything off him. 13 of the 18 outs he recorded were either strikeouts or groundouts.
Strasburg exited the game with the Nats leading 4-1, and Sean Burnett, Ryan Mattheus and Craig Stammen all provided a scoreless inning of relief.
On the other side of the ball, the Nats tacked on five more runs after Strasburg’s departure, never letting the outcome be called into question.
Steve Lombardozzi paced the attack with four hits, scoring four runs. Ryan Zimmerman (16) and Michael Morse (11) both homered of D-backs starter Trevor Cahill (L, 9-10, 3.85). And Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth both chipped in two RBIs to supplement the barrage.
THE TAKEAWAY: The Nats have won seven straight — their longest such streak of the season — and 17 of their last 22 since the game they blew a nine-run lead against the Atlanta Braves. They are the first team to reach 70 wins this season, and their playoff chances go up every day.
If the Nats merely play their remaining 49 games at 24-25, they’d end up with 94 wins, surely enough to qualify for one of the five playoff spots in the National League. They only need to go 12-37 to end up with the best record the franchise has seen since the relocation in 2005.
If they maintain their current .619 winning percentage, they’ll finish with 100 wins. That’s fun math.
THE GOOD: Steve Lombardozzi. He’s been scuffling a bit lately, but a four-hit night is impressive any way you slice it.
THE BAD: Danny Espinosa went 0-for-4.
THE UGLY: Kurt Suzuki went 0-for-4 and is 3-for-14 since joining the Nats.
THE STATS: 11 hits, 5 BBs, 6 Ks. 4-for-11 with RISP, 7 LOB, 0 GIDP. No errors, no DPs.
NEXT GAME: Saturday at 8:10 pm ET against the D-backs. Edwin Jackson (6-7, 3.56) faces lefty All-Star Wade Miley (12-7, 2.85).