July 18, 2018

Washington Nationals Game 41 Review: Strasburg’s arm, bat lead Nats over O’s 9-3.

It was a heck of a day all around for Stephen Strasburg.

The ace of the Washington Nationals pitching staff was tasked with ending a three-game losing skid. After a shaky two innings — and being let down by his defense early — Strasburg recovered to retire the final 10 batters he faced (seven via strikeout) and hit his first Major League home run as the Nats salvaged the finale of the three-game series with the Baltimore Orioles, 9-3, before 41,918 at sun-drenched Nats Park.

After the game, manager Davey Johnson described Strasburg as having some “biceps soreness”, which started in the first inning and continued throughout the game, but Strasburg told reporters from the clubhouse that it was nothing more than normal soreness and to be expected as he continues to strengthen from Tommy John surgery. Strasburg said that , if anything, perhaps he overdid it earlier in the week in his bullpen session after a tough outing last time out when he was able to only complete four innings.

Strasburg and Johnson indicated that as of right now, they both believe Strasburg will make his next scheduled start.

Maybe he can DH until then.

Strasburg had two hits and two runs in addition to his five innings pitched. He singled and scored on Bryce Harper’s triple in the third inning, then completed back-to-back jacks with Jesus Flores (1) in the fourth. Proving he can do it all, Strasburg is hitting .375 this season.

Things didn’t start off so sunny for Strasburg, as the Orioles scored three times in the first two innings. But nothing was really hit all that hard against the power pitcher. Xavier Avery led off with a soft line drive single in the first and came around on a Nick Markakis single later in the inning. In the second, the Nats defense looked a little sleepy and it cost them.

A routine fly ball to left turned into a circus, as center fielder Bryce Harper called off left fielder Tyler Moore, then had the ball pop out of his mitt for a two-base error. The next batter hit a soft ground ball to Adam LaRoche that the first baseman didn’t charge and all hands were safe. A ground out and single plated two runs for the Orioles, and it looked like the Nats might be in trouble.

But that’s when Strasburg turned it on. After Avery’s run-scoring single in the second, Strasburg didn’t allow another runner, retiring the next ten batters in succession.

For the day, Strasburg pitched five innings and allowed just one earned run (three total) on four hits and one walk, striking out eight, to earn his fourth win of the season. Tom Gorzelanny, Tyler Clippard and Ryan Mattheus pitched the final four innings without allowing a run.

The Nats bats got going in the third. Strasburg started the rally with his single, then Danny Espinosa doubled down the left field line. Harper lined a rocket to right that Markakis dove for, but the ball came out of his glove when he hit the turf and Harper ended up on third with his second MLB triple as both runners scored. Two batters later, Ian Desmond hit into a fielder’s choice, but the contact plated Harper to tie the game.

The fourth inning saw the home run contest by the Nats’ catcher and pitcher off O’s starter Wei-Yin Chen (L, 4-1, 3.35).

Washington added insurance runs in the fifth and eighth innings, with Desmond picking up another RBI on a base hit, Espinosa’s two-run homer, and a sacrifice fly by Adam LaRoche that missed being a home run by about eight feet.

THE GOOD: Five batters had two hits apiece: Espinosa, Harper, Zimmerman, Desmond and Strasburg. Five extra base hits make it a lot easier to score multiple runs in an inning.

THE BAD: Xavier Nady went 0-for-3 with two Ks.

THE UGLY: Any time we’re talking potential injury and Strasburg it’s indeed scary. For all accounts, it sounds like Johnson was concerned about whatever discomfort Strasburg mentioned during the game, but that it doesn’t seem like a big deal at this point. But it does bear watching for next time out.

THE STATS: 12 hits, 5 BBs, 7 Ks. 2-for-8 with RISP, 8 LOB, o GIDP. E: Harper (3), 2 DPs.

NEXT GAME: Monday at 7:05 at Philadelphia Phillies. Gio Gonzalez (5-1, 2.22) faces Kyle Kendrick (0-3, 5.96).

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

Trackbacks

  1. […] Quick highlights from Sunday’s game: Nationals won 9-3. RHP Stephen Strasburg hit his first MLB home run and took a curtain call. Jesus Flores and Danny Espinosa also hit home runs. Washington Capitals Jason Chimera threw out ceremonial first pitch. You can read the full game re-cap here. […]

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