Even as much as a perfectionist that Stephen Strasburg is, even he can’t be too upset with the first performance of the season. Strasburg gave up three hits and two runs on mostly fastballs in two innings in the Washington Nationals Grapefruit League opener and the Nats fell to the New York Mets, 5-3, at Legends Field in Port St. Lucie, FL. (More photos).
The first start of spring training is meant to get the rust off and adjust to pitching with adrenaline for the first time of the year, and Strasburg looked like he had plenty of rust and was a little too amped up. He did not have the fine fastball control on his 42 pitches and gave up a two-run home run in the first inning to slap-hitting shortstop Ruben Tejada. Granted, the ball carries well to left center at Tradition Field, but the 3-2 pitch was a belt-high fastball that Tejada just squared up against Strasburg.
But the Nats ace didn’t walk a batter, coaxed three groundouts and struck out his final hitter to end the second inning.
Craig Stammen took over and threw two innings himself. He gave up a run on three hits and struck out one.
Cole Kimball, returning from rotator cuff surgery, threw a scoreless inning as the last Nats pitcher of the day.
Washington combined for eight hits, including two from non-roster invitee catcher Chris Snyder, who homered in his first at bat against Mets starter Shawn Marcum. Ian Desmond singled and scored a run while Chris Marrero doubled and scored for the visiting Nats.
The Nats turned two double plays, both by Zach Walters and Will Rhymes, most likely the middle infield for AAA-Syracuse this season.
The Nationals host the Miami Marlins Sunday at 1:05 pm in their home opener from Space Coast Stadium in Viera, FL.