October 30, 2014

Washington Nationals Spring Training: Strasburg sharp in three inning stint

If you asked him after the game, Stephen Strasburg probably wasn’t entirely happy about his fastball command in his Thursday night outing against the New York Mets. But the Washington Nationals ace was in midseason for with his changeup and curveball, good enough to strike out six in three innings. Strasburg was long gone before the final out was recorded in a 10-inning 4-4 tie.

Strasburg threw 31 of his 53 pitches for strikes on the evening, with his biting curveball as sharp as ever. He allowed one run on three hits and two walks. Five of his six strikeouts came on called strikes, mostly the change or curve.

The only run Strasburg allowed came in the first inning. Jordany Valdespin singled on a 2-1 fastball to lead off, took second on Collin Cowgill’s broken bat single — on another fastball — and scored on a Mike Baxter sacrifice fly. Strasburg then sat Andrew Brown and Kirk Nieuwenhuis on called strikes to end the inning. Strasburg gave up a walk in both the second and third innings but were stranded without incident.

The Nats got that run back in the second, as top prospect Anthony Rendon continued to impress this spring, doubling home Danny Espinosa, who reached on his own double. Rendon drove in another run in the fourth on a fielder’s choice and is hitting .417 this spring.

Zach Duke, expected to be the Nats left-handed long reliever, gave up an unearned run and three hits in his two innings of work, striking out two. Yuniesky Maya struck out three in two innings, but was roughed up for two runs on three hits and two walks. Minor league reliever Patrick McCoy pitched one perfect inning and Ryan Mattheus followed with two hitless and walkless innings, striking out three in his appearance.

Perhaps the most exciting sequence of the afternoon came in the third inning. Denard Span drew a walk to lead off the frame. Span stole second as Kurt Suzuki struck out, and on a 2-1 count stole third base while Jayson Werth was at bat. Two pitches later, the Nats had another run after Werth’s groundout brought Span home easily.

The Nats travel to Disney on Friday to face the Braves at 6:05 pm.

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. 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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