Washington Nationals' Stephen Strasburg Returns, Dominates In 5.0 Scoreless, Nats Lose To Los Angeles Dodgers 7-3.

• Tonight's Strasburg Top 5: 

5. He's BACK!!!: The night Stephen Strasburg has been waiting for since the moment he got the diagnosis of a "significant tear of the ulnar collateral ligament" in his right elbow almost didn't happen. Stephen Strasburg's return to the majors after a year of rehabbing from Tommy John surgery was threatened by rain and up in the air until the very last moment. The tarp didn't come off the field until less than an hour remained before the game's scheduled start time and until he walked out to the right field corner in Nats Park and began his warmup routine there were serious questions about whether or not the Nats' '09 no.1 overall pick would pitch. At 7:10 pm EDT, the right-handed phenom threw his first pitch of 2011, a 96 mph fastball that Dodgers' leadoff man Dee Gordon fouled off. Three pitches later, the Nats' starter surrendered his first hit of the season when he left a 2-1 fastball up that was lined into left-center for a leadoff double. Eight pitches, a fly to center, weak grounder and fly to right later, Gordon was stranded on third as Strasburg completed his first scoreless frame. 11 pitches, 7 strikes. Welcome back, Strasburg!!

4. Filthy 0-2 Change = Not Fair: After a long 32-pitch bottom of the first by LA lefty Ted Lilly in which the Nats loaded the bases but failed to score, Strasburg came back out for his second inning of work. Dodgers' outfielder Andre Ethier fouled off the 95 mph fastball that started Strasburg's second frame and K'd swinging through a filthy 1-2 change that bounced before it reached the plate. An 0-2 fastball inside and high at 99mph got Aaron Miles swinging for K no. 2 and a fly to center by Dodgers' catcher Rod Barajas on a 98 mph 3-1 fastball had Strasburg through two on 23 pitches after a 12-pitch, 1-2-3 second. 

3. 10-Game Hit Streak For Rhino: Another Nats' first rounder, Chris Marrero collected his first extra base hit in the Nationals' second, doubling to the right-center gap and hustling around to second, and a double by Wilson Ramos followed, extending the Nats' catcher's hit streak to 10 games and driving in the Nats' first run, 1-0 Nationals. Strasburg got a bunt down, trying to move Ramos over to third, but Ted Lilly threw it by first allowing Ramos to score and put the Nats up 2-0 early. Strasburg took second, then third on an Ian Desmond single, before scoring on an RBI groundout by Werth that gave the right-hander a 3-0 lead to work with. 

2. Stras <3's P2C: One pitch, one out to start the third as Strasburg popped up Dodgers' second baseman Justin Sellers. Ted Lilly battled for seven pitches before grounding out sharply to second, and Dee Gordon grounded back to the mound as Strasburg rolled through the third. 35 pitches, 24 strikes and one hit allowed through 3.0 scoreless. The Nats went down in order in the third and Strasburg was back on the hill. James Loney crushed a 95 mph 2-1 two-seamer but lined out to Jonny Gomes in right. A low 98 mph 1-1 heater to Matt Kemp got Strasburg ahead of the Dodgers' three-hole hitter, and a 1-2 change put him away. K no. 3. A grounder to short by Juan Rivera got under Ian Desmond's glove for the Dodgers' second hit, but a 97 mph 1-2 fastball up high got Andre Ethier swinging for Strasburg's fourth K and fourth scoreless!! Strasburg's up to 48 pitches after a 13-pitch frame. 

1. Well Done, Strasburg: Wilson Ramos walked to start the Nats' fourth, but Strasburg K'd trying to bunt him over, Ian Desmond grounded out and Jayson Werth flew to right to end a relatively quick frame by Ted Lilly and Strasburg was back out for the 5th with a light rain falling in Nats Park. Aaron Miles popped out to left on a 94 mph two-seamer. One pitch, one out. Rod Barajas grounded out to short on a 95 mph 1-1 fastball after a 79 mph 0-1 curve and Strasburg got up 0-2 on Justin Sellers and popped him up with a 97 mph four-seamer to finish 5.0 scoreless! 56 pitches, 40 strikes, 4 K's, 2 hits allowed, 4 groundouts, 5 flyouts, 3-0 Nationals after four and a half. 

0. Strasburg Gets No-Decision: Doug Slaten replaced Strasburg in the sixth, and surrendered back-to-back singles before striking out James Loney. With two on and one out, Davey Johnson brought Brad Peacock out of the pen to make his major league debut. Peacock started with a strike, 95 mph outside, but a grounder to short on the next pitch ate up Ian Desmond, who tried to matador it and missed allowing the Dodgers' first run to score, 3-1 Nationals. Peacock missed with a full-count fastball to Juan Rivera that loaded the bases for Andre Ethier, who singled up the middle to drive in two runs and tie it at 3-3. No decision for Strasburg. A double play got Peacock out of the frame and it was a 3-3 game after five and a half. 

• 3-3 Rain Delay at 9:37...

-1. 10:08 PM EDT LET SEVERINO PITCH!!: After he was called up twice before but never made it to the mound, Nats' left-hander Atahualpa Severino finally made his MLB debut tonight after a thirty-minute rain delay which cleared out what was left of the Nats Park crowd. Peacock had given up a two-out single by Dee Gordon before the rain, and the speedy leadoff man stole second as Severino pitched to James Loney, eventually striking him out to end the top of the frame. Dodgers' right-hander Kenley Jansen hit Jayson Werth, but struck out the side in the seventh. Henry "Lightning" Rodriguez finally gave up the lead in the 8th, allowing one and two-out singles and a two-run double by LA backstop Rod Barajas that put the Dodgers up 5-3 after seven and a half.

-2. New No. 1: Stephen Lombardozzi made his MLB debut in the 8th against former Nats', current-Dodgers' reliever Mike MacDougal, who walked the Nats' infield prospect. A wild pitch allowed Lombardozzi to take second, and a groundout by Danny Espinosa moved him to third, but two outs later he was stranded on a Wilson Ramos' groundout to short. Still 5-3 LA. Yunesky Maya loaded the bases in the top of the ninth and gave up a two-out double by Andre Ethier that made it 7-3 Dodgers after eight and a half. Rick Ankiel singled and Ian Desmond walked to start the Nats' ninth against LA's Javy Guerra and four hours and six minutes after the game started the Nats' threatened to rally in the bottom of the ninth. Guerra got the first out on a backwards K by Werth, but gave up a one-out, base-loading single to Ryan Zimmerman in front of Michael Morse. A backwards K by Morse left it up to Corey Brown in yet another MLB debut, but a fly to left mercifully ended it at 11:16. 

• Miss The Game? The DC Faithful Were Watching...

Num Name - Comments
1 dc Roach - 230
2 MissB - 127
3 cat daddy3000 - 107
4 Mezza - 59
5 jeff550 - 51
6 The Herndon Kid - 46
7 brook - 29
8 kingfishfarms - 28
9 Jeff T - 26
10 d_c_guy - 24

 

• Nationals now 65-75. 

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