Washington Nationals' manager Davey Johnson pulled Stephen Strasburg after just 3.0 IP last time out, but it wasn't an attempt to save a few innings on the sly this time. On a 104° day in Atlanta's Turner Field, the 23-year-old right-hander struggled with the heat and was dehydrated. When he came back to the dugout after running the bases in the top of the fourth, the Nats' skipper said he took one look at his pitcher and decided he was done. "'When he came back in, he was white as a sheet,'" Johnson told reporters including CSNWashington.com's Mark Zuckerman, "And I said: 'That's it.'" Strasburg didn't seem too happy with the decision at first, he was seen pleading with pitching coach Steve McCatty for an explanation while Johnson talked to the umpire about allowing Chien-Ming Wang the time he needed to get loose. After he was lifted, however, Strasburg retired the clubhouse, where he received IV fluids to counter the effects of the heat.
Speaking to reporters after the game, Strasburg expressed disappointment with how his outing had gone. "It's tough out there," Strasburg said, "Obviously I wanted to go out there and compete. And I expected a lot more out of myself, so, by no means was I going out there thinking that I wasn't prepared for it. I thought I did everything I could to be ready for it as far as hydrating and everything, so I just [have] to learn from it and it's a tough situation, but there's nothing I can do about it now."
"I felt like I let the team down today," Strasburg said, "It's just something that I've got to get over." The Nationals' starter took the loss in the game against the Braves, dropping two straight decisions for the first time this season. That's the last game the Nats have lost as they took the series finale in Atlanta and three-straight at home against the Giants in the just-completed series with San Francisco. It's not going to be much easier tonight. As of 5:45 pm EDT, it's 99° in the nation's capital. Can a determined Stras stay hydrated, bounce back, end his own two-game losing streak and help the Nationals to their fourth win in a row?
• Here's the lineup that will take the field behind the Nationals' ace at 7:05 pm EDT tonight in Nats Park. GameThread's up at 6:35 pm EDT:
#Nationals lineup vs. Colorado - Espinosa 4, Harper 8, Zimmerman 5, Morse 9, LaRoche 3, Desmond 6, Moore 7, Flores 2, Strasburg 1— Nationals PR (@NationalsPR) July 6, 2012