A highly anticipated match up of the aces of their respective teams, neither provided the pitching duel that many had tuned their televisions in for. RHP Stephen Strasburg and RHP Johnny Cueto faced off in a rubber match between MLB's two winningest teams just one season ago. A series of power and several home runs, one would have assumed that this game would have been the black sheep of the three game series with pitching taking the helm.
Strasburg showed early warning signs of a troubling game in the bottom of the 1st. He allowed 3 runs, all earned, as the Reds took advantage of two infield singles and a walk to load the bases for Jay Bruce, who doubled in two runs followed by Todd Frazier's RBI groundout. Strasburg would not go an inning without a batter on base.
The Nationals got even in the top of second with an 8 At-Bat inning capped off with C Kurt Suzuki's (3-4 today) 3 run home run to tie the game up. Minus Suzuki's 3 hit game, the Nationals bats stayed rather quiet this afternoon as both pitchers kept the game even until the bottom of the 6th. Strasburg never did gain control, however, as he loaded the bases on 3 occasions throughout the game, to include the bottom of the 6th where Strasburg allowed another 3 runs (all earned) to the Reds in a 9 At-Bat inning. Strasburg was then replaced with 1 out in the 6th by Ryan Mattheus.
Mattheus continued Strasburg's command struggles, allowing an infield single and a walk to keep the bases loaded, only to get out of the jam and pitch through the 7th. The Nationals then faced LHP Sean Marshall, who made his first appearance of the season. Marshall showed no signs of wear and tear as he went 1-2-3 through the Nationals order to include a Bryce Harper strikeout. Marshall would turn it over to the duo of Jonathan Broxton and Aroldis Chapman to finish the game. Both pitchers sailed through their innings of work with Chapman allowing a double to Suzuki and striking out the following 2 batters to close out the game for his second save of the season.
Strasburg didn't quite bring the same game he did in his season opener against the Marlins as he gave up 6 ER on 9 hits and 4 walks. He struck out 5, yet had a Strike-Ball count of 73-41. The Reds lineup proved to be the dominant factor over this series with 27 runs to the Nationals 10, 7 homers to the Nats 5, and 43 hits to the Nationals 22. The Nationals move to 4-2 on the season and fall into second place early on, behind the red hot Braves who won 5-1 today against the Chicago Cubs.
The Nationals get the day off tomorrow as they travel home for their first inter-league series against the Chicago White Sox. LHP Gio Gonzalez (1-0) will get the call tomorrow after blanking the Marlins in his first start, hitting a home run of his own. He will be opposed by RHP Jake Peavy who came off a gem in his first start. The game starts at 7:05 ET. Til next time Natituders!