Stephen Strasburg was reinstated from the 15-Day DL (lat strain) before this afternoon's game, in time to make his second career start against the Cleveland Indians. The Washington Nationals' 24-year-old, '09 no.1 overall pick pitched in Progressive Field back in June of 2010 in his second major league outing, allowing just one run on two hits in five and a 1/3 innings of work. Start no.58 of Strasburg's career began for the right-hander at around 1:17 pm EDT, after fellow Nats' 1st Round pick Anthony Rendon (2011) had doubled for the seventh time this season to extend his current hit streak to ten straight games, over which the 23-year-old second baseman was 16 for 36 with 6 doubles and one home run, last night's game winner. Rendon was stranded in the top of the first, however, so Strasburg took the mound in a scoreless game...
Strasburg walked Indians' leadoff man Michael Bourn on five pitches in the first at bat of the home-half of the second, but four pitches later, he had two outs after Mike Aviles rolled one out to short so Ian Desmond could start a 6-3 DP, fielding the grounder, stepping on second and throwing to first. Two down. A nine-pitch, two-out walk to Jason Kipnis followed, but the Nats' right-hander got up 0-2 on Carlos Santana before popping Cleveland's catcher up to end a 22-pitch, 12-strike bottom of the first in Ohio. 0-0 after one.
Jayson Werth dumped a leadoff single into short right to start the second, but he was doubled up on a 4-6-3 DP off Ian Desmond's bat. Nats' DH Chad Tracy stepped in with two out and flew to left to end 27-year-old Indians' right-hander Corey Kluber's second scoreless inning. Stephen Strasburg started behind Michael Brantley, 3-0, but worked the count full and got a groundout to short to start Cleveland's second. Grounder. Desmond. Out. Strasburg went to a full-count with Mark Reynolds too, but got the first baseman on a check-swing strike three with a filthy change on his 34th pitch of the game. Another groundout to short ended the second after 14-pitches by Strasburg, who was at 36 overall after two.
Jhonatan Solano, Roger Bernadina and Denard Span went down in order in a quick, 10-pitch, 1-2-3 third by Corey Kluber. Indians' third baseman John McDonald got hold of a 1-0 fastball, but lined out to a sprinting Roger Bernadina in right for the first out of Cleveland's third. Stephen Strasburg threw back-to-back 97 mph fastballs by Drew Stubbs for a swinging K and out no.2. Michael Bourn rolled a 2-1 heater out to short... Grounder. Desmond. Out. ... and the Nats' starter was at 47 pitches overall after an 11-pitch, 1-2-3 3rd. 0-0 after three in Progressive Field. Seven in a row set down by Strasburg.
Nats' second baseman Anthony Rendon had hits in four straight at bats after sending an opposite field single to right to start the top of the fourth and he went from first to third when Indians' third baseman John McDonald threw one by second on a force attempt in the next at bat. Ryan Zimmerman reached safely on the throwing error and Rendon took third. Corey Kluber got out no.1 on a called strike three on Adam LaRoche with a 1-2 two-seamer that broke back in late on the fooled Nats' first baseman. A 2-2 slider outside got Jayson Werth swinging for out no.2 and Ian Desmond made it three-straight strikeouts to end the top of the inning. Still 0-0.
Grounder. Desmond. Out. Mike Aviles rolled a 2-2 four-seamer out to short to start the Indians' fourth with the eighth-straight out recorded by Stephen Strasburg. A 3-1 fastball to Jason Kipnis missed high outside missed as Strasburg walked the Indians' second baseman in back-to-back ABs with eight outs in between the free passes. Kipnis got a good jump on Strasburg and stole second easily, advanced to third on a throwing error by Jhonatan Solano and scored on a one-out single to center by Carlos Santana, who took a low 2-2 fastball back up the middle for an RBI single and Cleveland's first hit. 1-0 Indians. A fly to center and swinging K followed in what ended up a 23-pitch inning by the Nationals' starter. 70 overall.
Given a lead to work with, Indians' right-hander Corey Kluber went out and threw a quick, 11-pitch, 1-2-3 5th vs the Nationals, retiring Chad Tracy, Jhonatan Solano and Roger Bernadina in order in the top of the inning. Stephen Strasburg issued the fourth free pass of the game to John McDonald with one down in the Indians' fifth. A line drive to left and backwards Ks followed with Strasburg getting Michael Bourn looking with a 1-2 heater to end a 12-pitch inning at 82 overall on the day. 1-0 Indians.
Denard Span reached first safely on a throwing error by Jason Kipnis, then took second on the E with Anthony Rendon due up. The Nats' rookie infielder's third hit of the game (and fifth in his last five at bats) was an opposite field single that sent Span over to third, putting runners on the corners again with no one out. Ryan Zimmerman took a 2-2 fastball outside that was really close, then K'd swinging over a full-count curve for an unproductive out no.1 and Adam LaRoche hit a 1-1 slider out to second to start an inning-ending 4-6-3 DP.
• Stephen Strasburg's Line: 5.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 4 Ks, 82 P, 44 S, 6/1 GO/FO
Fernando Abad started the bottom of the sixth, ending the 58th start of Stephen Strasburg's career after 5.0 innings. The Nationals' left-handed reliever gave up a one-out single to center by Jason Kipnis. Anthony Rendon dropped a throw from Abad on what should have been an inning-ending 1-4-3 off Carlos Santana's bat, but Rendon recovered the ball and tagged Kipnis to at least get the lead runner, and Abad picked his defense up by striking Michael Brantley out to end the bottom of the sixth. Still 1-0 Indians.
Jayson Werth dumped a leadoff double into short right and just inside the line. Ian Desmond took a fastball to the hip to put two runners on with no one out. Pinch hitter Steve Lombardozzi stepped in for Chad Tracy and popped up a bunt... that Corey Kluber couldn't catch. Bases loaded. Jhonatan Solano (aka Onion) stepped in with no one out and the bases loaded, fell behind 0-2 quickly and lined out to first where Mark Reynolds made the catch and stepped on first. Double play. Two outs. Roger Bernadina's groundout to short made it three. 1-0 Indians after six and a half.
Craig Stammen gave up a one-out single to right by Yan Gomes, but got John McDonald swinging and popped Drew Stubs up to end the seventh with the score still 1-0 Cleveland.
Corey Kluber came back out for the eighth. A fly to left by Denard Span and swinging K by Anthony Rendon got the Indians' right-hander two quick outs. Ryan Zimmerman? Groundout to second, 1-0 Indians in the eighth. Michael Bourn lined to left field on a 1-0 fastball from Craig Stammen and doubled to start home-half of the inning. A sac bunt by Mike Aviles moved Bourn over to third and a sac fly to right brought him in. 2-0 Indians after eight.
Vinnie Pestano came out to close out the ninth and the series win. Adam LaRoche lined into the shift, with Jason Kipnis in short right to make the play on a hard, one-hop liner. Jayson Werth walked with one down to bring the tying run to the plate. Ian Desmond flew to right for out no.2. Steve Lombardozzi? Groundout to short. Ballgame. The Nationals drop 2 of 3 in Ohio. Back to .500.
Nationals now 34-34