The Washington Nationals were two games over .500 at 26-24 after taking two of three from the Philadelphia Phillies back on May 24-26 in the one series the NL East division rivals have played thus far in 2013. Since then, they've been back and forth, over and under .500 by one or two games, but hovering right around .500, unable to string together more than two wins at a time.
This past week, however, they got Ross Detwiler back for the first time since May 15th and Stephen Strasburg took the mound on Sunday and held the Cleveland Indians to one run on one hit in 5.0 IP in which he showed no signs of a lingering issue with the strained lat which landed him on the DL. So with the two pitchers back in the rotation and the Nats no longer using fill-ins and call-ups, they should be able to start stringing together some wins, right?
"Well, it all depends on if we pitch well," Stephen Strasburg told reporters on Sunday after the 2-0 loss to the Indians which dropped the Nats down to .500 again at 34-34 as they start a three-game set in Philadelphia. It was the eighth time this season that the Nationals have been shut out in a loss, but even after receiving no run support yesterday, the Nats' '09 no.1 overall pick said he thought the offense would eventually come around.
"It's tough," the Nationals' 24-year-old right-hander said, "We go from the year that we had last year where everything seemed to fall into place, [and] it just doesn't seem to work that way this time, but we've still got a long way to go. I have a lot of faith in these guys, and I know how hard every single guy in this clubhouse works and we're going to figure it out and when we do, it's going to be fun."
The pitchers, Strasburg said, have to, "... go out there and give the team a chance to win, and that's what we've got to keep doing and the runs will come and we'll figure it out."
Having a healthy Strasburg back on the mound will certainly help too. After throwing 82 pitches on Sunday in his first start since May 31st and first competitive action outside of a simulated game as he worked his way back, the Nats' starter said he felt good getting back on the mound. "It was good to be out there, no.1," Strasburg said, "It's kind of been, two weeks, I think, so I just wanted to go out there and try to pound the strike zone as much as I could."
"A little hit and miss, kind of to be expected," Strasburg said of his stuff against the Indians, "So, I can't really worry about it too much, but I felt like I threw a lot of good pitches in there and kept the team in the ballgame." The one run he allowed was all Cleveland needed though, as the right-hander took the loss and fell to (3-6) on the year, with a 2.50 ERA, 3.24 FIP, 25 walks (2.84 BB/9) and 77 Ks (8.74 K/9) in 13 starts and 79.1 IP.
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