Stephen Strasburg made his first start in Nationals Park since May 26th tonight. In his last outing in the nation's capital, against the Philadelphia Phillies, the 24-year-old, 2009 no.1 overall pick held opposing hitters to just one run on five hits in eight innings pitched in which he struck out nine and lowered his ERA in the Washington Nationals' home to 1.09 on the year after 33.0 innings. In his next start after that outing against the Braves in Atlanta's Turner Field, a bothersome strain of the right lat muscle acted up and forced Strasburg off the mound and eventually on to the 15-Day DL. Strasburg returned to face Cleveland last weekend in Progressive Field, throwing 82 pitches in 5.0 innings of a 2-1 loss to the Indians in which he gave up just one hit, four walks and one run.
Strasburg got the first out with one pitch tonight, when the Rockies' Dexter Fowler flew to center to start the game, and the Nationals' right-hander got two more quick outs in a 12-pitch, 1-2-3 opening frame that ended with Carlos Gonzalez swinging through a 2-2 change. Anthony Rendon hit an opposite field single to right off Colorado right-hander Tyler Chatwood in the bottom of the first, but the 23-year-old LA Angels' '08 2nd Round pick, acquired in a November 2011 trade for Chris Iannetta, completed a scoreless 15-pitch inning by retiring both Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche after Rendon's one-out hit.
Anthony Rendon dove for a sharp grounder to the right side off Michael Cuddyer's bat, but the veteran outfielder got one through and singled to start the top of the second. Cuddyer swiped second as Stephen Strasburg missed inside with a 1-2 pitch to Wilin Rosario and then took third when Rosario grounded out to second for the first out of the inning. Strasburg dropped a filthy 2-2 bender on a bewildered Todd Helton for out no.2 of the second and got a weak grounder to short from Nolan Arenado to end a 20-pitch inning that had him 32 overall after two.
Steve Lombardozzi walked with two down in the Nationals' second, taking Tyler Chatwood's seventeenth pitch of the inning for ball four, but with Kurt Suzuki up, Lombardozzi was caught stealing for the final out of the Nationals' second inning.
Rockies' shortstop Josh Rutledge was brushed with a pitch inside in the first at bat of the third. With a leadoff runner on, Tyler Chatwood bunted/gave up an out and moved Rutledge to second. Stephen Strasburg threw a 1-2 two-seamer outside by Dexter Fowler for a swinging strike three and out no.2, but Rockies' second baseman DJ LeMahieu jumped on a first-pitch curve and singled to left to bring Rutledge around ahead of a throw in from Steve Lombardozzi to make it 1-0 Colorado after two and a half. 10-pitch inning for Strasburg, 42 overall after 3.0.
Tyler Chatwood threw a 16-pitch, 1-2-3 frame in the bottom of the third to complete three scoreless on 51 pitches overall. 1-0 Rockies.
Another 10-pitch inning for Stephen Strasburg ended with Todd Helton grounding sharply to third where Nats' third baseman Ryan Zimmerman made a backhand stab and spinning sidearm that beat the veteran Rockies' first baseman to first base for the final out of a 1-2-3 inning. 52 overall after four. Nolan Arenado charged a weak grounder off Anthony Rendon's bat and bounced a throw Todd Helton picked. The Rockies' third baseman fielded a sharp grounder off Ryan Zimmerman's bat and made a strong throw to first for out no.2. Adam LaRoche singled through the shift with two out in the next at bat, but Jayson Werth grounded into a force to end Tyler Chatwood's fourth scoreless.
A 1-2 curve to Nolan Arenado pulled the Rockies' infielder across the plate on a swinging strike three. Ian Desmond made a backhand play and a strong throw from the hole that first base ump Andy Fletcher said arrived a step too late to get Josh Rutledge. One-out single instead. Tyler Chatwood bunted Rutledge over to second/gave up an out. Dexter Fowler spit on a 2-2 curve in the dirt to work the count full, but took a backdoor bender for a called strike three and the third out of the fifth. 68 total after five for Strasburg. Ian Desmond, Steve Lombardozzi and Kurt Suzuki went down in order in the bottom of the inning, and Tyler Chatwood had a two-hit shutout through five vs the Nationals. 1-0 Rockies.
DJ LeMahieu took a first-pitch fastball to right for a leadoff, line drive single to right in the top of the sixth. Stephen Strasburg's 2-2 fastball to Carlos Gonzalez took off halfway toward home and broke right across the plate away from the Rockies' slugger's bat for the Nationals' starter's seventh K in 5.1 IP. A fly to right Michael Cuddyer on an 0-2 fastball got Strasburg the second out of the sixth and Wilin Rosario chased a 97 mph 2-2 fastball upstairs for K no.8 and the third out of the Rockies' inning. 14-pitch inning, 82 overall for Strasburg.
Strasburg grounded out to second for the first out of the Nats' sixth inning. Denard Span did the same. Anthony Rendon hit a bloop single to right that dropped between three converging Rockies' defenders. Rendon was 2 for 3 with two of the Nats' three hits off Tyler Chatwood after the two-out single, and he scored when Ryan Zimmerman went with a 2-1 slider outside and doubled to right to bring Rendon around and tie it at 1-1 in the sixth. Zimmerman's 13th double of 2013. Adam LaRoche got the intentionals from Chatwood to put two on with two out, but Jayson Werth's fly to right ended the sixth.
Todd Helton flew to Steve Lombardozzi in left-center for the first out of the seventh. An 81 mph 1-2 curve got Nolan Arenado swinging for K no. 9 in 6.2 IP. Josh Rutledge doubled to left field on an 0-1 curve, leaving him 2 for 2 with a walk tonight against Strasburg. Pinch hitter Tyler Colvin, 3 for 3 w/ 2 HRs vs Strasburg in their respective careers, hit for Tyler Chatwood, but popped out to Ryan Zimmerman in foul territory in left where Zimmerman made an over the shoulder basket catch that had Strasburg pumping his fist excitedly as he walked off the mound. Ian Desmond stepped in against Rockies' right-hander Manny Corpas in the bottom of the seventh and hit a 2-0 fastball to center... and over the GEICO sign on the high outfield wall. GONE! HR for Desmond. 2-1 Nationals. No.12 of 2013 for no.20. 2-1 Nats after seven.
Drew Storen walked Dexter Fowler in the first at bat of the eighth. DJ LeMahieu popped up a bunt that Storen came off the mound to catch, but the Nats' right-hander threw to first and right by Anthony Rendon to allow Fowler to advance to second on the out. Storen got up 0-2 on Carlos Gonzalez and got a called strike three with a 96 mph sinker inside and got Michael Cuddyer with an 0-2 slider outside. Strike three swinging. 2-1 Nats in the eighth. Manny Corpas came back out for the Nats' eighth and retired the first two batters before walking Ryan Zimmermann. The Rockies went to the pen for Josh Outman against Adam LaRoche and Outman got a line drive to second with the first pitch he threw.
"Pitch it, Soriano! Pitch it, Soriano! Strike him out, Soriano! Strike him out, Soriano!" Rafael Soriano came out for the top of the ninth looking for save no.19 of 2013. Wilin Rosario K'd swinging at an 0-2 slider in the dirt. ONE! Todd Helton went the other way with a 1-1 fastball and singled to left. Pinch runner Jonathan Herrera took over at first. Nolan Arenado popped up behind first, but Anthony Rendon dropped it after hustling over to get under it. Arenado popped up to right on the next pitch, however, leaving it up to Josh Rutledge. The Rockies' infielder fouled off a 2-1 pitch to go to a 2-2 count and grounded out to a diving Adam LaRoche at first base! BALLGAME! WHAT A PLAY!!
Work's done! Untuck that jersey, son!!
Nationals now 37-36.