"Right forearm stiffness" resulted in Stephen Strasburg being scratched from his last two scheduled starts, and before tonight's home-schedule-ending outing against the Miami Marlins in Nationals Park, Washington Nationals' manager Davey Johnson was still expressing some concern about the 25-year-old right-hander as the '09 no.1 overall pick headed into his 29th start of the season. "My concern is that he's going to be okay," Johnson said, "Hopefully he'll be all right. I stayed off [Ross] Ohlendorf and [Craig] Stammen just to make sure I had some innings in case he [had] any discomfort. But we need to win one tonight."
The Nationals fell behind early in Dan Haren's start in the day half of today's day/night split doubleheader and eventually lost to the Marlins, 4-2. Strasburg wasn't exactly sharp in the first few innings of the nightcap either with the Fish either. Donovan Solano doubled to left on a 1-2 curve, took third and scored on consecutive groundouts and the Marlins led 1-0 after a 20-pitch opening frame. Justin Ruggiano hit a 3-2 fastball out to left in the first at bat of the second, and Miami was up 2-0 after an inning and a half in the nation's capital.
Washington tied things up at 2-2 in the fourth with Anthony Rendon, Denard Span and Ryan Zimmerman all singling off Fish lefty Brian Flynn, but a one-out single by Giancarlo Stanton, a two-out walk by Chris Coghlan and an RBI single by Marlins' shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria had Miami up by one again after four, 3-2 Fish. Strasburg's 30-pitch fourth inning had him up to 71 overall after four. The Nationals loaded the bases with no one out in the bottom of the inning, but couldn't push the all-important third run across.
As the Nats like to point out in their pregame notes, "In 32 career starts when provided with 3+ runs of offensive support while in the game, [Strasburg] is 23-2 with a 3.10 ERA and Washington is 29-4."
The Nationals didn't get that third run until after their starter was out of the game tonight, but it was Strasburg's pinch hitter who sparked the rally that put the Nats ahead for the first time. Marlins' right-hander Ryan Webb hit Tyler Moore to start the home-half of the sixth and Steve Lombardozzi, in Strasburg's spot, doubled to send Moore's pinch runner, Jeff Kobernus, around to third. Miami's skipper Mike Redmond went to his pen for lefty Dan Jennings, but a 2-2 slider to Denard Span ended up in going through the right side of the infield for a two-run single that made it 4-3 Nats after six.
Stephen Strasburg's Line: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 6 Ks, 1 HR, 109P, 71 S, 7/2 GO/FO.
Craig Stammen gave up a one-out walk in the Marlins' seventh, but got an inning-ending 6-4-3 out of Donovan Solano to preserve the Nats' 4-3 lead. A.J. Ramos came on for Miami in the bottom of the seventh. Ian Desmond singled with one down and stole his 20th base of 2013 with Wilson Ramos at the plate. Adam LaRoche took a two-out walk after Ramos flew out to center, but he and Desmond were stranded when Anthony Rendon grounded into a force to end the seventh. Still 4-3 Nats.
Ian Desmond with is 20th stolen base of the season. With that he records his 2nd 20/20 season of his career, 3rd in #Nationals history.— Nationals PR (@NationalsPR) September 23, 2013
Tyler Clippard took the mound in the eighth and gave up back-to-back one-out doubles by Christian Yelich and Giancarlo Stanton, with Stanton's, a ground ball by third, scoring Yelich to tie things up at 4-4 after seven and half in the nation's capital. A.J. Ramos came back for another inning of work and retired the Nationals in order.
Rafael Soriano came on in a non-save situation in a tie game in the top of the ninth and threw a 1-2-3 inning on eight pitches, seven of them strikes. Sam Dyson replaced A.J. Ramos with Jayson Werth due to lead off the home-half of the ninth and gave up a line drive double to left that put the winning run on second with nobody out. Bryce Harper flew to center unproductively for out no.1. Ian Desmond was walked intentionally in front of Wilson Ramos and Werth's pinch runner Eury Perez and Desmond pulled a double steal.
Nationals now 84-72