Stephen Strasburg entered the Sunday matinee with the Marlins in Miami with just one win (1-5) in thirteen starts away from Nationals Park this season. Washington's '09 no.1 overall pick had a 4.56 road ERA (vs 1.55 at home), a 4.46 FIP (vs 2.26 in D.C.), 34 walks (4.31 BB/9 as opposed to 1.55 BB/9 in the nation's capital) and 72 Ks (9.13 K/9 vs 9.87) over 71 innings on the mound on the road before this afternoon's start in Marlins Park.
Opposing hitters had just a .222/.323/.376 line against Strasburg in those outings, however, but the right-hander received little support from his teammates and therefore struggled to pick up wins in spite of allowing two earned runs or less in eight of his 13 road starts, five of which saw the 25-year-old right-hander allow one earned run or less. Strasburg would end up allowing four earned runs in six innings today in Miami, but as the Nationals' pregame notes mentioned, in 32 starts in his career when he's received three runs of support or more while on the mound, Strasburg was (22-2) with Washington 28-4 before today. The Nats scored six for him today and Strasburg improved to 23-2 when he's received 3+ runs of support while on the hill after the Nationals' series-clinching 6-4 win...
• Here's how it happened:
Wilson Ramos gave Strasburg one run to work with when the Nationals' catcher took an 0-1 fastball from 22-year-old Marlins' starter Jacob Turner to left field and over the Clevelander bar in Marlins Park for a solo home run in the first at bat of the second after the Nats' starter threw a 12-pitch, 1-2-3 opening frame. HR no.11 of 2013 for Ramos.
Justin Ruggiano and Logan Morrison hit back-to-back singles off Stephen Strasburg in the Marlins' second, and the Nats' starter missed inside with a 3-1 fastball to Placido Polanco to load the bases with no one out. Home plate ump Gary Cederstrom called a balk on Strasburg in the next at bat, forcing the tying run in, 1-1, and a swinging bunt by Adeiny Hechavarria that Strasburg played brought Morrison in from third for a 2-1 Marlins' lead. Another walk to Fish catcher Rob Brantly put runners on the corners with one out and a sac bunt by Jacob Turner moved Brantly to second with Polanco on third. Another balk by Strasburg with Chris Coghlan up brought Polanco in for the Marlins' third run to make it 3-1 Miami. 23-pitch inning for Strasburg, 35 overall after two.
Make that 3-2 Marlins. Ryan Zimmerman took an 0-1 cutter from Jacob Turner to left and off the Clevelander sign beyond the left field wall for his third homer in two games in Miami and his 20th home run of 2013. Jayson Werth doubled for the 18th time this season in the next AB and scored from third one out later on Ian Desmond's 35th two-base hit of 2013. 3-3 game in Miami. After his offense picked him up, Stephen Strasburg came back with an 11-pitch, 2 K, 1-2-3 bottom of the third that had him up to 46 pitches overall.
Denard Span was 0 for 2 today when he stepped up for the third time against Jacob Turner in the top of the fourth and extended his career-high hit streak to 19 games (over which he was 31 for 76, .408 AVG) with a single after Stephen Strasburg had walked to start the frame. Two outs later there were runners on first and third when Adam LaRoche K'd swinging to end the inning. Still 3-3 in the fourth. Stephen Strasburg needed 13 pitches to retire the Marlins in order in the bottom of the fourth, with Adeiny Hechavarria taking a 1-2 curve for a called strike three to end the inning. 59 pitches overall, 5 Ks for Strasburg, eight in-a-row retired.
Ian Desmond singled to center to start the fifth then stole his 19th base of 2013 with Wilson Ramos at the plate. Desmond was running when Ramos sent a weak roller toward short and with Placido Polanco trying to cover third it got through the hole and allowed Desmond to score and make it 4-3 Nationals. Jacob Turner was lifted there in favor of Marlins' right-hander Ryan Webb. Anthony Rendon lined to left with one down and Christian Yelich made an ill-advised diving attempt to make the catch only to miss it and have the ball roll to the wall for an RBI triple (Rendon's 1st) that made it 5-3 Nationals after five.
Rob Brantly's fly to right gave Stephen Strasburg nine straight outs going back to Brantly's one-out walk in the second. Ed Lucas' groundout to third made it ten in-a-row. Chris Coghlan's groundout to second made it eleven. Strasburg's 14-pitch fifth inning had him him to 73 pitches overall after five. Still 5-3 Nationals.
Adam LaRoche walked with two down in the top of the sixth, then stole his fourth base of the year before scoring on an RBI triple to center by Ian Desmond, who was a HR shy of the cycle after adding the triple in his fourth at bat. 6-3 Nats after five and a half.
Strasburg's streak of retired Marlins ended at 11 after a HBP on Donovan Solano in the first at bat of the Marlins' sixth inning. One out later, Justin Ruggiano singled to center on a first-pitch fastball. Logan Morrison lined to left in the next at bat, but Greg Dobbs connected for a two-out pinch hit single that drove in the HBP. 6-4 Nationals. Adeiny Hechavarria K'd swinging at a 2-2 curve to end the sixth after 21 pitches with Strasburg up to 94 pitches and 7 Ks.
Stephen Strasburg's Line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 7 Ks, 94 P, 55 S, 8/1 GO/FO.
After the Nationals went down in order in the top of the seventh, Drew Storen took over on mound. Chris Coghlan reached first on a two-out error by Ian Desmond and Donovan Solano singled to put two on. Christian Yelich stepped in as the potential go-ahead run, but went down swinging to end a 21-pitch inning by the Nats' right-handed reliever after which it was still 6-4 Nats.
Mike Dunn got the first out of the eighth after throwing a scoreless seventh, then Marlins' right-hander A.J. Ramos took over on the mound. Jayson Werth took a two-out walk from Ramos to bring Adam LaRoche up, but a fly to center field ended the top of the inning. Tyler Clippard took over in the bottom of the inning and gave up a leadoff single to left by Justin Ruggiano. After Logan Morrison popped out, Ruggiano moved up on a Juan Pierre groundout to second, but was stranded there when Adeiny Hechavarria K'd swinging to end the eighth.
Ian Desmond stepped in against side-winding right-hander Steve Cisek a home run shy of the cycle and grounded back to the mound on a 1-0 sinker. Wilson Ramos K'd chasing a 1-2 slider across the zone. Corey Brown K'd swinging. Cue his music: "Pitch it, Soriano! Pitch it, Soriano! Strike him out, Soriano! Strike him out, Soriano!" Rafael Soriano entered the game in the bottom of the ninth looking for his 39th save of 2013. Rob Brantly popped out to Corey Brown in left field. ONE! Ed Lucas K'd swinging through a 1-2 fastball. Chris Coghlan grounded out to second. Ballgame!
Work's done! Untuck that jersey, son!!
Nationals now 73-69