Washington Nationals' starter Stephen Strasburg took the mound back on August 8th in Atlanta, Georgia's Turner Field and surrendered seven hits, four of them home runs and seven runs total in five innings of work in which he threw 89 pitches.
Justin Upton hit an 0-1 fastball to center field for a two-run blast in the first. B.J. Upton hit a 1-1 curve out to left field in the second for another two-run blast and Freddie Freeman followed with a two-run home run on 95 mph 2-1 fastball.
In the fifth, Braves' second baseman Tommy La Stella took a 95 mph 2-1 fastball up inside to right for his first major league homer and a 7-0 lead.
The Nats rallied to get within one, but eventually dropped a 7-6 decision when the hole Strasburg's struggles against the Braves put them in proved too much to overcome.
Nationals' manager Matt Williams said there was no easy explanation for Strasburg's struggles.
"He got ahead of Justin with a curveball," Williams explained, "and then tried to go down and away with a fastball and left it middle of the plate. And then B.J. hit a curveball that was not where he wanted it to be. And then Freddie, on his homer, the ball was just up in the strike zone."
"You can't put a finger on anything other than they put a good swing on it," Williams continued.
"Like I said, he got ahead of Justin and he got ahead of B.J. and they put good swings on the baseball. Certainly they're not where he wants them to be, those pitches, but it's not easy to hit a ball out of the ballpark either. So, just keep fighting them."
"I just didn't execute pitches the way I needed to," Strasburg stated succinctly.
"Felt pretty good, just the ball's up," he said. "Just not executing pitches. That's the bottom line. Feels good out of the hand, just not hitting the spots well enough."
The outing, Strasburg's only start in Turner Field this season, left him (1-3) in seven career starts in the Braves' home, over which he's put up a 6.99 ERA, 18 walks (5.72 BB/9) and 37 Ks (11.75 K/9) in 28 ⅓ IP, with Atlanta's hitters putting up a .295/.397/.543 line against him with five doubles and seven home runs off the '09 no.1 overall pick when he's come to town.
So is it something with the mound?
"Just another mound," Strasburg said. "I don't know. They put good swings on mistake pitches."
In his last start before returning to Turner Field tonight, Strasburg held the Braves to seven hits and three runs in six innings of work in an 6-2 loss to Atlanta during the last homestand in the nation's capital, leaving him (3-7) with a 4.61 ERA and a .274/.334/.427 line against in 80 IP against the Nationals' NL East rivals.
Can Strasburg earn his first win in Atlanta since May 26, 2012 tonight?