It looked at the start like it might be a brief outing for Stephen Strasburg last night in New York's Citi Field.
Two innings in, the 26-year-old Washington Nationals' right-hander was up to 52 pitches and down 2-0 after he gave up back-to-back one-out doubles by Mets' shortstop Wilmer Flores and catcher Kevin Plawecki, respectively, and a two-out RBI single to right by Curtis Granderson.
Over the next three innings, however, as the Nats rallied to take a 5-2 lead, Strasburg settled in, with 11, 13 and 18-pitch innings before he gave up back-to-back singles in the bottom of the sixth.
Daniel Murphy sent a fly to right field for the first out of the frame, but with two on and Strasburg up to 100 pitches overall, Nats' skipper Matt Williams went to the bullpen for Aaron Barrett, who retired the two batters he faced and stranded both runners he inherited.
"Settled in nicely and was able to get to 100 and go out for that final inning," Williams said after the game when asked about Strasburg's outing.
"We had to go get him, but it's a nice job by him."
Strasburg earned the win in what ended up an 8-2 game, improving to (2-2) on the year with a 4.60 ERA, 2.61 FIP, eight walks (2.45 BB/9) and 30 Ks (9.20 K/9) in five starts and 29 ⅓ innings pitched.
Williams was asked if the abrupt change after the first two frames was simply a matter of Strasburg finding his command?
"That's the case with anybody," he said. "He throws the ball in the mid-90s, and if he can throw it where he wants to it's really difficult. If it's middle of the plate then the other team has an opportunity to hit it.
"I just thought he composed himself, he settled in nicely and got us through the innings he needed to get us through."
Strasburg told reporters, including MLB.com's Bill Ladson, that he was too predictable until he and catcher Wilson Ramos made some changes after the Mets' hitters were able to get a good read on him early.
"'I tried to get them off-balance. It seemed like they were on the same page as me, so [catcher Wilson Ramos] and I had to make an adjustment. Willie called a great game. The offense came through again.'"
Mets' skipper Terry Collins said it was also about pounding the strike zone after the first two innings.
"More strikes," Collins told reporters.
"You look up and he had 50 pitches in two innings and then he ends up going out there and really starts pounding the zone with his stuff. He's got plus stuff, so that was one of the biggest differences I saw.
He got ahead of us instead of we were getting ahead of him."