5. Strasburg Goes Fishing: In his first two innings on the mound last week in Flushing, Queens, New York's Citi Field, Stephen Strasburg threw a total of 52 pitches, giving up four hits, a walk and two earned runs.
He told reporters after the game that he felt the Mets' hitters were on to what he and catcher Wilson Ramos were doing early in the game.
As Strasburg put it, "... he felt the Mets hitters were 'on the same page as me,'" and he was "'[m]aybe too predictable.'"
After a mound visit from pitching coach Steve McCatty and a discussion in the dugout, whatever changes they made seemed to work.
Strasburg threw just 48 pitches over the next four innings, holding the Mets hitless until the sixth when he was lifted for a reliever after back-to-back singles and a fly to deep right field.
Nats' skipper Matt Williams said it was just a case of Strasburg getting a handle on his command.
"He throws the ball in the mid-90s," Williams told reporters, "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."
"You look up and he had 50 pitches in two innings," Mets' skipper Terry Collins said.
"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."
That outing left Strasburg with a (2-2) record on the year, a 4.60 ERA, 2.55 FIP, eight walks (2.45 BB/0) and 30 Ks (9.20 K/9) after 29 ⅓ IP.
Tonight in the nation's capital he was taking on the Miami Marlins for the second time this season after allowing eight hits, two walks and four earned runs in six innings when he faced them in Florida back on April 25th.
Williams said he didn't have a feel for his curve or change in that outing, though his he had a really good feel for his fastball which he dialed up to 95-96 mph.
Washington Nationals (@Nationals) May 5, 2015
In the first inning of his second start against the Marlins in three outings, Strasburg gave up a well-struck, two-out line drive single to left on a 96 mph 1-0 fastball to Giancarlo Stanton, (who improved to 13 for 31 career vs Strasburg) and a walk to Marcell Ozuna when he missed with a 3-1 fastball on the low outside corner, but first baseman Justin Bour stepped in next with two on and two out and grounded weakly to second to end a 21-pitch frame.
Michael Taylor waited for a ricochet off the section of stands that shoot out into foul territory in left on a hard-hit grounder by third off J.T. Realmuto's bat, but it never did hit the wall, so the Marlins' catcher made it to third with a leadoff "triple" while Taylor recovered it from the corner.
[ed. note - "MASN's cameras caught Strasburg grimacing after delivering one pitch in the first."]
Ichiro Suzuki fell behind 0-2, but sent a 1-2 curve through the left side for an RBI single and a 1-0 lead. Strasburg hit Adeiny Hechavarria with a two-strike fastball to put two on in front of Mat Latos, and threw a one-hopper to first on the sac bunt by the opposing pitcher that Dan Uggla couldn't handle. Ichiro scored from third on the E:1, and the Marlins took a 2-0 lead. Dee Gordon sent a weak fly to center for the first out of the frame. Martin Prado sent a fly to left for out no.2. Giancarlo Stanton came up with two on and two out and popped out on a 96 mph 1-2 fastball. 27-pitch frame, 48 total after two.
[ed. note - "Matt Williams and Nats' trainer Lee Kuntz visited Strasburg on the mound in the second when he was grimacing and looked uncomfortable again."]
Marcell Ozuna took a 95 mph 2-2 fastball for a called strike three. Justin Bour walked on four pitches in the next at bat. J.T. Realmuto lined out to right on an 0-1 heater. Dan Uggla dove for a grounder to second by Ichiro, but didn't get it. Adeiny Hechavarria came up with two on and two out and sent a fly to left-center that Michael Taylor tracked down. 16-pitch frame, 64 total after three.
Doug Fister pinch hit for Strasburg in the bottom of the third...
• Strasburg's line: 3.0 IP, 3.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 Ks, 64 P, 37 S, 3/2 GO/FO.
4. Latos again: Miami Marlins' starter Mat Latos held the Nationals to two runs on six hits in 6 ⅓ IP when he faced Washington at home in Florida back on April 24th in a 3-2 win in which he received no decision.
"Latos threw great," Fish skipper Mike Redmond told reporters after the outing.
"It was good to see how get out there and be able to pitch deep into the game, and he just ran out of gas there, but A.J. [Ramos] came in and picked up."
Latos gave up three hits and one run in the first five innings, but three hits, a walks and a run in the final inning and a third before he was lifted.
"Mixed the ball in and out and got some early fly balls," Redmond continued. "He looked good. He really kept them in check the whole time."
It was the third straight outing in which Latos limited the opposition to two earned runs after a disastrous start in his 2015 debut which saw him give up six hits and seven runs before he was lifted after recording just two outs.
In the one start he made before facing the Nationals again tonight in Washington, D.C., Latos gave up five hits, two walks and three earned runs in five innings at home against the New York Mets.
That outing left the 27-year-old right-hander with a 6.86 ERA, a 4.04 FIP, nine walks (3.86 BB/9) and 17 Ks (7.29 K/9) in 21 IP this season, over which opposing hitters have a .326/.385/.512 line.
He does, however, have a 3.98 ERA and a .278/.333/.443 line against if you take the first start out of the mix.
Tonight in Nationals Park, Latos got off to a good start with a seven-pitch, 1-2-3 first.
Ryan Zimmerman worked an 11-pitch walk out of Latos in the first at bat of the Nats' second, then took third on a double to right by Wilson Ramos. Ian Desmond stepped in with two on and no one out, but K'd looking at a 1-2 fastball inside. Dan Uggla worked the count full and hit a broken-bat dribbler toward short the drove in a run. 2-1. Michael Taylor K'd looking at a 2-2 change to end a 28-pitch second that left Latos at 35 total.
Doug Fister pinch hit for Stephen Strasburg and lined a single to right to start the Nats' third, but he was doubled up on a grounder to second by Denard Span and Yunel Escobar grounded out to third to end another quick frame by Latos, who was up to 41 pitches after a six-pitch frame.
Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman both K'd swinging in the first two at bats of the Nats' fourth and Wilson Ramos grounded out to short to end the home-half of the frame after 10 pitches by Latos, who was up to 51.
Two ground ball outs from Ian Desmond and Dan Uggla started the Nats' fifth, but Michael Taylor slowed Latos' roll with a two-out walk. Sammy Solis sent the third groundout of the inning to second, however, and Latos was through five on 67 pitches after a 16-pitch frame.
Yunel Escobar took a one-out walk from Latos in the bottom of the sixth, but two outs later he was stranded on the basepaths at the end of a 19-pitch inning by the Marlins' starter. 86 pitches total.
Latos came back out for another inning of work in the seventh and gave up a leadoff walk to Wilson Ramos, but he caught Ian Desmond looking with a 1-2 fastball inside, way inside. Dan Uggla took a two-out walk, Latos' fifth. And that was it for the Marlins' starter...
• Mat Latos' Line: 6.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 5 BB, 6 Ks, 102 P, 60 S, 10/1 GO/FO.
3. Momentum?: Matt Williams was asked after the Washington Nationals' 6-4 comeback win last night in Nationals Park, if that sort of win could provide the Nats with momentum going forward? He said, "No."
"There's so many games. I think there's momentum within a game itself, but once one is over, you've got to start all over again the next day. But I think we got momentum in that last inning and that carried over a little bit with Desi's swing."
"Desi" or Ian Desmond's swing, on a first-pitch cutter from Marlins' right-hander Bryan Morris resulted in a game-tying two-run home run that landed on the batter's eye grass to the right of the Red Porch season in Nationals Park.
The home run was Desmond's second of the year and his first in 71 at bats going back to April 15th in Boston.
While he struggled through an 0 for 29 streak at the plate in recent weeks, he snapped that over the weekend in New York and is 5 for 11 in the last three games. He's also limited the errors, with just one in the last 131 innings after he committed a total of eight in the 106 innings this season.
Williams talked after last night's game about Desmond remaining mentally strong in spite of his struggles.
"He always is mentally strong," Williams told reporters. "He's ready to play every single day. And he has and he will continue to play for us. He knows that he's one swing away from getting hot. He knows that he's a vital part of our team. He has many talents on the baseball field and can help us win a lot of games in a lot of different ways.
Tonight he made a couple of nice defensive plays. One running play on Dee [Gordon]. One in the hole. And of course the two-run homer. That's the special talent that he's got."
Could Desmond stretch his current hitting streak to four straight games? HIs first at bat of the night came with two on and no one out in the Nats' second, but he took a 1-2 fastball inside for a called strike three. 0 for 1.
Desmond led off the Nats' fifth with a chopper to third that Martin Prado handled, 0 for 2.
Wilson Ramos walked in front of Desmond in the Nationals' seventh, and took a 1-2 ball inside for a called strike three. 0 for 3.
2. Turning Point(s): Michael Taylor misread a grounder by third in the Marlins' second, and Stephen Strasburg bounced a throw to first on a sac bunt by the opposing pitcher. One was a mistake, the other an error, but they both led to runs and put the Nationals in a 2-0 hole early in the second game of three with Miami in D.C.
The Nationals cut the Marlins' lead in half in the bottom of the second. Ryan Zimmerman worked an 11-pitch walk out of Mat Latos, took third on a double to right by Wilson Ramos and scored on a groundout to third by Dan Uggla to make it 2-1 after two. Of course, the Nationals got just one run out of a 2nd/3rd, 0 out start, so not sure which way this turning point is... pointing...
Through seven it looked like it was pointin in the Marlins' favor after Latos shut the Nationals down and held them off the board into the seventh...
1. The Wrap-Up: Sammy Solis worked around a two-out single by Martin Prado (and a long fly ball that went foul off Stanton's bat) for a scoreless 17-pitch top of the fourth. He came back out for the fifth and retired the side in order in an 11-pitch frame. A 16-pitch, 1-2-3 sixth left Solis at 44 pitches.
With the score still 2-1 after six, Blake Treinen came on in relief for the Nationals and got one pitch with one out on a 99 mph fastball to Dee Gordon. After 98 and 99 mph fastballs to Martin Prado, Treinen dropped an 86 mph slider on the Fish third baseman to get a backwards K. Treinen walked Giancarlo Stanton on four pitches, and a stolen base and wild pitch with Marcell Ozuna up moved Stanton around to third. Ozuna worked the count full and sent a fly ball to the right field corner for the third out of the Marlins' seventh.
Marlins' righty Nick Masset inherited a two on, one-out jam from Latos in the Nats' seventh, with Michael Taylor due up, Wilson Ramos on second and Dan Uggla on first after leadoff and one-out walks, respectively.
Taylor grounded into a force at third, but beat the throw to first that Justin Bour dropped anyway. Clint Robinson got a pinch hit appearance and sent a sharp grounder to second that Dee Gordon dove on before throwing to first for out no.3. Still 2-1 Miami.
Matt Thornton threw a scoreless 15-pitch, 1-2-3 eighth.
Mike Dunn took over on the hill for Miami and issued a leadoff walk to Denard Span. Dunn stayed on to face Yunel Escobar with Bryce Harper looming in the on-deck circle, and struck him out with a high 0-2 heater. Bryce Harper came on in the lefty vs lefty matchup and popped out to second on a 1-2 slider.
Marlins' skipper Mike Redmond went to the pen for A.J. Ramos vs Ryan Zimmerman with Span still on first, and got a foul pop behind home for out no.3.
Aaron Barrett gave up a two-out triple to center by Dee Gordon and hit Martin Prado to put two on for Giancarlo Stanton, who K'd swinging over an 0-2 slider.
Steve Cisek came on for the save opportunity and gave up a bloop single to right by Wilson Ramos. Danny Espinosa came on to run at first, and hustled into second on a grounder to Dee Gordon, arriving safely when Adeiny Hechavarria dropped the throw to second. Dan Uggla bunted into a force at third for out no.1.
Michael Taylor stepped up with one down and K'd chasing a 1-2 slider outside. Tyler Moore came up next and K'd swinging at another slider outside. Ballgame. 2-1 Marlins.
Nationals now 13-15