5. Strasburg vs the Phillies: Stephen Strasburg missed a start with an upper back issue, but returned to the mound last week against the New York Mets in the nation's capital, striking out 13 in 7 ⅓ innings before he left the game after giving up a game-tying home run and a one-out single in what ended up a 5-3 loss to the division leaders.
Strasburg gave up two earned runs when he was on the mound and was charged with another run when the runner he left on scored on a home run off Drew Storen.
In nine starts since he returned from his first DL stint of the season, the 27-year-old right-hander has put up a 2.38 ERA, eight walks (1.36 BB/9), 66 Ks (11.21 K/9) and a .183/.216/.340 line against in 53 IP.
His outing against the Mets impressed the opposing manager, Terry Collins, who told reporters it was the best stuff he's seen from the '09 no.1 overall pick.
"I've seen him where he's been 98, but that curveball tonight, we didn't put it in play I don't think," Collins said.
"He was really, really good and I know he's had some time off and maybe the rest helped him, but there were very few positive vibes going through early in the game.
"He was on and we knew it and we were just hoping that maybe we could work some counts and get him out of there, because he was tough to hit."
Strasburg was facing the Nationals' divisional rivals from Philadelphia for the fourth time this season after going (2-1) with a 4.00 ERA, four walks (2.00 BB/9), 19 Ks (9.50 K/9) and a .222/.263/.375 line against in 18 IP in the previous three outings.
His second start of the year against the Phillies in Citizens Bank Park began with a scoreless, 17-pitch first in which he worked around a one-out walk, striking out two.
A 12-pitch, 1-2-3 second left Strasburg at 29 pitches total after two. A nine-pitch, 1-2-3 third ended with a 2-2 change to Phillies' left fielder Darnell Sweeney, who K'd looking for Strasburg's 4th strikeout on his 38th pitch.
Strasburg threw a 96 mph 1-2 fastball by Andres Blanco up high for out no.3 of a 13-pitch, 1-2-3 fourth. 51 pitches, 6 Ks.
Cody Asche singled to right to start the fifth with the Phillies' first hit, but back-to-back-to-back Ks followed (nos. 7-8-9) as he stranded the second runner he let on at the end of an 18-pitch fifth. 69 total.
A 16-pitch, 1-2-3 sixth ended with Strasburg's 10th K. 85 total.
And that's 10! This is @Stras37's 19th career 10-plus K game, his third this season, and he's done it in back-to-back starts (13 vs. NYM).— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) September 16, 2015
Strasburg threw 0-2 fastballs by Odubel Herrera and Andres Blanco for his 11th and 12th Ks and got Cody Asche swinging with a 1-2 change for his 13th strikeout. 10-pitch frame, 95 total.
Brian Bogusevic went down swinging at a 1-2 changeup for the second out of the eighth and Strasburg's 14th K, and Carlos Ruiz grounded out to end the Nats' starter's eighth scoreless. Twelve straight outs. 10-pitch frame, 105 total.
Stephen Strasburg induced 30 swings & misses. Only Clayton Kershaw (35) and Johan Santana (32) had more in a game in the last 10 seasons.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 16, 2015
• Stephen Strasburg's Line: 8.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 14 Ks, 105 P, 77 S, 7/2 GO/FO.
4. Buchanan in CBP: Phillies' right-hander David Buchanan dropped five straight games, including one against the Washington Nationals, in April, going (0-5) with an 8.76 ERA, a 5.29 FIP 15 walks (5.47 BB/9) and 12 Ks (4.38 K/9) in 24 ⅔ IP, over which opposing hitters put up a combined .323/.422/.495 line against Philaelphia's 2010 7th Round pick.
Buchanan and the Phillies beat the Atlanta Braves in his next outing after that, but he lost three straight outings before tonight.
In the back-to-back-to-back losses to the LA Dodgers, Arizona D-Backs and Braves the 26-year-old starter gave up 31 hits and 22 runs, all earned in just nine innings, over which opposing hitters put up a combined .574/.623/.963 line against him. Right-handed hitters have gone 19 for 24 against Buchanan over that stretch (.792 AVG).
Heading into tonight's outing, Buchanan was (2-8) on the year with a 9.11 ERA, a 5.69 FIP, 24 walks (4.13 BB/9) and 26 Ks (4.47 K/9) in 52 ⅓ innings pitched.
Buchanan's second start of the year against the Nationals began with two quick outs, but two pitches after he threw a fastball behind Bryce Harper's legs, the Washington's NL MVP candidate hit his 38th home run of the 2015 campaign out to center field, 409ft+ for a two-out blast that made it 1-0 Washington. 17-pitch frame.
Wilson Ramos and Michael Taylor hit back-to-back, two-out singles in the Nationals' second, with the catcher going to third on Taylor's hit, but Stephen Strasburg K'd looking to strand them both at the end of a 15-pitch inning. 32 total after two.
Yunel Escobar hit a one-out double into the right-center gap in the Nationals' third, and scored on a single to center by Bryce Harper, 2-0 after two and a half. 15-pitch third, 47 total.
Buchanan retired the Nationals in order in a quick, six-pitch fourth that left him at 53 pitches. A 10-pitch, 1-2-3 fifth gave the right-hander seven straight outs. 63 pitches total, still 2-0 Nats.
Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth took back-to-back, one-out walks in the top of the sixth, but Clint Robinson grounded into an inning-ending 6-3 DP. 11-pitch frame, 74 total.
• David Buchanan's Line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 Ks, 1 HR, 74 P, 46 S, 6/2 GO/FO.
3. Random Game Notes: Bryce Harper's home run off Phillies' starter Aaron Nola was the 92nd home run of his major league career, but the first he's hit off a pitcher that is younger than he is.
• The Nationals and Phillies combined for 30 strikeouts total in last night's 11-inning game, 15 each, and used 16 pitches total, eight each.
• Tonight's game in Citizens Bank Park is the 100th contest between the NL East rivals, with the Phillies holding a 61-38 advantage over the Nationals through the first 99 games.
• The Nationals are 9-5 against the Phillies overall this season, and 4-3 in CBP.
• Washington improved to 7-2 in extra innings games with last night's win, and their road record improved to 32-41.
• Jayson Werth enters tonight's matchup with a 23-game on-base streak going, over which he's 28 for 94 (.298 AVG), with seven doubles, six home runs and 14 walks.
• Bryce Harper entered tonight's game ranked first in the NL in AVG (.333), OBP (.464), SLG (.652), runs scored (106) and Wins Above Replacement (8.7 fWAR). He's also second in walks (111) and tied for second in home runs (37).
• Harper is just the second player in Nationals' history (2005-present) with at least 100 runs scored and 100 walks in a season, joining Nick Johnson as the only two players on that list.
2. Turning Point(s): Phillies' righty David Buchanan threw a 91 mph fastball behind Bryce Harper's legs on his first pitch to Washington's 22-year-old slugger. That just made Harper angry. Two pitches later, the 2010 no.1 overall pick got hold of a 2-0 two-seamer and hit it over the center field wall in Citizens Bank Park for a two-out solo blast that put the Nationals up 1-0 early in the second game of three in CBP.
• Harper drove in a run in his second at bat, singling to center with Yunel Escobar on second. 2-0 Nationals.
1. The Wrap-Up: Luis Garcia took over on the mound for the Phillies in the seventh and worked around an error, a two-out walk to the opposing pitcher and a wild pitch with two on and two out for a scoreless frame.
Bryce Harper hit his second home run of the night out the other way on a 1-1 fastball from Adam Loewen, who walked Yunel Escobar in the at bat before Harper stepped in, 4-0.
Blake Treinen took the mound in the ninth after a scoreless after Strasburg struck out 14 in 8.0 scoreless frames and retired the Phillies in order. Ballgame.
Nationals now 74-70