5. Strasburg vs the Phillies: Stephen Strasburg matched his career-high in strikeouts against an overmatched Philadelphia Phillies' lineup last week in Citizens Bank Park, striking out 14 total in eight scoreless in which he allowed just one hit and one walk.
In his next start after that outing, the Washington Nationals' 27-year-old right-hander rung up another 10 Ks, giving him 37 total in three starts this month (14.91 K/9), over which he's put up a 1.61 ERA, and a 1.98 FIP, walking three batters (1.21 BB/9) and holding opposing hitters to a combined .152/.183/.266 line in 22 ⅓ innings.
After his win over the Phillies, Strasburg was asked about having all of his pitches working like he did that night and how he felt on the mound?
"I don't really worry about what the stuff is doing," Strasburg said. "I just want to go out there and compete, and it worked for me tonight, that's great, but all I really was trying to do was go out there and leave it all out there on the field."
Nats' skipper Matt Williams was effusive in his praise of what the '09 no.1 overall pick accomplished in the win over the Nationals' divisional rivals.
"Really good tonight," Williams told reporters. "I think that the biggest thing is he established low fastball, didn't use his changeup until about the fourth inning, but when he establishes low fastball he gets a lot of swings and misses on the changeup too. And then innings four-through-eight, used the changeup a lot and got a lot of guys to swing and miss at it. He was really good."
That outing was Strasburg's fourth against the Phillies this season, over which he's gone (3-1) with a 2.77 ERA, five walks (1.73 BB/9) and 33 Ks (11.42 K/9) in 26 innings, over which he's held Philly hitters to a .175/.216/.289 line.
His fifth start of the year against Philadelphia took place in Nationals Park this afternoon, where Strasburg was (5-4) on the year before taking the mound with a 3.34 ERA, a 3.32 FIP, 14 walks (2.12 BB/9) and 71 Ks (10.77 K/9) in 59 ⅓ IP over which he'd held visiting hitters to a combined .228/.282/.384 line.
Strasburg's outing began with a quick, 13-pitch, 1-2-3 first.
Phillies' outfielder Brian Bogusevic took an 83 mph curve for a called strike three and out no.3 of a 15-pitch, 1-2-3 second that left Strasburg at 28 total after two.
Strasburg was up to nine straight outs to start the game after he set the Phillies down in order, striking out two, in a 12-pitch third that left him at 40 pitches.
Strasburg struck out two in an 11-pitch, 1-2-3 fourth that gave him 12-straight outs to start the game. 51 pitches, 5 Ks.
Darin Ruf singled to left to start the fifth, but was doubled up on a 3-6-3 DP off Andres Blanco's bat. Brian Bogusevic K'd swinging at a 2-2 change to end an eight-pitch frame that left Strasburg at 59 pitches total after five.
Strasburg struck out the side on 13 pitches in the sixth, leaving him with 9 Ks on 72 pitches.
With the score 1-0 Nats after six, Strasburg started the seventh with his 10th K, getting Freddy Galvis to chase a 1-2 slider out of the zone. A 1-2 fastball up high got Aaron Atlherr swinging for Strasburg's sixth straight K and his 11th overall. Cody Asche stepped in next popped up to center on an 0-2 fastball. 12-pitch frame. 84 total.
Darin Ruf connected for the Phillies' second hit, lining a single to left to start the eighth, and he moved up on a grounder to first by Andres Blanco before scoring on a one-out double to left-center by Brian Bogusevic. 1-1.
Cameron Rupp worked the count full with a runner on second and one out and walked. Darnell Sweeney K'd swinging at a curve in the dirt that got away from Wilson Ramos, allowing both runners to advance. 12 Ks.
Jeff Francoeur stepped in against Strasburg with two on and two out and went down swinging at a 1-2 curve. 13 Ks. 17-pitch frame, 101 total.
• Stephen Strasburg's Line: 8.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 13 Ks, 101 P, 73 S, 4/2 GO/FO.
4. Nola in the nation's capital: Aaron Nola, 22, gave up nine hits, three of them home runs, a walk and six runs total in five innings when he faced the Washington Nationals last week in Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park, earning no decision in what ended up an 8-7 loss to the Phillies' NL East rivals from the nation's capital.
It was the 2014 Phillies' first-round pick's 11th major league start since he made his MLB debut on July 21st.
He followed that outing up with a seven-inning start against the Braves in Atlanta's Turner Field in which he gave up just five hits, three walks and one earned run in a 2-1 Phillies' loss in which he once again received no decision.
That outing left the Baton Rouge, Louisiana-born, LSU-educated right-hander (6-2) in 12 starts in the Phillies' rotation with a 3.84 ERA, a 4.25 FIP, 19 walks (2.35 BB/9), 63 Ks (7.80 K/9) and a .246/.300/.411 line in 72 ⅔ innings pitched.
Nola started started the 2015 campaign as the top-ranked pitcher in the Phillies' system on Baseball America's list of Philadelphia's Top 10 prospects.
He was called up after twelve starts at Double-A Reading over which he was (7-3) with a 1.88 ERA, a 2.88 FIP, nine walks (1.06 BB/9) and 59 Ks (6.93 K/9) in 76 ⅔ innings, and ten starts at Triple-A Lehigh Valley in which he went (3-1) with a 3.58 ERA, a 3.16 FIP, nine walks (2.48 BB/9) and 33 Ks (9.09 K/9) in 32 ⅔ IP.
His thirteenth major league start began with an 11-pitch, 1-2-3 first that ended when Bryce Harper took an 0-2 fastball for a called strike three.
Nola retired the Nationals in order in the second as well, striking out Jayson Werth and Ian Desmond around a Clint Robinson groundout in a 14-pitch frame. 25 total, 3 Ks.
Matt den Dekker singled to start the Nationals' third, but he was forced out at second base one out later when Stephen Strasburg bunted it too hard back to the mound.
Anthony Rendon singled to left to put two on with two out, but Yunel Escobar lined out to left to end Nola's third scoreless inning after 13 pitches. 38 total after three.
Bryce Harper sent an opposite field single to left in the first at bat of the Nationals' fourth. Jayson Werth took an 0-2 curve through the left side as well. Clint Robinson connected for third straight hit, lining another single to left.
Ian Desmond stepped in with the bases loaded and took a 2-2 fastball for a called strike three. Matt den Dekker lined out to second. Wilson Ramos grounded out to leave'em loaded at the end of a 17-pitch frame. 55 total.
Stephen Strasburg singled and took second on an error in the first at bat of the bottom of the fifth, but he was tagged out at third trying to advance on an Anthony Rendon grounder to second.
Yunel Escobar stepped in next and grounded into an inning-ending 6-4-3. Nola's 12-pitch fifth left him at 67 total.
• Aaron Nola's Line: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 Ks, 69 P, 48 S, 6/1 GO/FO.
3. Random Game Notes: Phillies' outfielder Aaron Altherr's inside-the-park grand slam last night was the first by a Philadelphia player since August 8, 1956 when Ted Kazanski hit one against the NY Giants at the Polo Grounds.
• Phillies' starters have a 1.76 ERA on the current road trip, with 2 ER or less in each of the seven games, over which Philadelphia is 2-5.
• The Phillies are 25-54 on the year this season away from Citizens Bank Park, and they're trying to avoid losing more than 54 games on the road for he first time since 1942.
• Philadelphia is 13-23 in their last 36 games in Nationals Park, going back to 2012.
• Aaron Nola's curve is a big weapon. Opposing hitters have just a .182 AVG against the pitch the pitch this season.
• Nola's (3-0) with a 2.93 ERA in four daytime starts this season.
• In today's Stephen Strasburg-themed "Fun with Arbitrary End Points" update: Strasburg is ranks first among NL pitchers in K/BB ratio (12.00), K/9 (12.38) and WHIP (0.75), second in BAA (.176) and third in strikeouts (72) since August 8th.
• Bryce Harper took the field today ranked first in the NL in AVG (.336), OBP (.468), SLG (.660), runs scored (116), home runs (41) and Wins Above Replacement (9.6 fWAR).
2. Turning Point(s): The Nationals loaded the bases with no one out in the fourth and somehow came up empty against Phillies' righty Aaron Nola, but Philly lefty Adam Loewen gifted the Nationals a runner on third with no outs in the sixth, walking Bryce Harper and throwing two wild pitches to Jayson Werth to send Harper around to third before he scored on a one-out grounder to third by Ian Desmond. 1-0 Nationals after six.
• Stephen Strasburg started his outing with seven scoreless inning in which he struck out 11 and allowed just one hit, but after a leadoff single by Darin Ruf and a one-out double by Brian Bogusevic in the eighth it was all tied up at 1-1 in the nation's capital.
• [ed. note - "Check below for the exciting conclusion."]
1. The Wrap-Up: Bryce Harper walked to start the Nationals' half of the sixth, taking his 123rd free pass of the season from Philly lefty Adam Loewen. Harper's 123rd walk tied him for the franchise record (Ken Singleton, Montreal, 1973) and two wild pitches moved the Nats' 22-year-old slugger around to third. Jayson Werth took the second walk of the inning to put two on in front of Clint Robinson, who lined out to second.
The Phillies brought right-hander Jeanmar Gomez on to face Ian Desmond, who grounded out to third, allowing Harper to score. 1-0 Nats after six.
Congrats to @Bharper3407, who just tied Ken Singleton (1973 Expos) for the franchise record for walks in a season with 123!— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) September 26, 2015
Gomez came back out with a scoreless seventh inning to keep it a 1-0 game in the Nationals' favor.
Luis Garcia took over in a 1-1 game in the bottom of the eighth and gave up a one-out, opposite field double by Bryce Harper, who hit a sharp grounder by third.
Harper took third when Jayson Werth K'd swinging on a ball in the dirt that got by Cameron Rupp, so the Phillies walked to Clint Robinson to get to Ian Desmond with runners on the corners and two out. Desmond? Groundout.
Still 1-1 after eight.
Jonathan Papelbon came on in the ninth and got a grounder out of Freddy Galvis in the first at bat of the inning, but it bounced off Clint Robinson's glove. Aaron Altherr bunted him over to second/gave up an out. Cody Asche got the intentionals, bringing Darin Ruf up with two on and one out. Ruf popped out to third for out no.2. Freddy Galvis sent a grounder back to the mound. Still 1-1.
Hector Neris threw a clean ninth to send it to extra innings.
Felipe Rivero came on for the tenth and issued a one-out walk to Cameron Rupp. Erik Kratz grounded into a force at second for out no.2. Jeff Francoeur K'd swinging to end the frame.
Anthony Rendon walked to start the bottom of the tenth but was stranded there three outs later as Jerome Williams threw a scoreless tenth.
Blake Treinen gave up a one-out walk to Aaron Altherr, bringing up left-handed hitting Cody Asche, who K'd swinging with Altherr on the move. A strong throw to second got the Nationals an inning-ending strike-em out, throw'em out double play.
Ian Desmond reached first safely on a grounder up the middle with one down in the bottom of the eleventh, but he was stranded two outs later.
Treinen gave up a one-out single by (left-handed hitting) Andres Blanco before he was lifted in favor of Matt Thornton.
Brian Bogusevic singled to put two on with two out, but Thornton popped Odubel Herrera up to end the top of the 12th.
Colton Murray took over for the Phillies in the home-half of the twelfth, and gave up a one-out single by Anthony Rendon, who took second on a wild pitch to Yunel Escobar, who walked.
Bryce Harper stepped in with two on and one out and hit a walk-off double to right to end it. 2-1 Nationals.
Nationals now 79-75