Last time out on the mound before this afternoon, Stephen Strasburg faced the Atlanta Braves, giving up five hits, one a home run by Freddie Freeman, and two runs total in four innings, over which he walked two and struck out four.
Strasburg said afterwards that he challenged Freeman with the pitch that went out and the Braves' first baseman got the best of that matchup.
"Sometimes you've got to tip your cap," Strasburg said.
"I felt like I executed some good pitches earlier in the at bat -- kind of a toss up, ball/strike, good take out of him-- and I didn't want to show him too much and he put a good swing on a heater away and in this ballpark it's probably going to get out."
The focus in that outing, Strasburg explained to reporters, was working on his changeup and building endurance as he prepares for the 2016 campaign.
"Just trying to evolve the pitch a little bit more," Strasburg said of the changeup.
"I'm throwing it in counts that I don't normally throw it in. I think if I can get better at throwing any pitch in any count, it's going to have some success. The biggest thing is throwing one for a strike and throwing one for expanding the zone."
Overall, Strasburg said, he was happy with the outing.
"I feel like I threw a lot of strikes," he said. "working on some things out there, able to get out of some jams."
In his fourth start of the Spring this afternoon, Strasburg took on the New York Yankees in Grapefruit League action in Viera, Florida's Space Coast Stadium.
Strasburg started things off with a fly to center for out no.1 and followed that with a backwards K, dropping a backdoor, 0-2 bender on an unsuspecting Aaron Hicks. Dustin Ackley got a cruel 0-2 change and went down swinging way out in front for K no.2 and out no.3 of a quick, eight-pitch, 1-2-3 first.
Strasburg left a 1-1 fastball up for Austin Romine, who lined a double to left-center in the first at bat of the second. An 0-2 curve got Chris Parmelee looking, backdoor bender again from Strasburg, and a 1-2 fastball got a weak fly to left out of Gary Sanchez. Rob Refsnyder fell behind 0-2, and took a fastball outside for a called strike three and K no.4. 13-pitch frame, 21 total.
Chris Denorfia lined a 94 mph first-pitch fastball to left for a leadoff single in the third, Ronald Torreyes followed with a single to center on a 1-0 heater and Brett Gardner lined a 94 mph 2-2 fastball to left for a base-loading single on pitch no.10 of the inning from Strasburg.
Aaron Hicks started up 2-0, but swung through three straight changeups. Strasburg got up 0-2 on Dustin Ackley and got a grounder to second for an inning-ending 6-3 DP. 18-pitch frame. 39 total.
Strasburg got Austin Romine looking with a 2-2 fastball outside for out no.1 of the fourth and K no.6, dropped a diving 1-2 change on Chris Parmelee, for out no.2 and K no.7 and popped Gary Sanchez up with a 2-0 change for a scoreless, 13-pitch frame. 52 total.
Rob Refsnyder lined a 1-1 pitch to right-center for leadoff single in the fifth. Chris Denorfia tried to check his swing on a 1-2 fastball inside, but failed to check it. K no.8. Ronald Torreyes fell behind 0-2 and K'd failing to check his swing on a breaking ball in the dirt. K no.8. Brett Gardner took a fastball up high to get ahead, 3-1, and sent a sharp grounder to first that Ryan Zimmerman knocked into foul territory, before tossing it to first between his legs. Aaron Hicks stepped in with two on and two out and sent a fly to short center to end an 18-pitch frame. 70 pitches.
• Stephen Strasburg's Line: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 9 Ks, 70 P, 1/4 GO/FO.
• Ben Revere and Anthony Rendon saw a total of nine pitches in the first two at bats of this afternoon's game with Revere singling to center and scoring, after a balk moved him up to second, when Anthony Rendon lined an RBI double to right field for an early 1-0 lead.
Revere improved to 11 for 30 with the single, Rendon improved to 4 for 26 with his second double.
• Ryan Zimmerman struck out on a 2-2 splitter with Anthony Rendon at third one out later, failing to bring in the run and Rendon was stranded when Jayson Werth grounded out to third. #RISPFAIL #DustyhatesKs
• Stephen Drew took Masahiro Tanaka deep for a solo blast in the first at bat of the Nats' third, sending his first home run of the Spring out to left field for his 8 hit in 24 at bats. 2-0 Nationals.
• Revere and Rendon hit back-to-back singles after Drew's home run and Bryce Harper took a free pass to load them up in front of Ryan Zimmerman, who grounded into a force at second, but brought in a run, 3-0.
• Jayson Werth lined a 1-2 pitch from Tanaka to left for an RBI single, 4-0, and Chris Heisey followed with an RBI single, though Werth got thrown out at home, 5-0! #SENDLEY!
• Wilson Ramos stepped in next and went all the way the other way for a two-run blast that made it 7-0 Nationals. The third HR of the Spring continued the living LASIK commercial that is Ramos' Spring. 7 for 19 this Spring, 3 HRs.
• Rendon doubled again (no.3 on the Spring) with two down in the bottom of the fourth. 3 for 3 tonight.
• Jonathan Papelbon came on to pitch in the sixth inning, and worked around a leadoff single for a scoreless frame.
• Yusmeiro Petit struck out Pete Kozma and was replaced on the mound by Sean Burnett, who gave up back-to-back singles, but stranded both runners.
• Matt den Dekker doubled with two down in the bottom of the seventh.
• After Matt Belisle worked a quick, scoreless top of the eighth inning, some sloppy defense led to five runs scoring in what ended up a 13-0 win after Oliver Perez threw a scoreless ninth.