Stephen Strasburg battled an illness in the days leading up to his last start, a 7 ⅔-inning outing against the Atlanta Braves last week in Washington.
Strasburg's ability to take the mound was up in the air until a few hours before that game, but he did end up pitching and the 27-year-old right-hander battled through early command issues to put together a solid start.
He struck out seven and gave up four hits, two walks and two earned runs, earning his second win in two starts this season.
"He was on guts, big time," Dusty Baker told reporters after the game. "That was a gutsy performance. Because it didn't look like he had it."
Strasburg's fastball command wasn't there early, but he settled in, sweated out whatever was bothering him, and was able to finish strong.
He was asked afterwards what changed after the first few innings.
"I think it's just trying to be aggressive early in the count with all my pitches," he said, "and just keeping the count in my favor and not falling behind."
Tonight in Miami, Strasburg was facing a Marlins team he was (1-2) against last season, with a 4.95 ERA, five walks (2.25 BB/9) 21 Ks (9.45 K/9) and a .309/.356/.481 line against in four starts and 20 IP.
It was a pitchers' duel in Marlins Park, with Strasburg and Marlins' lefty Adam Conley battling through six scoreless in which they each struck out eight on 83 pitches by Strasburg and 82 by Conley.
With one out in the seventh, however, Jayson Werth took Conley deep to left field on a 92 mph 3-2 fastball for his second home run of the season and the 200th home run of his major league career.
Wilson Ramos followed with another blast to left in the next at bat as the Nationals jumped out to a 2-0 lead. A single by Stephen Strasburg and double by Michael Taylor followed, knocking Conley out of the game.
Nick Witgren, a righty making his MLB debut, walked Anthony Rendon to bring Bryce harper up with the bases loaded, so Marlins' skipper Don Mattingly went to the pen for left-hander Chris Narveson, who left a 2-1 pitch up in the zone that Harper absolutely crushed. Grand Slam! 6-0 Nationals.
Ryan Zimmerman followed with the fourth home run of the inning and the second back-to-back blast. 7-0 Nationals after six and a half. #TKCHZ
Given a big lead to work with, Strasburg came back out with a 10-pitch, 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh that left him at 93 pitches overall after seven scoreless. A 12-pitch, 1-2-3 eight left him at 105 pitches. That was it for Strasburg.
Stephen Strasburg's Line: 8.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 10 Ks, 105 P, 75 S, 8/3 GO/FO.
Shawn Kelley closed things out for the Nationals in the bottom of the ninth. Ballgame. 7-0 Nationals.
Nationals now 10-3
- Daniel Murphy was 1 for 4 in the series opener in Miami, extending his current hit streak to ten straight games. He has hits in 11 of the last 12 and has reached base safely in 24 of 48 plate appearances early this season. He extended his hit streak to 11 games with a double in his first at bat.
- Bryce Harper's streak of consecutive games with home runs ended at four last night, but he matched the franchise mark (2005-present), joining Adam LaRoche (2012), Michael Morse (2011) and Ryan Zimmerman (2009) as the only Nationals with home runs in four straight games. Harper hit his second career grand slam in the seventh.
- Michael A. Taylor was 2 for 4 with a double and a walk in last night's series opener, and had reached base safely in six of the last eight games before tonight. He also has multi-hit games in his last seven starts. He doubled in the seventh inning tonight.
- Jayson Werth was still sitting on 199 home runs as play began tonight. When he hit No. 200, on a solo shot off Adam Conley in the 7th, he joined Alfonso Soriano, Adam LaRoche and Ryan Zimmerman on the list of Nationals to hit their 200th career home runs with the Nats.
- In today's Nationals-themed Fun with Arbitrary End Points segment, the Nats are 47-31 against the Miami Marlins since 2012, when they ditched the "Florida" in their name.
- In 23 career starts against the Marlins before tonight, 2009 no.1 overall pick Stephen Strasburg was (10-7) with a 3.69 ERA.
- In today's Strasburg-themed Fun with Arbitrary End Points segment, the 27-year-old starter is (8-2) with a 1.91 ERA in his last 12 starts, going bck to August 8, 2015.
- The Marlins' win last night was their first in six home games so far in 2016.
- Giancarlo Stanton's home run off Tanner Roark last night was his 25th in 74 career games against the Nationals, and the Marlins are 9-1 against the Nationals when he homers off them in Marlins Park.
- In today's Marlins-themed Fun with Arbitrary End Points segment, Dee Gordon leads National League season base in total hits since 2014, with 397 total. Daniel Murphy is fourth on that list, with 329 hits since 2014, behind Jose Altuve, who leads all major league second baseman (441), Ian Kinsler (390) and Robinson Cano (377).
- The Nationals' four-home run seventh was the first four-homer inning in franchise history (2005-present).
Nationals now 10-3