In nineteen career starts against Atlanta before tonight, in his six major league seasons, Washington Nationals' starter Stephen Strasburg had a 3.77 ERA, 29 walks and 122 Ks in 98 innings, over which Braves' hitters put up a combined .266/.321/.398 line against the 27-year-old right-hander. He took the mound tonight in Turner Field with a streak of 18 scoreless innings going against the Nats' NL East rivals, which stretched back to a September 21, 2014 outing.
He held the Braves scoreless in two starts last season, with the '09 no.1 overall pick throwing five scoreless against Atlanta in the nation's capital and six scoreless in Turner Field in his final start of the year.
Strasburg's scoreless inning streak against Atlanta ended in the fourth, when he issued back-to-back, one-out walks to Nick Markakis and Hector Olivera before Markakis scored from second on an RBI single to center by A.J. Pierzynski.
Pierzynski was thrown out at second by Michael A. Taylor on the play. It was the second outfield assist of the inning by Taylor, but the Nationals trailed, 1-0, after four in Atlanta.
Braves' starter Bud Norris tossed six scoreless on 75 pitches, allowing just three hits, but the Nationals' fourth and fifth hits of the game resulted in a run.
Ryan Zimmerman singled to start the seventh, and scored two outs later on a roller up the middle off Wilson Ramos' bat, hustling around third on the grounder up the middle and beating Freddie Freeman's errant throw home, 1-1.
Matt den Dekker hit for Strasburg with two on and two out in the seventh, after an intentional walk to Danny Espinosa, and doubled to right-center field to drive in two runs and make it a 3-1 Nationals' lead.
• Stephen Strasburg's Line: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 4 Ks, 88 P, 57 S, 6/1 GO/FO.
Shawn Kelley and Felipe Rivero combined for a scoreless, 1-2-3 seventh. Rivero came back out for the eighth and retired the side in order. Still 3-1.
Jonathan Papelbon came on for his second save opportunity in two games and gave up back-to-back one-out singles by Adonis Garcia and Nick Markakis. Hector Olivera grounded into a force at second, but beat the relay throw to first.
Pinch runner Drew Stubbs stole second with A.J. Pierzynski at the plate, but both runners were stranded when the Braves' catcher went down swinging at a 2-2 fastball up high. Ballgame. 3-1 final.
Nationals now 2-0
• Freddie Freeman, who went 1 for 3 with a home run in the series opener in Atlanta on Monday, improved to 104 for 308 (.338/.397/.523) with 25 doubles and 10 HRs against the Nationals in his major league career.
Against tonight's starter, Stephen Strasburg, he was 12 for 28 (.429/.500/.821) with two doubles, three home runs, six walks and seven Ks before stepping in for the first time.
"He's a good hitter. Sometimes you've got to tip your cap," Strasburg told reporters after Freeman homered off the right-hander this Spring.
Tonight in Atlanta, the bases were empty when Freeman came up in the bottom of the first. He went down swinging over a 91 mph 0-2 change in the dirt. 12 for 29.
Erick Aybar singled to center with two down in the third, bringing Freeman up with a runner on, but he grounded into the shift. 0 for 2 tonight, 12 for 30 overall vs Strasburg.
At bat no.3 for Freeman vs Strasburg came with a runner on and two out in the fifth, with the Braves up, 1-0. But Ender Inciarte got thrown out trying to steal second on an 0-2 fastball low in the zone...
Ryan Zimmerman made a leaping grab at first to rob Freeman of a bloop single to right in the first at bat of the Braves' sixth. 0 for 3 tonight, 12 for 31.
• Bryce Harper's home run in the season opener was his fourth Opening Day home run. He homered in last season's opener as well, making him the first player in franchise history (2005-present).
He joined the late great Gary Carter and Vladimir Guerrero as the only three players to do it if you include the Montreal past of the franchise.
• Harper entered tonight's game two home runs short of 100 so far in his career...
• In today's updated, Nationals-themed "Fun with Arbitrary End Points" segment, the Nats improved to 22-9 against the Braves... since June 21, 2014, with the win in the season opener on Monday.
They are 15-5 against their divisional rivals going back to last season.
• Ben Revere landed on the 15-Day DL with a right oblique strain today, so Michael A. Taylor got the start in center.
Taylor went 24 for 53 (.453/.491/.849) with six doubles, five home runs and three stolen bases in 20 games in Grapefruit League action after his breakout season as a rookie filling in for Denard Span in 2015.
Taylor showed off the arm in the fourth, making a strong throw in to second on a line drive off Adonis Garcia's bat, throwing the Braves' third baseman out at second.
Two walks later, he threw A.J. Pierzynski out at second when the Braves' catcher drove in a run with a single and tried to take an extra base.
• Stephen Strasburg struck Bud Norris out in the third inning of tonight's game, giving him 904 total to that point, good for the franchise record (2005-present). One more than Jordan Zimmermann's 903.
• Ender Inciarte made a spectacular diving play on a Ryan Zimmerman liner to the gap and doubled Bryce Harper up off first for an 8-3 DP in the fourth. Amazing catch.
• Matt den Dekker, who was called up to the majors this afternoon after Revere went on the DL, doubled to right-center to drive in two runs in the seventh, putting the Nationals up, 3-1.
Nationals now 2-0