Stephen Strasburg struck out ten batters in eight scoreless frames when he faced the Marlins in Miami last month. All that kept him trying for a complete game shutout was the fact that he was struggling with an illness at the time.
"Stras was masterful," Dusty Baker told reporters after the 7-0 win. "We wanted to take him out because he had been sick, and we got a long stretch of games here, so we've got to preserve him for the year even though you want your pitcher to get a shutout. It's not that often that you get them, but we had to decide between what's good for him and what's good for the team."
Heading into this afternoon's outing in Nationals Park, the Nats' 27-year-old right-hander, who signed a 7-year/$175M extension earlier this week, was (5-0) in seven starts with a 2.76 ERA, a 2.24 FIP, 12 walks (2.20 BB/9), 58 Ks (10.65 K/9) and a .218/.270/.311 line against in 49 innings.
In his second start of the season against Washington's NL East rivals, Strasburg gave up a home run early.
Christian Yelich got hold of a 96 mph 1-0 fastball and sent a two-out, solo blast to center in Nationals Park in the top of the first, making it 1-0 Marlins. It was the first home run by a left-handed hitter off Strasburg in 82 plate appearances in 2016.
The Nationals struck right back however, taking three straight walks from Marlins' starter Justin Nicolino to start the home-half of the first before Daniel Murphy hit a game-tying sac fly to right, 1-1.
Ryan Zimmerman followed with a sac fly to center as the Nats took a 2-1 lead, and Bryce Harper, who took the third of the three walks, stole third base, and scored on a two-out single to left by Jayson Werth, 3-1 after one.
Yelich struck again in the fifth, hitting a two-out, opposite field double to left field off Strasburg to bring Jeff Mathis in two outs after his leadoff double. 3-2 Nationals. It was was Yelich's second extra base hit off Strasburg, and just the third extra base hit by a lefty off Strasburg this season.
Michael A. Taylor singled with one down (1 for 1, 2 BB) in the Nationals' half of the fifth though, promptly stole second and scored on an RBI single to left by Anthony Rendon to give the Nats another two-run lead, 4-2.
• Justin Nicolino's Line: 4.2 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 5 BB, 1 K, 86 P, 46 S, 4/2 GO/FO.
Marcell Ozuna singled to start the sixth, extending his current hit streak to 13-straight games and scored one out later on an RBI single to left by Marlins' catcher Jeff Mathis, 4-3.
Nationals' catcher Wilson Ramos made it a two-run game again in the first at bat of the Nats' sixth, sending a solo shot to left-center on a 1-2 fastball from Nick Wittgren. No. 4 for Ramos.
• Stephen Strasburg's Line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 7 Ks, 1 HR, 104 P, 68 S, 7/2 GO/FO.
Felipe Rivero took over on the mound in the seventh and gave up a leadoff double by Derek Dietrich and an RBI single by Martin Prado as the Marlins once again pulled within one, 5-4. Shawn Kelley came on to get the final two outs of the frame.
Kelley came back out for the eighth and threw another scoreless frame, giving him 13 ⅓ scoreless on the year and the Nationals added to their lead in the bottom of the inning with Matt den Dekker reaching on an error and scoring on a Michael Taylor double, 6-4.
Jonathan Papelbon came on looking for save No. 11 of 2016 and worked around leadoff and two-out walks to lock it down.
Ballgame. 6-4 final.
Nationals now 23-13
• NATS NOTES:
- Last night's game marked the third time this season the Nationals have gotten three or more home runs in a game.
- Washington got two pinch hit home runs last night for the first time in franchise history (2005-present).
- Miami has played 44 doubleheaders in their history, sweeping seven, getting swept in ten and splitting them 27 times.
- Miami and Washington have played three doubleheaders since 2005, all three in D.C. with the divisional rivals splitting all three doubleheaders.
- The Nationals' six pinch hit home runs are the second-most in the majors thus far this season, behind only the St. Louis Cardinals' seven homers.
- Bryce Harper currently leads the majors with 37 walks and the NL in intentional walks (10) and after last night's blast, he's tied for second in the NL with 11 HRs. He took No. 38 of 2016 in his first plate appearance of the day.
- In today's Nationals-themed "Fun with Arbitrary End Points" segment, with the win last night, Washington improved to 50-32 against the NL East rivals since the Florida Marlins became the Miami Marlins in 2012.
- Jonathan Papelbon's save last night left him alone in 10th place on the All-Time saves list, eight saves behind Jeff Reardon (367) for ninth place.
- Daniel Murphy currently leads the majors with 18 multi-hit games in his first 34 games and he's hit safely in 29 of his first 34 games with the Nationals this season.
- Murphy started play today leading the majors with a .405 AVG.
- Marcell Ozuna started today's doubleheader with a 12-game hit streak going, over which he's gone 20 for 47 (.426 AVG) with four home runs and eight RBIs, taking him from a .218 to a .296 AVG. He extended it to 13 games with a single in the sixth.
Nationals now 23-13