Stephen Strasburg's return from the 15-Day Disabled List was announced by manager Dusty Baker in his post game press conference late last night, but until Strasburg threw his warm-up pitches and got through his pregame routine, they were still not sure he would take the mound.
Apparently things went well for the 27-year-old right-hander this afternoon, because Strasburg, who missed two starts with an upper back strain (and a rib issue which required that he have his ribs "popped" back into place), took the hill.
Strasburg started the day (10-0) in 14 starts with a 2.90 ERA, a 2.86 FIP, 24 walks (2.32 BB/9), 118 Ks (11.42 K/9) and a .218/.275/.346 line against in 93 innings.
He finished the afternoon (11-0) after 15 starts with a 2.71 ERA, a 2.90 FIP, 28 walks (2.53 BB/9) and 123 Ks (11.11 K/9) in 99 ⅔ innings pitched after tossing 6 ⅔ scoreless and hitless in what ended up a 12-1 win.
Strasburg's catcher gave him an early lead to work with in the series finale of the four-game set with the Cincinnati Reds in D.C.
Wilson Ramos got hold of a first-pitch change from Reds' lefty John Lamb in the second and sent a solo shot into the visitor's bullpen in left to give the Nationals a 1-0 lead early. Home run No. 13 for the Nationals' All-Star nod-worthy backstop.
Lamb then got himself in a jam in the bottom of the fourth with back-to-back-to-back walks in front of Danny Espinosa, who flat-crushed a full-count change and sent his second grand slam of the series out to left to make it 5-0 Nationals.
Espinosa's 17th HR of the year. That's 17. And that's Danny Espinosa. #Cantpredictball
Bryce Harper tied Espinosa for the team lead in home runs in the bottom of the fifth with a scorched line drive to right on a 1-1 changeup from Lamb. Solo shot. HR No.17 for Harper. 6-0 Nationals.
Daniel Murphy singled in the next at bat and scored on an opposite field RBI double to right-center by Wilson Ramos that made it 7-0 Nationals, and Espinosa added a run with an RBI single before the end of the fifth, 8-0.
After Strasburg retired the Reds in order in the sixth, he was up to nine-straight batters retired and 17 of 18 set down overall over six scoreless and hitless.
Murphy singled in another run in the bottom of the sixth, sending a grounder by third, just under Eugenio Suarez's glove after a walk to Jayson Werth and a HBP on Bryce Harper from Reds' right-hander Keyvius Sampson. 9-0.
Strasburg left the mound with a runner (who walked) on third and two out in the Reds' seventh after throwing 109 pitches total in 6 ⅔ hitless innings on the mound.
Stephen Strasburg's Line: 6.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 5 Ks, 109 P, 70 S, 7/3 GO/FO.
Anthony Rendon and Danny Espinosa (again?) homered in the seventh to make it 11-0 Nats in from of a crowd of 37,238 in the nation's capital. Espinosa's 15th RBI (I know, RBIs, whatever) of the series against the Reds, who, as Washington Post writer Thomas Boswell noted on Twitter, had scored 15 runs total in the four-game set.
Matt Belisle gave up the Reds' first hit and run in the eighth, 11-1, but, Stephen Drew gave the Nationals their 11-run lead back with a solo blast in the bottom of the inning. 12-1 final. Ballgame.
Nationals now 50-33
- Cincinnati's win last night left them 8-4 against Washington over the last two seasons with a 42-36 advantage over the Nationals in the all-time series (2005-present).
- Washington's loss last night snapped a six-game winning streak overall and a nine-game winning at home... in extra innings.
- The Nationals' nine-game extra inning win streak in D.C. was, according to Elias Sports Bureau, the longest home winning streak in extra innings since the Arizona Diamondback won nine in a row in Chase Field from 2013-2014.
- Washington's 49-33 entering play today was the NL's third-best, behind only San Francisco (51-32) and Chicago (51-29).
- Reds' first baseman Joey Votto returned to the lineup this afternoon after missing last night's game with a sore right shoulder suffered on an awkward slide into second on Friday night.
- Votto started the day with a three-game hitting streak, over which he was 6 for 11. He put up a .319/.466/.549) line in the month of June.
- Reds' starter John Lamb, who was making his first career start vs the Nationals this afternoon, in the series finale with the Nats, had the Cincinnati bullpen blow saves in three of his last five starts before today.
- Nationals' starter Stephen Strasburg returned from the DL (with Joe Ross going on the Disabled list) as the only qualified pitcher in the majors without a loss so far this season.
- Adam Duvall is only the third Reds' batters since 1933 to produce at least 20 doubles, 22 HRs and 58 RBIs prior to the All-Star Game, joining Gus Bell (1953) and Johnny Bench (1970) on that short list.
- In today's Nationals-themed "Fun with Arbitrary End Points" segment: Jayson Werth leads all Nationals' hitters with a .431 OBP... since June 1st.
- Since June 7th, Werht is 26 for 79 (.329 AVG) with seven doubles, a home run and 22 walks over that stretch.
- Nats' shortstop Danny Espinosa hit his 16th home run of the season on Saturday night. It was his 10th home run since June 1st.
- In a bonus Nationals-themed "Fun With Arbitrary End Points" segment: Washington ranked 1st in runs scored (156), 2nd in SLG (.449), second in OPS (.788), third in home runs (39) second in doubles (57) and second in walks (104) in the NL... since June 1st before today.
Nationals now 50-33