Stephen Strasburg’s fastball hit 96-98 mph on the admittedly-not-always-accurate radar gun in West Palm Beach, Florida’s Ballpark of the Palm Beaches early in this afternoon’s outing against the Detroit Tigers.
Coming off a less-than-stellar start against the St. Louis Cardinals last week which saw him give up seven hits and six runs, all earned, in two innings of work, the Nats’ 28-year-old right-hander took the mound today against the Detroit Tigers and gave up three hits and two runs, both earned (one on a blast of a homer by J.D. Martinez), striking out five batters in a four-inning, 56-pitch outing in what ended up a 3-3 tie.
Here’s how it happened:
• Strasburg retired the side in order on nine pitches in the first inning, and worked around a one-out single in a scoreless second.
Brendan Ryan doubled with one down in the Tigers’ third on a line drive to right that Bryce Harper struggled with before throwing it back in.
Ryan stole third in the next at bat and scored on a sac fly by Tigers’ shortstop Jose Iglesias that made it a 1-0 game in Detroit’s favor after two and a half.
J.D. Martinez got all of a 94 mph 1-0 fastball from Strasburg in the fourth, sending a no-doubter of a home run out to left field to make it 2-0 Tigers.
“There was nothing cheap about that one.” - Charlie Slowes on J.D. Martinez’s HR
Strasburg’s Line: 4.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 Ks, 56 P, 40 S, 2/5 GO/FO
• Bryce Harper, who leads the Grapefruit League with five home runs, drew a two-out walk (his 4th this Spring) in his first at bat against Tigers’ starter Justin Verlander.
Harper entered today’s game 8 for 24 (.333/.407/1.000) with the five homers, a double, three walks and three Ks in 10 games, prompting Nationals’ hitting coach Rick Schu to tell reporters he saw signs of the 2015 Harper, who won the NL MVP, early this Spring.
“I think right now he’s really calm like he was his MVP year,” Schu said, as quoted by Washington Post writer Jorge Castillo.
“You can see that head staying still and he’ll do damage.”
• Ryan Zimmerman barreled up a fastball from Justin Verlander in the first at bat of the second, but it ran into the wind and was caught, leaving the Nationals’ veteran first baseman 0 for 16 so far this Spring.
He struck out the second time up, 0 for 17.
• Adam Eaton bunted his way on in the fifth, took second on an errant throw by Tigers’ starter Justin Verlander, and stole third with Stephen Drew at the plate, but he was stranded there two outs later.
• Wilmer Difo walked with one down and Michael A. Taylor singled with two out in the Nationals’ sixth, connecting for the Nats’ second hit of the game, but both runners were stranded. Still 2-0 Tigers.
• Joe Blanton gave up a one-out home run to left by Tyler Collins in the seventh, on a fly ball that got caught up on what Charlie and Dave described as the “jet stream” in the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. 3-0 Tigers.
• Chris Heisey doubled off Shane Green in the Nationals’ half of the seventh, improving to 5 for 15 in nine games this Spring, but he was stranded at second.
• Adam Lind (leadoff double), Wilmer Difo (RBI single), Michael A. Taylor (RBI double) and Brian Goodwin (RBI double), connected for back-to-back-to-back-to-back hits in the Nationals’ eighth, with Goodwin scoring on a sac fly by Neftali Soto as the Nationals rallied to tie it up at 3-3.
• Koda Glover worked around a two-out walk for a quick, scoreless ninth.
• Spencer Kieboom singled off right-hander Angel Nesbitt to start the bottom of the ninth. Rafael Bautista came on for Kieboom as a pinch runner. Lind had a well-struck liner to right knocked down by the wind on what could have been a walk-off winner.
• It went to extras in West Palm Beach. Austin Adams, part of the deal that sent Danny Espinosa to the LA Angels, retired the side in order to keep it tied.
• The Nationals came up empty in the bottom of the tenth.
Final Score: 3-3 tie.