Stephen Strasburg took the mound Saturday afternoon in Washington, D.C.’s Nationals Park unbeaten in four May starts at (3-0) with a 3.55 ERA, 10 walks (3.55 BB/9), 28 Ks (9.95 K/9) and a .232/.308/.400 line against in 25 1⁄3 innings on the mound this month.
Strasburg, 28, was also unbeaten in his last five starts against San Diego, going back to a loss in his first start against his hometown team back in 2011, with a (5-1) record and a 3.50 ERA in 36 career innings pitched against the Padres.
He was coming off a 7 2⁄3-inning start against the Atlanta Braves, (arguably his best of the season), in which he gave up five hits, one walk and two earned runs, while striking out 11 of the 29 batters he faced.
Strasburg was sharp again this afternoon, completing five scoreless on 83 pitches and striking out 11 of the first 19 batters he faced, walking one and giving up just one hit over the first five innings.
He also singled and scored a run in the third, sliding in around a tag at home to put the Nationals up 1-0 early.
Three strikeouts in a 17-pitch sixth left Strasburg at 14 Ks and 100 pitches overall, and he came back out for the seventh and with a 3-0 lead (courtesy of a 2-run HR by Michael A. Taylor in the bottom of the sixth) and retired the Padres in order in an eight-pitch, 1-2-3 inning, collecting his career-high 15th K from the 27th batter he faced.
Stephen Strasburg’s Line: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 15 Ks, 108 P, 76 S, 5/1 GO/FO.
A night after Max Scherzer struck out 13 Padres in a 5-1 win, Strasburg piled up the Ks in a 3-0 win.
Strasburg dismissed the idea of competition between starters pushing each other as just “talk”, telling reporters, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman, starters need to, “... go out there and pitch to your strengths and do what you can to keep it close and give the guys in the lineup a chance to go out there and win the game.”
His manager (for the weekend) Chris Speier, however, said there was something to it.
“I know when you have those types of combinations, they feed off each other,” Speier told reporters. “You know there’s a little competitiveness within the starting pitchers that is very healthy.
“Somebody comes and throws well, the next guy wants to throw well too, so it’s a win/win for us.”
Strasburg got 15 swinging strikes, with 26 swings and seven misses on his fastball, 11 swings and three misses with his changeup, six swings and one miss with what Brooks Baseball said were sliders and eight swings and four misses with his curve.
When he’s got it all working like that, how hard is it for a hitter to get anything done?
“When you can throw 95, as a hitter you’ve got to protect against the fastball,” Speier said, “... but he had — the last two outings he’s had his curveball working really, really well, and so it’s, like I said, ‘Good luck,’ as a hitter, that’s not easy.”
Speier managed the Nationals to their second straight win with Dusty Baker home for his son’s graduation this weekend.
“Piece of cake, huh,” Speier joked. “Strasburg, 15 strikeouts, career high. Michael Taylor swinging the bat well, big two-run homer. I haven’t done anything, which is great.”
Strasburg was not interested in dwelling on the start, telling reporters, that it was “cool”, but he has another start in five or six days to begin preparing for now.