Stephen Strasburg struggled in the D.C. humidity when he faced the Cincinnati Reds on a muggy night last month in Washington.
Strasburg gave up eight hits and five runs in relatively short, five-inning outing in a 6-5 loss in which he threw 95 pitches.
He talked after the start about the weather in the nation’s capital being a factor.
Strasburg told reporters, as quoted by MASN’s Byron Kerr, that he felt like he, “... lost about 10 pounds of water weight,” while he was on the mound against the Reds.
“I thought I was ready for it,” he added. “It’s something I’m just not used to, growing up on the West Coast. I think I’ll adjust eventually. But I’d hopefully like to adjust sooner rather than later.”
He followed up on that start with strong seven-inning outing against the Cubs in Nats Park, striking out 13 and giving up four hits and three runs (two earned) in a 96-pitch effort in an 8-4 win.
It was sunny and 80° that day, and Strasburg told reporters afterwards that he fared better in the cooler weather.
“I just felt like I was physically in a good spot,” Strasburg said.
“Last couple warm starts I was kind of really feeling the effects of it, and so I talked to the strength coach and we got a good program going in and so I felt really physically right where I needed to be based on the hydration and all that stuff leading up to the start.”
At first pitch tonight, it was 90° in Washington. This time the hot weather didn’t seem to bother the 28-year-old right-hander.
Strasburg got off to a good start, throwing high fastballs past Jose Reyes and Asdrubal Cabrera for back-to-back Ks in the first two at bats of the game, and he completed a 16-pitch frame to begin the series opener with the New York Mets.
An 11-pitch, 1-2-3 second pushed him up to 27 pitches overall, and he collected his third K along the way.
Strasburg dropped a backdoor 2-2 curve in on Brandon Nimmo to get the Mets’ center fielder looking for the first out of the third, and his fourth K, and he worked around a two-out single in a 19-pitch frame to complete his third scoreless on 46 pitches.
A leadoff walk and back-to-back, two-out free passes loaded the bases for the Mets in the top of the fourth, but a 97 mph 2-2 fastball to Travis d’Arnaud caught the catcher looking for the final out of a 31-pitch frame that pushed him up to 77 pitches (and 5 Ks).
After a long fourth, Strasburg retired the Mets in order in a quick, seven-pitch fifth, and he was up to seven straight batters set down and six Ks after he got Jay Bruce swinging with an 0-2 changeup to end a 10-pitch sixth.
Two quick outs in the seventh gave Strasburg nine-straight outs, and he got the tenth on a pop to foul territory in right, ending an 11-pitch seventh at 105 total.
• Stephen Strasburg’s Line: 7.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 6 Ks, 105 P, 72 S, 4/8 GO/FO.
Michael A. Taylor put the Nationals ahead with a two-run home run in the eighth, but they had to win it in the ninth after another blown save by the bullpen, and another walk-off win for the NL East division leaders.
Strasburg got 15 swinging strikes overall on the night, three with his four-seamer and six each with his curve and changeup, and 56 of the 72 strikes he threw on the night were on pitches not put in play.
“Stras threw the lights out of the ball,” Dusty Baker told reporters after the 3-2 win.
“He had an outstanding breaking ball, and with the left-hand hitters over there he threw them some great breaking balls, and he kept us in the game until — in a close scoring game, 0-0, every run is so important. You’re not winning, 0-0, but you certainly aren’t losing and so that was what impressed me about him tonight.”
Strasburg was asked about the 31-pitch fourth, and the three walks that inning, and what was wrong that led to his only real rough spot in the start.
“It happens,” he said.
“I can’t really say what was going on. I just wasn’t throwing strikes, but you can’t really let that snowball, you’ve just got to say if you throw a ball, whatever, next pitch, and I kept telling myself that and luckily I was able to make a pitch when it mattered.”
Strasburg received no decision. He finished the night with a 3.28 ERA, 3.07 FIP, 31 walks (2.54 BB/9) and 128 Ks (10.50 K/9) in 109 2⁄3 innings pitched.
Though he didn’t talk to reporters along with his teammates before the first of three with the Mets, Strasburg was asked about getting selected for the NL’s All-Star roster on Sunday night. It’s his third All-Star selection, but the ‘09 No. 1 overall pick said he’s got other things on his mind.
“It’s definitely an honor, but there are bigger, more team-oriented goals that I have. I just want to keep doing what I’ve been doing and hopefully stay healthy and be there in the end and have an opportunity hopefully to pitch in October.”