Stephen Strasburg tossed seven scoreless against the New York Mets this past Monday, holding Washington’s divisional rivals to two hits, and three walks, in a 105-pitch effort in what ended up a 3-2 in which he received no decision.
The outing extended a five-start unbeaten streak for the 28-year-old righty, who had avoided a loss over that stretch in spite of the fact that he hadn’t been particularly sharp.
In those five starts, the ‘09 No. 1 overall pick was (2-0) with the Nationals 4-1 in his outings, over which the eight-year veteran had put up a 4.60 ERA, nine walks (2.76 BB/9), 39 Ks (11.97 K/9), and a .245/.315/.427 line against in 29 1⁄3 innings pitched.
Dusty Baker talked after the start against New York about Strasburg’s curveball being effective.
He threw 37 times, according to Brooks Baseball, for 29 strikes (78.4%) generating 18 swings, six swinging strikes, and 23 strikes that weren’t put in play.
“He had an outstanding breaking ball,” Baker said, “... and with the left-hand hitters over there he threw them some great breaking balls, and he kept us in the game.”
Heading into today’s outing, in his final start before the All-Star Break, and his third All-Star appearance, opposing hitters had a .147 AVG against Strasburg’s curve, a .141 AVG against his changeup, and a .254 AVG against his four-seamer.
Strasburg started the day with a 3.28 ERA, a 3.09 FIP, 31 walks (2.54 BB/9), 128 Ks (10.50 K/9), and a .211/.274/.356 line against in 109 2⁄3 IP.
“He’s been excellent at times, good at times, and fair at times,” Nationals’ skipper Dusty Baker told reporters before today’s game.
“But he and the team have a way of winning when he’s on the mound. Shoot, what is he 9-2? You can’t argue with that, and the important thing is how the team responds behind him.”
Baker also remarked that Strasburg had, on a few occasions, managed to “spit the hook”, which, he explained, “... means that the team bailed him out and he didn’t get the loss,” but the Nationals weren’t able to do that today.
After falling behind early, the Nationals lost big, and were shut out for the first time in 87 games this season.
The trouble started early for Strasburg.
A well-placed, spinning pop to left by Nick Markakis, and two well-placed RBI singles by Kurt Suzuki and Julio Teheran put the Braves up 2-0 in the third of four in the nation’s capital between the NL East rivals.
The Braves added two more on RBI singles by Matt Kemp and Suzuki in the third, 4-0, and Teheran hit a two-run single to center to make it 6-0 after two and a half, and Strasburg, who took a liner off the hip from Markakis in the third, did not come back out for the fourth.
Stephen Strasburg’s Line: 3.0 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 65 P, 42 S, 5/2 GO/FO.
“The ball hit him on the bone on the side of his leg,” Baker explained when he talked to reporters after the loss. “So he was coming out mainly because he was hurting, but what hurt were — early in the game was — Suzuki with those key hits and Teheran with those key hits. They had driven in four out of the first five runs, the bottom of the order, [Johan] Carmago had gotten a couple walks.”
“Bad luck, to be honest,” Strasburg said, when asked about the hits he allowed in his shortest start of the season so far.
“Other than [Freddie] Freeman and Markakis they really just weren’t really squaring the ball up, but I just got singled to death.”
Baker said he wasn’t yet sure if the liner off Strasburg’s hip would be a problem beyond today.
“I don’t know,” he said.
“I haven’t talked to the trainers, but it hit him in a spot that he should be alright. I don’t know if they’re going to have X-rays or anything, I haven’t talked to the trainer about it or talked to Stras.”
Strasburg didn’t seem to have any concerns.
“I feel fine. I mean, I definitely could have kept going, but just got singled to death.”
Asked if he thought the hip would be a problem beyond today, he said simply, “No.”
He didn’t, however, lobby to stay in the game beyond the third, though he said it was not because he was hurt.
“I know some guys want to lobby for it, but I feel like that’s their decision and I’m going to keep going until they take the ball out of my hands and that’s when they decided to take it out of my hands.”