Stephen Strasburg retired the first fourteen batters he faced in his final regular season start tonight in the nation’s capital. His bid for a no-hitter ended with two out in the top of the fifth, but he continued to dominate over 7 2⁄3 scoreless, holding Pittsburgh Pirates’ hitters to just two hits while striking out eight batters on 98 pitches in what ended up a 6-1 win for the Washington Nationals.
Strasburg earned his 15th win with a dominant outing, and received all the run support he’d need in the bottom of the first inning, on an RBI double by Nats’ first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who went 4 for 4 with two doubles (Nos. 32, 33) and two home runs (Nos. 35 and 36) on the night.
Trea Turner, Anthony Rendon, Daniel Murphy, Jayson Werth, and Zimmerman all had multi-hit games against the Pirates, and Oliver Perez and Matt Grace finished up the outing after Strasburg was done for the night. Final Score: 6-1 Nationals.
Nationals now 97-63
HERE’S HOW IT HAPPENED:
• Anthony Rendon and Daniel Murphy connected for back-to-back, two-out singles in the bottom of the first (after Trea Turner singled and was doubled up on a liner back to the mound by Bryce Harper), and Ryan Zimmerman followed with a two-out double to left field that brought Rendon in before Murphy was thrown out at the plate, 1-0.
• Stephen Strasburg retired the first nine Pirates’ batters he faced, striking out five on 36 pitches, 24 strikes. He came back out with an 11-pitch, 1-2-3 fourth, adding a K for six total in four scoreless and hitless.
• Ryan Zimmerman lined his second double of the game (and No. 33 on the season) to center field with two down in the Nats’ fourth, but he was stranded at second base as Gerrit Cole completed a scoreless fourth on 22 pitches. 76 total after four.
StephenStrasburg200K.gif pic.twitter.com/1WM8fhmliG— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) September 30, 2017
• David Freese took a front door curve for a called strike three and out No. 2 of the top of the fifth. Seven Ks for Stras. Strasburg’s no-hit bid ended with two out in the inning on a grounder to first by Gregory Polanco that bounced off a diving Ryan Zimmerman.
A pop to short by Bucs’ backstop Elias Diaz ended a fifth scoreless frame, however, with the Nationals still ahead, 1-0.
• Strasburg hit Sean Rodriguez square in the gut with a 94 mph fastball on the first pitch of the sixth, putting the second Pirates’ runner of the game on base, but Cole popped a bunt back to the mound on the second pitch of the inning and then Adam Frazier sent the third pitch to second where Daniel Murphy made a diving play and backhand toss to Trea Turner to start an inning-ending 4-6-3 DP. Three-pitch frame.
• Turner (2 for 2, BB) and Anthony Rendon (2 for 3) connected for leadoff and one-out singles, respectively, in the sixth, and Daniel Murphy punched an opposite field single to left to bring Turner in from third and make it 2-0.
A.J. Schugel took over with two on and one out against Ryan Zimmerman, and got an out at third when Rendon tried to advance on a wild pitch, but Zimmerman hit a 2-2 fastball out to left-center for a two-run blast, his third hit of the night and his 35th HR of the season, 4-0.
Congratulations to Ryan Zimmerman on the 250th (!!!) HR of his career. pic.twitter.com/lYrano6YhM— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) September 30, 2017
• Gerrit Cole’s Line: 5.1 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 7 Ks, 103 P, 62 S, 5/2 GO/FO.
• Starling Marte singled to start the top of the seventh, connecting for the Pirates’ second hit of the game, but he was stranded two outs later when Strasburg finished up his seventh scoreless.
• Strasburg came back out for the eighth at 81 pitches but walked two in a 17-pitch frame and left the game with two on and two out. Oliver Perez took over on the hill and got a weak grounder for the finale out of the inning.
• Stephen Strasburg’s Line: 7.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 8 Ks, 98 P, 63 S, 7/3 GO/FO.
• Ryan Zimmerman hit his second home run of the night (and 36th of the season) out to right in the bottom of the eighth, 5-0, and Jayson Werth followed with the second of back-to-back jacks, 6-0. Werth’s 10th.
• Matt Grace got the ball in the ninth and gave up an infield single and RBI double to the first two batters he faced, Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen, 6-1.
• That’s how it ended. Ballgame. Final Score: 6-1 Nationals.
NATIONALS PREGAME NOTES:
- Washington’s walk-off win last night left them 45-38 in the all-time series with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
- Washington has a chance, if they can win two of the last three games in the regular season, to tie the franchise record with 98 wins set in 2012. Three wins in the three remaining games would, obviously, set a franchise record.
- Washington finished the road schedule 50-31, the best road record in the NL and a new franchise record for road wins in a single season.
- Since the start of the 2005 campaign, the Nationals, Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Angels, Philadelphia Phillies, and Los Angeles Dodgers are the only teams in the majors to win four division titles in a six-year span.
- Washington started the night with 210 home runs on the season and 804 runs scored, both franchise records for a single season.
- Washington’s offense started the night leading the NL in SLG (.448) and OPS (.780), and ranked third in AVG (.265), runs scored (804), and extra-base hits (tied, 546).
- In three career starts against the Pirates in Nationals Park, Stephen Strasburg had a 1.57 ERA in 23 innings before tonight.
Nationals now 97-63