Stephen Strasburg walked three, but limited the St. Louis Cardinals to two runs on three hits in 5 2⁄3 innings, striking out 10 of the 29 batters he faced in a 4-2 win over the Cards which wrapped up Washington’s Grapefruit League schedule.
Nationals’ slugger Matt Adams, center fielder Michael A. Taylor, and minor leaguer Chris Dominguez homered, and Wilmer Difo tripled and scored in the final game in Florida for Dave Martinez’s team.
Taking care of some Sunday yardwork. pic.twitter.com/6yyDZaxp7q— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) March 25, 2018
Strasbunny: Stephen Strasburg took the mound today in the final Grapefruit League game of the Spring for the Washington Nationals having given up 14 hits, five walks, and six runs, all earned, with nine Ks and a .333 BAA in 9 2⁄3 innings pitched this Spring.
Strasburg, 29, finished third in the voting for the 2017 NL Cy Young after going (15-4) in 28 starts with a 2.52 ERA, 2.72 FIP, 204 Ks (10.47 K/9), 47 walks (2.41 BB/9), and a pretty stingy .203/.265/.317 line against in 175 1⁄3 IP, while working exclusively out of the stretch for the first time in his career.
Earlier this winter, the right-hander was asked if he planned to continue pitching out of the stretch this season.
“Why not?” he asked rhetorically before explaining why he felt it benefitted him to continue doing what he did last season.
“I think it benefited me most by just being more consistent to home plate,” Strasburg said.
“It opened up different ways to attack guys. There were guys that kind of had my number, and facing them again, giving them a different look, kind of showed me that maybe I was doing something that was giving them an advantage, so I don’t know whether it’s something that they see with me tipping my pitches, or my timing to home plate, there are a variety of things, but I think as a pitcher you’ve got to focus on what you can control, and that’s doing everything you can to keep them off-balance.”
Strasburg kept leadoff hitter Dexter Fowler off-balance in the first at bat of this afternoon’s game, dropping a nasty breaking ball on the outfielder, who went down swinging for the first out, but a single through short, hit-by-pitch, and opposite field RBI double followed as the Cards jumped out to a 1-0 lead in a 19-pitch first.
It was all curveballs and changeups in the second (okay, not all, but lots of them, and nasty ones) as Strasburg struck out the side in a 12-pitch frame, and he picked up his sixth K in 2 1⁄3 innings with a brutal changeup that dove under Dexter Fowler’s bat for the first out of the third, then worked around a one-out walk (with help from a sliding Adam Eaton who made a catch at the left field line), stranding the only runner to reach base and picking up K No. 7 with another changeup that had Marcell Ozuna swinging wildly. 20-pitch frame, 51 total.
Strasburg picked up his 8th K with a 3-2 change to Yadier Molina, who was way out in front of the offspeed stuff for out No. 2 of the Cardinals’ fourth, and he retired the side in order in a 16-pitch frame that left him at 67 pitches overall.
Kolten Wong and Greg Garcia were strikeout victims Nos. 9 and 10 as Strasburg retired the Cardinals in order in an 11-pitch fifth.
Tommy Pham singled to start the Cardinals’ sixth and stole second, Matt Carpenter took the second walk from Strasburg to put two runners on with no one out, and Marcell Ozuna took the third, loading the bases, and pushing Strasburg up to 91 pitches, but he got a 6-4-3 DP out of Jose Martinez, while the tying run scored, 2-2. That was it for Stras...
Stephen Strasburg’s Line: 5.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 10 Ks, 1/3 GO/FO, 96 P
Mt. Adams: Cardinals’ starter Jordan Hicks tossed four scoreless innings, but John Brebbia took over in the fifth and promptly surrendered a long fly to right field by Matt Adams that cleared the wall and then some, tying things up at 1-1. Adams’ second HR of the Spring.
Michael A. Taylor followed one out later with a second solo home run off Brebbia, Taylor’s first in Grapefruit League action in 2018, made it 2-1 Nats at that point.
Bullpen Action: Tim Collins finished off the sixth inning. Enny Romero came out throwing heat in the seventh, and worked around a one-out single, getting an inning-ending 9-3 DP when the runner (Alex Mejia) ran on contact on a liner to right and was doubled up at first base. Nine-pitch frame for Romero.
D-I-F-O: Wilmer Difo tripled and scored on a sac fly in the seventh to put the Nationals on top, 3-2.
Madson: Ryan Madson gave up a leadoff double to the right-center gap by Jedd Gyorko, but Gyorko’s pinch runner was stranded three outs later as the right-handed reliever preserved the 3-2 lead. Chris Dominguez added to the Nationals’ advantage with a two-out solo homer in the bottom of the eighth. HR No. 4 on the Spring for Dominguez, 4-2.
Gott A Spot?: Trevor Gott completed his scoreless Spring with an 11th scoreless inning, as he retired the side in order to end the final game of the Spring. Give that man a roster spot.
Final Score: 4-2 Nationals