Stephen Strasburg gave up four hits and four runs, all earned, over six innings of work on the mound against the Colorado Rockies last time out before Saturday night in LA, which left the 2009 No. 1 overall pick with a 3.08 ERA, 3.94 FIP, six walks (2.05 BB/9), 26 Ks (8.89 K/9), and a .204/.257/.361 line against in four starts early in 2018.
Strasburg talked after that outing about the team as a whole struggling out of the gate this season and not being quite right early.
“I think something’s missing right now,” he said, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman.
“In times like that, I think you can sit there and let it keep going or grind. And I think that’s what we’re trying to do, and that’s all we really can do. We’re too good of a team to not be winning games. It’s going to change. I think it’s just a matter of sticking together, and playing good baseball and playing at the level that we know we’re capable of playing.”
Strasburg hadn’t been quite as unhittable as he was late last season either, surrendering a total of four home runs in his first four starts and 26 1⁄3 IP after he gave up just two total in his final 62 2⁄3 IP last season while posting a 0.86 ERA after the All-Star Break.
He gave up his fifth home run in 28 1⁄3 innings on a 1-0 fastball that Joc Pederson sent out to center field in Dodger Stadium to put LA up 1-0 early in the second of three for the Nats this weekend in Chavez Ravine.
Strasburg held the Dodgers to the one run through five, with a 23-pitch fifth inning leaving him at 62 pitches overall on the night, but he ran into trouble in the sixth inning, with a line drive single, free pass, and hit-by-pitch loading the bases with no one out before he struck three straight batters out to keep it a 1-0 game.
Davey Martinez sent his starter back out for the seventh at 90 pitches, and Strasburg picked up his fourth and fifth-straight Ks from the first two batters he faced, before giving up a two out solo shot to left by Enrique Hernandez on a 1-1 fastball. 2-0 Dodgers.
Stephen Strasburg’s Line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 10 Ks, 2 HRs, 107 P, 73 S, 3/4 GO/FO.
Nationals’ reliever Carlos Torres gave up a two-run blast in the eighth that put the Dodgers up 4-0, and they took the second game of the series to set up a rubber match tomorrow in the series finale in Dodger Stadium.
Of his 107 total pitches, 52 were fastballs, 38 for strikes, and he got 30 swings and 10 whiffs with the heater, which sat around 98 according to Brooksbaseball.net. Strasburg was asked if he leaned on the fastball, because he had confidence in and control of the pitch.
“I like to think that I have confidence, you know, regardless,” Strasburg told reporters. “I was locating pretty well, and they ran into a couple balls, you know, baseball.”
The way he worked out of the bases-loaded, no-out jam impressed his manager.
“He was good. Real good,” Martinez said after the loss. “That one inning, bases loaded, no outs, that’s what you get from Stephen Strasburg.”
“Gave everything I had, so, I was in a jam there basically with nobody out and I thought that was going to be the deciding factor of the game,” Strasburg said, “... so I gave it everything I had there and tried to keep it as close as I could.”
The first-year skipper was asked if he thought twice about sending Strasburg back out for the seventh, after the long bottom of the sixth inning.
“I thought he looked good,” Martinez explained, “... and he came back and he said he felt strong, and he went out there. He threw  pitches, but kept us in the ballgame.”
Strasburg talked about his approach in the sixth, and how he managed to work his way out of a situation that could have blow the game wide open.
“It’s make one pitch at a time, and I think you get into situations like that and you’ve just got to challenge them,” he said.
With the loss, the 29-year-old right-hander fell to (2-2) after five starts with a 2.97 ERA, 4.22 FIP, eight walks (2.16 BB/9), and 36 Ks (9.72 K/9) in 33 1⁄3 IP. The Nationals fell to 10-11 overall on the season with their second loss in five games on the current road trip.