In back-to-back wins in his last two starts, Stephen Strasburg held Pittsburgh’s Pirates and the San Diego Padres to a combined 13 hits and six runs, five earned, (3.21 ERA), giving up two walks, and striking out 16, while holding opposing hitters to a .255/.278/.392 line in 14 IP.
“I like he was just attacking the strike zone, he really was,” Davey Martinez told reporters in Petco Park after the Nats’ win over the Padres. “He used his fastball quite a bit and that was nice to see. Threw it for strikes. Battled back [against] some hitters, worked his way back in counts and got big outs.”
Strasburg improved to (4-3) after eight starts this season with the second of his back-to-back wins, and left the mound in his hometown with a 3.52 ERA, a 3.68 FIP, 12 walks (2.01 BB/9), 59 Ks (9.89 K/9), and a .220/.271/.396 line against in 53 2⁄3 IP in 2018.
Facing off against the Diamondbacks for the second time this season Saturday afternoon, the 29-year-old right-hander, who gave up six hits, two walks, and five earned runs in 6 1⁄3 innings when he faced Arizona in D.C. last month, worked his way out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the bottom of the first, and struck out the side in the second to complete two scoreless on 31 pitches.
Strasburg’s first walk of the game, with two down in the third, came around to score when A.J. Pollock, who took a first-pitch fastball to the hip the first time up, lined a 3-2 slider out to left-center for a game-tying RBI double, 1-1.
Strasburg worked around a one-out single in the fourth, and picked up two Ks in a 1-2-3 fifth which left him with eight strikeouts overall on 85 pitches, then stranded a two-out single in a 12-pitch sixth that pushed him up to 97 total. He recorded two outs in the seventh before he was done for the day.
Stephen Strasburg’s Line: 6.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 Ks, 106 P, 68 S, 4/4 GO/FO.
With Sean Doolittle and Brandon Kintzler unavailable, the Nationals turned to Sammy Solis for the final out of the seventh, and Solis and Shawn Kelley combined for a scoreless eighth before Ryan Madson got a save opportunity and converted it.
Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez told reporters he was comfortable with the arms he sent out there even though it wasn’t his A-pen.
“I tell these guys all the time: I trust them,” Martinez explained, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman. “In big moments, they’ve got to come in and get these guys out.”
Strasburg said he trusts his teammates too.
“It’s just trusting the process and it’s a roller coaster of a season,” he told reporters after the Nationals’ second one-run win of the series and fifth in 14 one-run games this season.
“I think it’s just important for us to stick together when we do play these types of games and leave it all out on the field. Sometimes it’s going to work out and sometimes it’s not.”
Martinez said that he was impressed with the way Strasburg worked out of trouble early and held the D-backs to one run.
“He just settled in and Sevy did a good job with him. He really did. Got him back in the strike zone and he pitched really well. He kept us in the game, and that last inning I asked him if he had any more in his tank and he said, ‘Yeah, not a whole lot, but I’ve got enough.’ And I said alright. I didn’t want him to face the top of the order again, so he did great.”
With the third straight win in Chase Field, the Nationals handed the Diamondbacks their first series loss of the season.
“We didn’t score some early runs, obviously it impacted the game,” D-backs’ skipper Torey Lovullo said. “We battled hard, we kept the game close. The bullpen was outstanding and we gave ourselves a chance all the way until the final out.”