Stephen Strasburg tossed eight scoreless innings against Atlanta when he faced the Braves in Nationals Park back on April 10th, giving up three hits and two walks, with eight strikeouts from the 28 batters he faced in what ended up a 4-1 win for Washington’s 29-year-old right-hander.
Strasburg told reporters after that game that he countered the Braves’ lineup by trying to match their aggressive approach at the plate from the mound.
“They’re a pretty aggressive team,” he explained, “... so I think you try and — I mean, they hit the ball to some guys early and they squared some balls up and got away with it, but I think it’s just stay aggressive and the statistics are normally going to be in your favor.”
Strasburg went just five innings on 103 pitches in his last start before tonight’s, striking out eight of the 21 batters he faced in Miami’s Marlins Park, with the Fish fouling off pitches and running his pitch count up.
Friday night in Atlanta’s SunTrust Park, Strasburg was much more efficient, or the Braves weren’t as selective. He tossed five scoreless on 67 pitches to start, striking out seven of 18 batters while working around just four hits while the opposing pitcher, Mike Foltynewicz, mowed Nats’ hitters down, retiring 17-straight after a one-out single by Bryce Harper in the first.
Strasburg matched Foltynewicz through six, but things went all pear-shaped in the seventh, with back-to-back singles by Nick Markakis and Kurt Suzuki to start the frame before an E:3 on Matt Adams on a grounder toward first allowed Markakis to score from third to make it 1-0.
One out later, Braves’ shortstop Dansby Swanson hit hanging 1-2 curve to left for a three-run blast that blew the game open, 4-0. Strasburg left the mound with two down when he had a cramp in his left hand/forearm that ended his outing.
Stephen Strasburg’s Line: 6.2 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 10 Ks, 1 HR, 107 P, 77 S, 8/2 GO/FO.
Foltynewicz held the Nationals to two hits and a walk in a complete game shutout in which he struck out 11 on 106 pitches.
“He was really good,” Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez said of Foltynewicz’s after the second straight loss to the Braves.
“I mean really. I’ve seen him pitch a lot on video, and he was real, real good. Kudos to him.
“We couldn’t get nothing going. Our guy was really good too, he made one mistake, and he knew it, but overall just couldn’t get nothing going.”
“That’s part of being human,” Strasburg said, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman after the game.
“That’s part of baseball. I think I just have to focus on all the good pitches I made. They capitalized on one mistake.”
As for Strasburg’s hand, and his rather abrupt exit?
“He had a cramp,” Martinez told reporters, “... and when you get those cramps like that, they’re not going to go away. So, he did well, he had 107 pitches at that point, so I said, ‘Hey, it’s good. You’re good. You did really well. So let’s get you out.’
“And he didn’t want to come out. But I said, ‘Let’s get you out and I’ll get you ready for your next start.’”
Martinez stressed that it was Strasburg’s non-pitching hand. “Non-throwing hand, yeah. When you cramp up like that it’s not going to go away.”
Was there any sign of an issue earlier in the inning?
“No,” Martinez said. “He was throwing good. He got one ground ball that we couldn’t make a play on, and Suzuki, a jam-shot base hit, and other than that he threw the ball really well.”