Stephen Strasburg wasn’t blowing up the radar gun, but he was effective with what he had over six innings on the mound in Citizens Bank Park, holding the Philadelphia Phillies to five hits, three walks, and two runs in what ended up a 5-3 win for the Washington Nationals.
Strasburg vs the Phillies: Before taking the mound tonight in Citizens Bank Park, Stephen Strasburg had made just two starts total since June 8th, neither of which went very well.
Returning from a Disabled List stint for a right shoulder issue, the 30-year-old right-hander gave up eight hits, two walks, and six earned runs in 4 2⁄3 IP against Atlanta’s Braves, but a nerve issue in his neck landed him back on the DL after that outing.
He returned to the Nationals’ rotation last week with a four-inning start against the Phillies in D.C. in which he gave up seven hits, a walk, and five earned runs.
Tonight in Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park, Strasburg started strong with two scoreless on 28 pitches as the Nationals jumped out to a 2-1 lead, but then issued a leadoff walk to Nick Williams in the first at bat of the Phillies’ half of the third, and gave up an RBI triple to right on a 1-1 slider to Roman Quinn that ended up bouncing off the out-of-town scoreboard, 2-1 Nationals.
Rhys Hoskins took the second walk of the inning in the next at bat, and Cesar Hernandez hit a 2-2 fastball to center, driving Quinn in with a game-tying RBI single.
Strasburg threw a 16-pitch fourth after the Nationals retook the lead, and struck out the side in a 14-pitch fifth.
Adam Eaton threw Wilson Ramos out at third after the Phillies’ catcher singled and tried to take two on a hit to right by Asdrubal Cabrera in the sixth, and Strasburg got a visit to the mound after recording the second out, but stayed in and got No. 3.
Stephen Strasburg’s Line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 5 Ks, 99 P, 56 S, 8/2 GO/FO.
Solid night of work from Stras. pic.twitter.com/Hxi4kbBntE— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) August 28, 2018
Eflin vs the Nationals: Facing the Nationals last week in the nation’s capital, Phillies’ righty Zach Eflin gave up 10 hits, two walks, and five runs (four earned) in 3 1⁄3 innings before he was lifted from what ended up an 8-7 loss for the visitors.
It was his second start of 2018 against Washington, after he gave up six hits, a walk, and two earned runs in five innings in Nationals Park in June.
In four starts this month, the 24-year-old starter had put up a 4.88 ERA and a .274/.317/.453 line against in 24 IP before tonight’s outing, and he fell behind early in the series opener in Citizens Bank Park with Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, and Juan Soto connecting for back-to-back-to-back two outs hits in the first, with Soto’s driving in the first run run after a hit-and-run single set him up with runners on the corners, 1-0.
Matt Wieters got hold of a 94 mph first-pitch fastball from Eflin in the first at bat of the Nats’ second, and hit it out to right-center on a solo shot that made it 2-0 Nationals.
Matt Wieters has seen one pitch tonight and it left the yard. pic.twitter.com/0oVu1r2Oma— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) August 27, 2018
A leadoff single by Juan Soto (who took second on a wild pitch) and two walks (one each to Ryan Zimmerman and Wilmer Difo) set the Nationals with a bases-loaded, one-out chance in the fourth, which they cashed in with a bunt by Stephen Strasburg, on which Eflin made an error, tossing well over catcher Wilson Ramos’s head at home as the third run came in, 3-2.
Rhys Hoskins misread a pop to left by Trea Turner one out later, and let an RBI single fall in front of him as the Nationals made it 4-2 after three and a half.
Wilmer Difo singled off Eflin to start the sixth, stole second base, moved up on a sac bunt by Strasburg before the Phillies went to the pen for lefty Luis Avilan, who gave up a liner to left by Adam Eaton on a 1-1 curve, 5-2.
Zach Eflin’s Line: 5.1 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 Ks, 1 HR, 102 P, 68 S, 7/3 GO/FO.
Yeah, he’s not sitting: Juan Soto was in the lineup again tonight, for the 47th consecutive game, after Davey Martinez discussed possibly sitting the 19-year-old outfielder one day over the weekend, but Soto told him on Sunday that he wanted to play, when asked.
He was back out in the series opener with the Philadelphia Phillies tonight.
Soto entered the first of three in Citizens Bank Park leading major league rookies (with a minimum of 355 PA) in OBP (.408) and OPS (.915), and was ranked second in SLG (.507), and third in AVG (.290), though he’d struggled some in August with a .229/.385/.349 line, four doubles, and two home runs in 25 games and 105 PAs.
Soto went 2 for 4 with with a walk, RBI, and a run scored in the series opener in Citizens Bank, driving in the first run of the game for the Nats and scoring from third base in the fourth, on a bases-loaded sac bunt by Stephen Strasburg in what ended up a 5-3 win.
BULLPEN ACTION: Luis Avilan took over for the Phillies in the sixth, giving up an RBI double by Adam Eaton, who drove Wilmer Difo in to make it 5-2, and a walk to Bryce Harper one out later before Philly skipper Gabe Kapler went to the bullpen for righty Luis Garcia vs Anthony Rendon.
Garcia threw a scoreless top of the seventh to keep it a three-run game.
Tim Collins came on for the Nationals in the bottom of the inning and retired the Phillies in order in a 12-pitch frame.
Adam Morgan set the Nats down in order in the top of the eighth.
Ryan Madson, who came off the DL today, gave up a solo shot to left by Rhys Hoskins on the first pitch he threw, 5-3. No. 27 for Hoskins.
Morgan returned to the mound in the ninth, and tossed a scoreless frame to keep it a two-run game.
Justin Miller got the save opportunity in the ninth and retired the Phillies in order. What, no drama?
Final Score: 5-3 Nationals
Nationals now 66-66