Stephen Strasburg struck out 11 of 29 batters faced and held the Atlanta Braves to two runs on five hits in seven innings on the mound in SunTrust Park, leading Washington’s Nationals to a 5-4 win in the series opener with their NL East rivals.
Strasburg in Atlanta: Stephen Strasburg struggled in Atlanta early in his career, with a 4.37 ERA and a .281/.362/.439 line against in 10 starts and 47 1⁄3 IP in Turner Field, but the right-hander has had a better results on the mound in SunTrust Park, where he took the mound tonight with a 2.95 ERA and a .222/.247/.321 line against in three starts and 21 1⁄3 IP, and in his last six starts on the road in Georgia, dating to September 15, 2014, the righty was (5-1) with a 1.79 ERA heading into series opener.
Strasburg got off to a good start tonight, tossing three scoreless on 41 pitches and striking out six of the first ten batters he faced, four swinging, two looking.
A one-out hit-by-pitch on Freddie Freeman and weak liner to short right by Josh Donaldson set the Braves up with their first scoring opportunity of the night in the bottom of the fourth, and the home team tied it up at 1-1 when Nick Markakis singled to center field to bring Freeman home. A third straight single (by Austin Riley) loaded the bases in front of veteran catcher Brian McCann, who hit a sac fly to right, 2-1 after four.
Strasburg retired the Braves in order in the fifth, picking up his 8th K from 21 batters faced, and he took the mound in the sixth with a 4-2 lead and struck out the first two batters, 10 from 23, then worked around a two-out single in a 14-pitch frame that left him at 89 pitches overall after six.
A one-out walk to pinch hitter Matt Joyce on his 96th pitch got the bullpen moving, but a fly to right by Ronald Acuña, Jr. got Strasburg out No. 2, and a filthy 3-2 curveball got him out No. 3 and K No. 11 (from 29 batters).
Stephen Strasburg’s Line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 11 Ks, 103 P, 66 S, 3/2 GO/FO.
Fried vs Washington: After making his first two appearances of 2019 out of the bullpen, 25-year-old lefty Max Fried returned to the Braves’ rotation, and heading into tonight’s series opener with the Nationals, the 2012 1st Round pick was (7-2) with a 2.96 ERA, 11 walks, 51 Ks, and a .240/.282/.380 line against in 54 2⁄3 IP as a starter this season.
Fried tossed three scoreless on 39 pitches to start the first of two between the NL East rivals in SunTrust Park, but a leadoff single by Juan Soto, one-out single by Kurt Suzuki, and an RBI single by Victor Robles put the Nationals up 1-0 after three and a half in Atlanta.
With the score 2-1 Braves after five innings, Howie Kendrick and Kurt Suzuki hit back-to-back doubles in the top of sixth, 2-2, and a groundout moved Suzuki to third before a hit-by-pitch on Victor Robles (again, really) put runners on the corners with one out. Stephen Strasburg K’d trying to bunt with two strikes for out No. 2, but Trea Turner and Adam Eaton took back-to-back walks from Fried with Eaton’s forcing in a run and putting the Nationals up, 3-2. That was it for Fried...
Max Fried’s Line: 5.2 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 5 Ks, 88 P, 53 S, 4/2 GO/FO.
Soto is Streaking, So is Rendon: Juan Soto extended his career-best 11-game hit streak with a double in his second at bat on Monday, leaving the Nationals’ 20-year-old slugger 19 for 41 (.463 AVG) with six doubles, a triple, two home runs, five walks, and eight runs scored over the course of his streak, which has taken him from .228/.345/.415 to .287/.385/.512 overall on the season.
Anthony Rendon started the night with a 14-game on-base streak going, over which he was 18 for 51 (.353/.468/.745) with six doubles, one triple, four home runs, 11 walks, and 16 runs scored.
Soto extended his streak to 12-straight with a single in his second at bat against Braves’ lefty Max Fried, and he scored the Nationals’ first run on a two-out RBI single by Victor Robles in the top of the fourth.
Rendon extended his on-base streak with a walk (0 for 2, BB) in his third trip to the plate vs Fried in the top of the fifth, but he was stranded. Rendon ended up walking three times on the night.
BULLPEN ACTION: Anthony Swarzak took over for Max Fried with the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the sixth, and went 3-0 on Anthony Rendon and walked him on four, 4-2.
Juan Soto K’d looking at a 3-2 slider from Swarzak to end the threat and leave’em loaded.
Swarzak returned to the mound in the top of the seventh and gave up a leadoff home run by Howie Kendrick (3 for 4, 2B, HR), 5-2, before retiring the next three batters.
Jerry Blevins got the ball for the Braves in the top of the eighth, but was lifted with the bases loaded and two outs after a single by Trea Turner, an intentional walk to Anthony Rendon, and an unintentional walk to Juan Soto.
Josh Tomlin took over and popped Howie Kendrick up to end the threat and keep it a 5-2 game in the Nationals’ favor.
Kyle Barraclough got the eighth for the Nationals, and gave up a one-out double by Josh Donaldson, and a two-out, two-run home run to center by Austin Riley, whose 6th of the season made it a one-run game, 5-4 Nationals.
A walk to Brian McCann pushed Barraclough up to 23 pitches, but Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez stuck with the right-hander, who struck Ozzie Albies out to end the inning with a one-run lead. 5-4.
Tomlin came back out for the ninth and retired the Nationals in order to keep it 5-4.
Sean Doolittle came on in the save situation in the ninth and retired the first two batters he faced, but gave up a two-out single to left by Dansby Swanson.
Freddie Freeman stepped in with one on and two out and went down chasing a high, 2-2 pitch up out of the zone. Ballgame.
Nationals now 23-32