Stephen Strasburg matched his season high with 11 strikeouts last time out on the mound before Tuesday night, giving up five hits, two walks, and two earned runs in seven innings on the mound against Atlanta in SunTrust Park.
Strasburg finished the month of May with a 2.61 ERA, 10 walks, 50 Ks, and a .210/.269/.245 line against in six starts and 41 1⁄3 IP.
“I truly believe last year, in September, he learned how to pitch,” Martinez explained, “and he learned how to use all his pitches and was very successful at the end there. Came back this year, and he’s doing the same thing. He doesn’t have to rely on a fastball.
“His changeup was great. His curveball was great. And he located his fastball when he needed to, so he’s having an unbelievable year.”
Going up against the Chicago White Sox last night, Strasburg and home plate umpire Mike Everitt had a difference of opinion on a few pitches in the first, and the right-hander was unhappy and let Everitt know after he gave up two walks, a hit-by-pitch, three singles and four runs in a 39-pitch opening frame, 4-0.
• First Inning Pitch Chart via BaseballSavant.com:
It was 5-0 after Yoán Moncada hit an 0-2 fastball up in the zone into the second deck in right field for a one-out solo shot in the second inning.
By the time he was done for the night, when the Nationals hit for him in the bottom of the fifth, Strasburg was line for win No. 100 of his career, however, as his teammates battled back with two in the third, a run in the fourth, and sixth in the fifth, picking their starter up and taking a 9-5 lead.
Before he was done, however, he’d had to work his way out of a second and third, no-out jam to keep it close after the Nationals had gotten it to 5-3.
Stephen Strasburg’s Line: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 6 Ks, 1 HR, 105 P, 67 S, 6/1 GO/FO.
Strasburg got the win, tying Clayton Kershaw and CC Sabathia for the fourth-fewest games needed to reach 100 wins, among active players, earning his 100th in his 219th career start (W, 100-55), with 95 of those wins, coming since he returned Tommy John surgery in late 2011.
When he’s received more than three runs of support while in the game in his career, the ‘09 No. 1 overall pick is now 86-5 with the Nationals 101-14 in those 115 outings.
“I definitely got punched in the face in the first,” Strasburg told reporters, as quoted by MASN’s Byron Kerr after the game.
“There’s only one thing you can do and that’s what we preach as an organization is, never to give up and keep battling. Moving on, to the fifth inning, that was a test of will there. It was great to see the guys pick me up. Obviously, the offense and the bullpen came and shut it down too.”
Kudos to Stras,” manager Davey Martinez said after the win.
“I mean, he gave up a few runs early but he kept us right there, and he battled, man,” his manager continued.
“Big inning in the fifth to get out of that mess, and like I said, a testament to him, and he gets his 100th win today. I know he’d have liked it a lot different, but it’s still a win for him.”
“His command was a little off,” Martinez explained when asked what went wrong early in the outing, “... but like I said, he gave us the innings that we needed and came back and got big outs for us in the fifth.”
Though he’s just in his second season as Strasburg’s manager, he watched him from the other side of the field for years, and Martinez said he still thinks there is room for the now-30-year-old righty to get better.
“He’s had some big outings for this club, and he continues to get better. I don’t think you’ve seen the best of Strasburg yet. I really don’t. What he’s done for this club? He elevated this club to be a really good caliber team and with him and the additions of — [Max] Scherzer came over and now [Patrick] Corbin, starting pitching is unbelievable, and he’s a reason why we’re where we’re at.”