Stephen Strasburg gave up a run in the first last night in the series opener with the Atlanta Braves in SunTrust Park. Freddie Freeman drove Ronald Acuña, Jr. in with an opposite field single, 1-0, but the Washington Nationals took the lead in the third, putting up a total of eight runs in the top of the inning.
Strasburg singled and scored from first base on an Adam Eaton double, then hit a three-run home run the second time up in the frame, becoming the first pitcher in the Nats’ franchise history with two hits in one inning.
If you hit a home run on this Nationals’ team, however, you know what that means... you have to dance in the dugout in the Gerardo Parra-led celebrations.
So when, after hitting a 420-foot blast to left, did Strasburg realize he was going to have to dance?
"As you're rounding the bases, at what point are you realizing that you're gonna have to dance in the dugout?"#Strasmas // #OnePursuit pic.twitter.com/wKGS8QsicL— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) July 19, 2019
“Right when I got to the top step,” Strasburg said, “and to be honest, it was pretty nerve-wracking, I didn’t really have anything, so not a big dancer to begin with.”
How did he do?
STEPHEN STRASBURG DANCING KLAXON pic.twitter.com/WYTvOO6Y1I— Blake Finney (@FinneyBlake) July 19, 2019
And what did his manager think of Strasburg’s “moves”?
“Umm, I had to watch that one. It was definitely a moment,” Davey Martinez told reporters after what ended up a 13-4 win.
And his reaction to that home run?
Stephen Strasburg's 4th career HR traveled 420 feet.#BanTheDH // #OnePursuit pic.twitter.com/aSUCZux5FB— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) July 19, 2019
“‘Wow,’ you know, he does have pop,’” Martinez joked.
“It’s just how crazy this game is,” Strasburg said.
“Obviously my focus is going out there and trying to keep the other team at bay, but sometimes you just run into the ball and I’ve always been told that a swinging bat’s a dangerous one, so I was just able to connect on some.”
Strasburg drove in two more with a single in the top of the fifth, (3 for 3, 5 RBIs), making it a 10-1 lead at that point, and he tossed a scoreless, 15-pitch bottom of the fifth inning that left him with 88 pitches overall on the night.
He was up to 106 after giving up a leadoff walk, an RBI triple, and an RBI double in the sixth, 10-3, and that was it for the right-hander’s outing.
Stephen Strasburg’s Line: 5.1 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 7 Ks, 106 P, 65 S, 3/2 GO/FO.
“Stephen wasn’t as sharp as he could be, but man, he swung the bat really well,” Martinez said.
“He might be a pinch hitter coming up here for the rest of these games, but he kept us in the game and did really well, you know. I went out there [in the sixth] and I talked to him and I figured with all the running around that he did, he was gassed, and it was the perfect time and I told him, ‘Hey, we’ll pass it over and get these outs and go on.”
Sure, sure, he wasn’t at his best on the mound, but what did Martinez see in Strasburg’s swing?
“For me, he gets ready early and his swing path — he stays through the zone really good, and he’s able to make contact, you know he makes hard contact.”
“I don’t really try to do too much out there,” Strasburg said. “I just try to see some pitches, hopefully spit on some offspeed, get the bunt down when I need to and that’s it. So try and keep it simple.”
Here’s what 420 feet of simple looks like on MLB Barrel Alert’s Twitter feed:
Stephen Strasburg (1) off RHP Touki Toussaint (8) - 104.7 mph, 25 degrees (420 ft Home Run)— MLBBarrelAlert (@MLBBarrelAlert) July 19, 2019
92.3 mph Four-Seamer#Nationals @ #Braves (T3) pic.twitter.com/Ttwxgi8GpT