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Stephen Strasburg battles through five on 99 pitches in Nationals’ 4-2 loss to the Cardinals

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Stephen Strasburg threw 38 pitches in the first, and was up to 99 total after five in what ended up a 4-2 Nationals’ loss to the Cardinals.

Washington Nationals v St Louis Cardinals Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Washington Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez talked before Stephen Strasburg faced the St. Louis Cardinals back on May 2nd, about what’s working for the right-hander when things are going well on the mound.

“When he utilizes his changeup and is throwing it down in the strike zone a lot of good things happen,” the second-year skipper explained.

“Everybody’s talked about his velo,” Martinez added, “and now he’s pumping 95-96 again, so that’s kind of nice, so when he’s really on, his balls are down, his ball’s moving and he’s got that 95 crisp, 96.”

Strasburg was on that day, holding the Cards to a run on six hits in 6 23 IP, striking out nine of the 27 batters he faced in what ended up a 108-pitch outing in a 2-1 win in the nation’s capital.

Last night in Busch Stadium, the 31-year-old right-hander faced the Cardinals again, and had a rough time of it in the first, giving up two walks, two hits, and two runs on a two-out home run by Marcell Ozuna, 2-0 Cards.

Strasburg ended up throwing 38 pitches total in the inning, then he retired the side in order in the bottom of the second, but struggled to get through the Cardinals’ third, with back-to-back walks to start the frame before he got three straight outs, though the starter’s 26-pitch inning left him at 76 total after three.

Two more relatively quick innings left Strasburg at 99 pitches total after five innings in St. Louis, and that was it for him in what ended up a 4-2 loss to the Cards...

Stephen Strasburg’s Line: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 6 Ks, 1 HR, 99 P, 67 S, 7/0 GO/FO.

“Obviously, first inning was a debacle,” Strasburg told reporters, including MASN’s Mark Zuckerman after the game.

“One bad pitch and a couple free passes and jacked my pitch count up. And had to kind of put the nail in the coffin a little bit and keep pounding away.”

Strasburg only generated eight swinging strikes on the night (vs 17 from the Cardinals’ hitters in May), but he did get 24 called strikes, 14 with his curve, (one more called strike than he got from the Cards in Nationals Park), but their hitters managed to foul off a total of 25 pitches on the night in Busch Stadium (after fouling off 13 of 108 in D.C.).

He said he knew what he was getting into when he took the mound, and knew they’d grind out at bats.

“He battled, from the start,” fill-in skipper Chip Hale said after managing the game with Nats’ manager Davey Martinez back in D.C. dealing with health issues.

“[The Cardinals] did a great job of making him throw pitches, they put a lot of pressure on us with the running game, and he was just able to hold them to two runs. Obviously five innings, and it was a struggle. But he did it. Hot night, sweating a lot out there, the ball was wet. So, I was really proud of him to get us to that spot again ... he gave us a chance to win it.”