Stephen Strasburg took the mound last night unbeaten in his previous five starts, in which he was (2-0) with a 2.41 ERA, seven walks, 40 Ks, and a .182/.233/.289 line against in 33 2⁄3 IP, with his last outing before taking on the Braves in Atlanta’s SunTrust Park an eight-inning outing in the nation’s capital in which he held the Miami Marlins off the board.
“It’s tough,” Washington Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez said after watching Strasburg toss eight scoreless vs the Fish, “because he can attack in multiple ways.
“Changeup, fastball, two-seam, four-seam, curveball, and throw them all for strikes.
“He threw a 3-2 curveball a couple times for strikes, and just really good.”
Last night in Atlanta, Strasburg was taking on the Nationals’ NL East rivals for the fourth time in 2019, after going (3-0) with a 3.93 ERA, seven walks, 23 strikeouts, and a .257/.329/.357 line against in 18 1⁄3 IP.
Stephen Strasburg, Filthy 83mph Curveball...Josh Donaldson with a stylish catch of his Sword. ⚔️ pic.twitter.com/9VFKRCv2Zk— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 6, 2019
Strasburg fell behind early, however, with Ronald Acuña, Jr. singling to lead off the home-half of the first, before scoring on an bloop double to left by Ozzie Albies, who scored too, coming in from second on an RBI single by Freddie Freeman, 2-0.
Acuña got Strasburg for another run in the fifth, hitting a 95 MPH 3-0 fastball out right for an opposite field home run that made it a 3-0 game.
Strasburg issued his fourth walk of the night in the sixth, tying his season high, which he set in an April 9th start in Philadelphia, and the 21-pitch frame left him at a season-high 115 total pitches on the night in what ended up a 4-2 loss that snapped his unbeaten streak.
Stephen Strasburg’s Line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 7 Ks, 1 HR, 115 P, 71 S, 7/0 GO/FO.
Overall, it was a solid outing, with the early hits not particularly well-struck, and he finished the night with 18 swinging and 23 called strikes.
“Strasburg made his pitches,” his manager said after the loss, “but you’re talking about some good hitters over there, so sometimes that’s how it works. They got a couple early runs on bloops, we’re not going to complain about that because we’d take them too.”
“I gave it everything I had and it just wasn’t good enough tonight,” Strasburg said in his own post-game scrum, “but sometimes that happens. They made me work for it all night.
“I wasn’t expecting anything less, I was excited for the challenge, those are just the type of games that you’re going to get and hopefully we come out on top tomorrow.”
He said he was happy with the process on the early hits, if not the results.
“I wouldn’t say they were really mistake pitches,” he explained.
“I feel like I executed them, so that’s something I can’t control, but really can’t control whether or not they battle it and hit it where we’re not.”
Not even the 3-0 pitch to Acuña was really a mistake in his mind.
“Again, it wasn’t like I was trying to lay one in there,” he said, “you have an idea, I just think he put a good swing on it, I think it’s more so guys make adjustments and they start to change their approach off you and once they started doing that it’s your job to make the adjustment as well.”
As for going to a season-high 115 pitches, after his spot came up in the top of the sixth? Was there any discussion about whether or not he felt good enough to keep going?
“They asked me how I feel and to be 100% honest I mean it’s September and I told them just go out there and take the ball out of my hands when you want to, so it doesn’t really matter how I feel.”