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Washington Nationals drop 14-3 decision to St. Louis Cardinals: Stephen Strasburg struggles in second outing of 2021...

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It was as ugly as the score. And it took forever...

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

Stephen Strasburg never looked comfortable on the mound. His velocity was off. A camera in Busch Stadium caught him as he was rubbing his right shoulder/neck in the dugout. He also ended up giving up a total of eight hits and five walks with seven earned runs on his line for the night in St. Louis, where the Cardinals beat the Washington Nationals by a final score of 14-3. At least it only took... 5 hours. Oh, sorry, I’m told it was just over three hours and 30 minutes.

Stras vs the Cards: Stephen Strasburg tossed six scoreless in a 2-0 loss to Atlanta in his 2021 debut, walking two and striking out eight in an 85-pitch effort.

“I mean it was awesome to see,” manager Davey Martinez said.

“He looked great. His velo was up a tick, so I think good things to come here soon, but he was throwing strikes, he was pounding the strike zone. He looked, really, really good.”

Strasburg probably could have gone deeper into the outing, but Martinez said he thought six innings and 85 pitches was enough.

“We just want to keep it right there. We just got to remember he missed a lot of last year, so we got to keep him right where we’re at and build him up.”

Tonight, in St. Louis, Strasburg fell behind early when Paul Goldschmidt hit a first-pitch, 91 MPH fastball out to left field in Busch Stadium for a one-out home run in the bottom of the first, 1-0.

It was 1-1 in the third when Strasburg gave up a leadoff single by Tommy Edman and a one-out, two-run home run to left by Nolan Arenado, who hit a 3-1 changeup out to make it 3-1 Cardinals.

A walk to Paul DeJong followed Arenado’s blast, and Matt Carpenter stepped in next and hit the third home run of the game off the Nationals’ starter, sending a 3-1 fastball to right field and off the foul pole to make it a 5-1 game.

Strasburg’s 36-pitch third left him at 67 total after three, and he gave up back-to-back hits in the first two at bats of the fourth, both singles. He loaded the bases with an intentional walk to Nolan Arenado, and got an inning-ending 6-3 DP on a Paul DeJong ground ball out to short.

An error on a liner to second, a walk, and a single loaded the bases with Cardinals with no outs in the fifth, and that was it for Strasburg...

Stephen Strasburg’s Line: 4.0 IP, 8 H, 8 R, 7 ER, 5 BB, 3 Ks, 3 HRs, 88 P, 50 S, 2/4 GO/FO.

Flaherty vs the Nationals: Jack Flaherty, the Cardinals’ 25-year-old, 2014 1st Round pick, got off to a rough start in 2021, with a 4 13-inning outing in which he gave up six hits (two home runs), two walks, and six earned runs in an 11-6 win over the Reds in which he received no decision. He followed up on that outing with six scoreless innings against the Marlins in a 7-0 win in which he allowed just one hit and four walks, while striking out six of the 22 batters he faced.

“Last game, I wasn’t really locating it,” Flaherty told reporters, as quoted by St. Louis Post-Dispatch writer Rick Hummel.

“I made it hard on myself by walking guys,” the right-hander added, “... but as the innings went on, I was able to attack more and establish my fastball and pitch off that. Everything else just played a lot better and I got into a lot better counts.”

Flaherty tossed two scoreless to start, though he had to throw 30 pitches in a long second, and a two-out RBI double in the third, off Juan Soto’s bat, scored Trea Turner from first and tied things up at 1-1 after the Cards jumped out to an early lead.

Though he was up to 47 pitches after two, Flaherty held the Nationals to one run through three on 70 pitches, and he came back out for the fourth with a 5-1 lead, and worked two more scoreless frames before he was done for the night after throwing 96 through five.

Jack Flaherty’s Line: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 Ks, 96 P, 56 S, 5/3 GO/FO.

Bullpen Action: Luis Avilán inherited a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the bottom of the fifth, taking over with Justin Williams at the plate in a lefty vs lefty matchup. Williams singled to right, 6-1. Austin Dean hit a sac fly to center, 7-1, and after a base-loading, four-pitch walk to Tommy Edman, Paul Goldschmidt drove in two more with a single to left, 9-1, and a single to left by Nolan Arenado brought in one more, 10-1. Juan Soto booted a low liner to right in the next at bat, 11-1, off Paul DeJong’s bat. And 12-1 on a sac fly by Matt Carpenter.

Two more scored on a two-out, bases-loaded single by Justin Williams, 14-1.

Right-hander Genesis Cabrera struck out two in a nine-pitch, 1-2-3 top of the sixth.

Wander Suero (in his fifth appearance in eight games) retired the Cards in order in a 10-pitch frame.

Kodi Whitley gave up a leadoff double by Kyle Schwarber, but stranded him at second three outs later.

Austin Voth worked a scoreless, 13-pitch seventh.

Whitley retired the Nationals in order in the top of the eighth.

Hernán Pérez came on to pitch the eighth, as we officially descended into position player pitching territory, and retired the side in order, striking out two in a nine-pitch frame. And he did a Max Scherzer-esque stomp around the mound after his first K...

We don’t know what to say about that. It was awesome.

Daniel Ponce de Leon came on to end it... and mercifully did, after giving up a one-out walk to Josh Bell, a single by Kyle Schwarber, and a two-run hit by Josh Harrison, 14-3, and a walk to Alex Avila. But then he finished it.

Final Score: 14-3 Cardinals

Nationals now 2-6