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Washington Nationals drop both ends of twin bill with Atlanta Braves, 2-0 final in nightcap

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Stephen Strasburg and Huascar Ynoa held opposing hitters off the board, but the Nationals’ bullpen cracked first in a 2-0 loss to the Braves.

Atlanta Braves v Washington Nationals Game 2 Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Stephen Strasburg, 32, and Huascar Ynoa, 22, had themselves an old-fashioned, (though seven-inning), pitchers’ duel in this afternoon’s so-called “nightcap” of the doubleheader between the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves.

Strasburg tossed six scoreless on 85 pitches, giving up just one hit, while Ynoa finished five scoreless in the nation’s capital, on 68 pitches, with just two hits allowed.

This one was decided in the bullpens. The Braves’ put up zeroes. Tanner Rainey gave up a two-out, two-run home run to center by Pablo Sandoval which gave the Braves a 2-0 lead and eventually a sweep of the twin bill today in D.C. and 2 of 3 from the Nationals in their first series of the season.

Strasburg’s Back: Stephen Strasburg’s 2020 campaign ended after just two starts and five innings pitched, with carpal tunnel neuritis shutting him down, and surgery taking him out of action for the rest of the summer.

But he rehabbed, came to camp healthy, battled through a calf issue, and returned to the mound today for his 2021 debut.

After his last outing in Grapefruit League action late last month, the 2009 No. 1 overall pick told reporters he was pretty much ready for the regular season, but there were a couple of things he wanted to concentrate on going into his first outing.

“It’s really just consistency, being able to make the adjustment faster going from one pitch to the next instead of taking three pitches to kind of lock it back in,” he explained.

Strasburg tossed two scoreless innings on 23 pitches to start the second game of today’s doubleheader, and struck out back-to-back batters in the top of the third before issuing a pair of walks to Ronald Acuña, Jr. and Ozzie Albies in front of Freddie Freeman, who hit an easy pop fly to center to end a 20-pitch frame.

After retiring the Braves in order in the fourth and fifth innings, Strasburg was up to 69 total pitches, and six Ks from 18 batters faced, and he came back out for the sixth and picked up two more strikeouts and a grounder to first for 10-straight outs to end his appearance.

Stephen Strasburg’s Line: 6.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 8 Ks, 85 P, 48 S, 4/5 GO/FO.

Ynoa’s Turn: Huascar Ynoa didn’t give up much to the first eight batters he faced today, just a two-out single by Juan Soto in the first, but Stephen Strasburg lined a 95 MPH 3-2 fastball to right-center in the bottom of the third, then Victor Robles walked in front of Trea Turner, who sent a grounder to second to start an inning-ending 4-6-3 DP which ended the Braves’ starter’s third scoreless.

Ynoa’s 14-pitch, 1-2-3 fourth left him at 57 pitches overall, and the 22-year-old right-hander, acquired in a 2017 trade with the Minnesota Twins, returned to the mound in the fifth and retired the side in order, striking out two in an 11-pitch frame.

Ynoa’s Line: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 Ks, 68 P, 44 S, 6/2 GO/FO.

Bullpen Action: Luke Jackson was the first pitcher out of the pen, taking over in the bottom of the sixth and walking Victor Robles with one down. Robles stole second base on a ball in the dirt that got away from Braves’ catcher Alex Jackson, and took third on a fly to right field off of Trea Turner’s bat, but he was stranded (after an intentional walk to Juan Soto), when Starlin Castro grounded out to end the threat.

Tanner Rainey got two quick outs in the top of the seventh, but a two-out single by Dansby Swanson kept the Braves’ inning alive, and Pablo Sandoval homered in the next at bat, on a 96 MPH 3-2 fastball Rainey that went out to center for a 2-0 lead.

Sean Newcomb came on to close it out and struck out the side to end it.

Final Score: 2-0 Braves

Nationals now 1-2