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Washington Nationals 4-2 over Baltimore Orioles: Stephen Strasburg returns with 5 1⁄3 scoreless vs the O’s...

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Stephen Strasburg returned. Josh Bell and Kyle Schwarber got the offensive going. Nationals 4-2 over the Orioles.

Baltimore Orioles v Washington Nationals Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

Stephen Strasburg tossed 5 13 scoreless in his return to the rotation, after a month-plus on the IL dealing with right shoulder inflammation, and the Washington Nationals scored two runs in the fifth and added one in the sixth to jump out to a 3-0 lead on Baltimore’s Orioles in the first of three in D.C. Final Score: 4-2 Nationals.

Strasburg vs the O’s: Coming off a disappointing 2020 campaign which ended when he had to undergo surgery for carpal tunnel neuritis, Stephen Strasburg’s 2021 season got off to a good start with six scoreless innings on the mound against Atlanta in which he gave up just one hit, but after a rough start in St. Louis, the ‘09 No. 1 overall pick ended up back on the IL with inflammation in his right shoulder.

Over a month later, Strasburg got the nod for tonight’s series opener with the Orioles, and the 32-year-old right-hander came out strong, with three scoreless innings, giving up just one hit and a walk.

Strasburg needed just 43 pitches through four. How far he would go was left up in the air by his manager when Davey Martinez talked to reporters before tonight’s game.

“I don’t want to put any limitation on him,” Martinez said. “He’s going to go out there ... and get as many outs as he can and hopefully keep us in the ballgame.”

A 19-pitch fifth in which he worked around leadoff and two-out walks, left Strasburg at 62 pitches, and while the club was busy putting up the first runs of the game for either team, reliever Kyle Finnegan started warming in the bullpen...

Strasburg came back out in the sixth though, with a 2-0 lead, but after a one-out walk, the Nationals went to the pen for Finnegan...

Stephen Strasburg’s Line: 5.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 4 Ks, 72 P, 39 S, 8/3 GO/FO.

López vs the Nats: Orioles’ righty Jorge López was selected off waivers from the Kansas City Royals last August, and he was pressed into service right away with Baltimore, coming on in relief of John Means in an August 16th start in OPACY, when Means gave up a walk, four hits, and three runs in the first inning of what ended up a 6-5 loss to the Nationals.

López gave up three hits and two runs in four innings of work in that game, and in nine games (six starts) that followed, the 28-year-old right-hander put up a 6.34 ERA and a .287/.345/.453 line against in 38 13 IP.

Through eight starts and 34 IP this year, the O’s starter had a 6.35 ERA and .263/.344/.459 line against heading into tonight’s outing.

On the mound in Nationals Park, López tossed three scoreless innings on 48 total pitches, working around a walk and two hits, and he worked around a leadoff double and back-to-back, two-out walks, one intentional and one unintentional, for a scoreless, 18-pitch fourth that left him at 66 total.

Josh Bell doubled with two down in the bottom of the fifth, however, and Kyle Schwarber followed up with his own two-base hit, on back-to-back first pitches, with Bell coming in for the first run of the game for either team on Schwarber’s eighth two-bagger of 2021, 1-0.

Schwarber took a base, moving up to third on a swinging bunt by Starlin Castro, and scored on a line drive to center by Josh Harrison, 2-0 after five.

Jorge López’s Line: 5.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 8 Ks, 72 P, 39 S, 5/0 GO/FO.

Bell and Kyle: Coming into tonight’s game, the Nationals’ two big offensive acquisitions were heating up, with Josh Bell 8 for 26 (.320 AVG) with a double, two home runs, three walks, and six runs scored over his last seven games, and Kyle Schwarber 9 for 30 (.300 AVG) with four home runs, six walks, and five runs scored in his last eight.

Back-to-back doubles by the middle-of-the-order bats brought in the first run of the game for the Nationals tonight, with Bell (6) lining a first-pitch curve from O’s starter Jorge López to right with two out in the sixth, before Schwarber (8) lined a second straight curve to the same field to bring Bell in.

Bullpen Action: Kyle Finnegan took over for the Nationals with a runner (Austin Hays) over on first and one out in the top of the sixth, and gave up a line drive to right by Trey Mancini, but the runner, Hays, hesitated around third, then took off when Juan Soto’s throw in sailed over the cutoff man Josh Harrison’s head, but Josh Bell sort of Jeter’d it and caught the ball on the run, threw home, and got the out, 9-3-2 putout when Yan Gomes applied the tag. Still 2-0 Nats. A swinging K for Finnegan ended the sixth.

Righty Tyler Wells took over for the O’s in the bottom of the sixth, and gave up a leadoff hit by Yadiel Hernández, who moved up on a bunt by Andrew Stevenson, and scored one out later on a Juan Soto fly to short-center, 3-0.

Wander Suero retired the O’s in order in an efficient, nine-pitch top of the seventh.

Wells retired the Nationals in order the bottom of the seventh.

Daniel Hudson retired the side in a nine-pitch eighth.

Ryan Zimmerman singled to start the Nationals’ eighth, and scored two outs later on a Josh Bell single to right field, 4-0.

Brad Hand came on in a non-save situation and gave up a one-out double by Trey Mancini and a two-out, two-run home run by Freddy Galvis, 4-2, before closing out the frame.

Ballgame.

Final Score: 4-2 Nationals

Nationals now 18-23