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Nats 3, Braves 1: Strasburg sharp in return from DL

Jun 24, 2015, 12:09 AM EST

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GAME IN A NUTSHELL: Stephen Strasburg took the mound for the first time in 25 days, fresh off a DL stint that was as much about getting himself right mechanically as it was getting himself right physically, and quickly reminded everyone just how good he can be. Strasburg, after waiting out a 2-hour, 12-minute rain delay, tossed five scoreless innings, striking out six and generally looking like the guy who was among baseball’s better starting pitchers over the previous five seasons.

Strasburg’s teammates gave up some early run support, with Denard Span and Anthony Rendon teaming up for a first-inning run, Span driving in Michael Taylor with a third-inning RBI single and then Taylor driving in Danny Espinosa with a fourth-inning RBI base hit.

The rest was up to the Nationals’ bullpen. Tanner Roark returned from the paternity leave list to a relief role and retired all six batters he faced. Matt Thornton gave up a solo homer to Cameron Maybin in the top of the eighth, but David Carpenter pitched out of a jam to get the ball to Drew Storen, who notched his 21st save in 22 tries after loading the bases with two outs in the ninth.

Thus the Nationals won their fourth straight. Combined with the Mets’ 6-game losing streak, the Nats suddenly have opened up a 2 1/2-game lead in the NL East.

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: You knew it was just a matter of time before Rendon found his groove. This might well have been the night it happened. The young second baseman went 4-for-4, with a pair of singles to left field and a pair of singles to right field. In the process, he raised his batting average from .230 to .277. We’re still waiting for Rendon’s power stroke to come around, but that, too, will happen in time. For now, rest assured that one of the most talented young hitters in baseball is starting to come around.

PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: Could Strasburg have been better? Yeah, but really the only gripe would be his lack of efficiency. And that’s a minor nitpick on an otherwise impressive night for the right-hander. He did exactly what the Nationals wanted him to do: Command his fastball down in the zone early in the count, then elevate it with two strikes. All six of his strikeouts came on high fastballs, most registering 97 mph. Strasburg’s mechanics looked good. His demeanor was good. Everything about him was good in this game, an awfully encouraging development for the Nats.

KEY STAT: Nationals starting pitchers over the last four games have the following total line: 28.1 IP, 14H, 1 R, 4 BB, 31 K, 1 HBP.

UP NEXT: Jordan Zimmermann (5-5, 3.75) takes the mound Wednesday night, looking to keep the Nats’ string of great starting pitching going. He’ll face a tough task in Atlanta’s Shelby Miller (5-3, 1.99).

  1. manassasnatsfan - Jun 24, 2015 at 12:12 AM

    2.5 ahead of the Mets

  2. Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 24, 2015 at 12:13 AM

    Nats up 2.5 on the Mets now and 3 on the Barves.

  3. Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 24, 2015 at 12:16 AM

    “PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: Could Strasburg have been better? Yeah, but really the only gripe would be his lack of efficiency. And that’s a minor nitpick on an otherwise impressive night for the right-hander”

    You nailed it. 5 innings for a starter isn’t optimum due to his high pitch count but he put his team in the position to win which they did.

    As I pointed out, the Nats now have a 27 inning starter shutout streak going which was started by Joe Ross to end the 2nd inning on Friday, and I think that’s impressive.

    • scmargenau - Jun 24, 2015 at 12:23 AM

      Any idea what the record is?

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 24, 2015 at 12:30 AM

        Good question. Someone just said in the presser 26 innings but I count 27 as Ross went from 1 out in the 2nd after he gave up a run to 1 out in the 8th of shutout ball. Scherzer 9 makes 15. Gio then had 7 which makes 22 and Stras had 5 making 27.

        I think I added that correctly.

        Here’s Ross’s out by out chart on Friday.

        http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/WSN/2015.shtml

      • adcwonk - Jun 24, 2015 at 12:32 AM

        Mr Wikipedia says that the 1903 Pirates threw 56 straight scoreless innings.

        I’d prefer to see a more modern record.

        Since 2000, only one team, the Twins, threw three straight shutouts (July 5-7, 2004), but one would have to look at the boxscores (as well as the game before and after) to see how many IP by starting pitchers.

        I also found this comment on a B-R page:

        Pretty amazing to see the 1969 Phillies as one of only four teams to throw four consecutive complete-game shutouts. That team lost 99 games and posted the third-worst team ERA in the NL, ahead of only the expansion Expos and Padres. The four Phillies starters: Jerry Johnson, Woodie Fryman, Grant Jackson, and Rick Wise.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 24, 2015 at 12:43 AM

        Wonk, good stuff but we wonder what the starter’s scoreless record is since the bullpen has given up the only runs since the 1st out in the 2nd inning of Friday’s game.

        56 consecutive scoreless innings by 1 team is incredible.

      • adcwonk - Jun 24, 2015 at 12:47 AM

        I misread the sources — all those *were* starters, because I was on a page of “complete game shutouts”.

        And so the 1969 Phillies I mentioned had four straight CG shutouts, so that’s 36 innings (unless shortened by rain), plus whatever might have been leftover in the game before or after the streak.

  4. adcwonk - Jun 24, 2015 at 12:25 AM

    All six of his strikeouts came on high fastballs,

    At least one of the early K’s came on a fastball that looked like it was down the pipe, and then darted slightly over the inside of the plate.

  5. scmargenau - Jun 24, 2015 at 12:25 AM

    Ask Matt about Rendon seeming gimpy!!!

    • manassasnatsfan - Jun 24, 2015 at 12:29 AM

      He had a strain the other day, still working it out, but didn’t effect hitting.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 24, 2015 at 12:31 AM

        It sure affected his running and his fielding. He has to get that Markakis grounder in the 8th.

  6. Joe Seamhead - Jun 24, 2015 at 12:33 AM

    Another solid night for Michael A Taylor. Over his last 10 games Taylor has had 40 PA and only 6 K’s. Progress. He has also raised his BA to a near respectable .249 to go along with some fine defensive plays.

    • adcwonk - Jun 24, 2015 at 12:44 AM

      Indeed. Consider this!

      Over his first 34 games, he hit .214, with a K rate of 37%
      Over his last 22 games, he’s hit .293 with a K rate is 23%

      That sure is progress!

  7. Drew - Jun 24, 2015 at 12:44 AM

    Speaking of pitchers’ happy returns:

    Young Erick Fedde is pitching in games after his long TJ rehab.

    Looks like he threw 3 innings Sunday in a start for the short-season Auburn Doubledays. He gave up 1 run and struck out 4.

    • jd - Jun 24, 2015 at 8:29 AM

      All things being equal he won’t be in Auburn long. I see him in Potomac with Giolito and Lopez withijn a month.

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