The Washington Nationals were shut-out on a combined 2-hitter tonight and lost 4-to-0, but it was a one-run game through 6 2/3 innings. Stephen Strasburg threw 107 pitches on this night and gave up 2 solo home runs. One of the home runs was given up in the 7th inning when he was pitching on fumes after darting 28 max-effort pitches in the prior frame. We can debate whether Strasburg should have hit the showers after he allowed bases loaded in the 6th inning then worked his magic and struck out 3 in a row to keep it at a 1-to-0 game. Carlos Torres made his Nationals debut and quickly put the game out of reach after he served up a 2-run home run for the final score of 4-to-0.
You will never win a game when you can’t score, and that was the ultimate takeaway in this game. The Nationals had their chances even though they only had 2-hits as we saw when they loaded the bases in the 3rd inning and could not score. Ryu baffled the Nats hitters most of the night and Matt Wieters, Michael Taylor, and Wilmer Difo combined for 6 strikeouts.
“That one inning, when I got on base and he walked Harp and Zim, that was kind of our best shot,” Trea Turner said. “But for the most part, [Ryu] was kind of comfortable and cruising. He was tough to square up so if you can get somebody on base or walk — I think that’s kind of how you get him out of his rhythm.”
Oh….that one inning. Let us reminisce about loaded the bases and doing nothing with it.
The real story was about Stephen Strasburg and the fire inside of him that wants to be the best and when he makes a pitch he expects his defense will be positioned perfected to field it. Unfortunately nobody could field the two home run balls which could have been part of what frustrated Strasburg along with that “L”.
Strasburg was lighting up the radar gun tonight and reaching-back for velo he has not reached in years. Strasburg hit triple-digits at 100 mph and averaged 98.1 mph on his 4-seam fastball.
The last time Strasburg lit up the radar gun like this was on June 2nd of 2012. His max velo on that day was 99.8 mph and Davey Johnson was wise enough to relieve him after 90 pitches of max effort pitching. Sometimes a manager has to learn the lesson that they must save the player from themselves. One attribute that top athletes share is the will to compete and never surrender — it is the coaches job to just say “no” and sometimes “HELL NO”.
Between the 5th and 6th innings, Strasburg threw 51 pitches which was 12 pitches more than Stras accumulated in the first 4-innings of his outing. Given Strasburg’s injury history, err on the side of caution, and yes, maybe you lose that particular game — but in the end, the ultimate goal is to win the war. In the battle of attrition, every successful marathoner knows that pacing is the key to finishing the race. These are all lessons for Strasburg and Dave Martinez. Last night was just one loss over a 162 game season. The Nats are only halfway to reaching the quarter pole. There is a long way to go in this one as the Nats tread water until they can shore up as this marathon is more like a team relay missing 4 key runners.