The Nationals needed a salvage win today to avoid being swept and that would take a dominant pitching performance from Stephen Strasburg. Both were accomplished and Strasburg did not have a good pitching performance — he had a great pitching performance. He threw an 8 inning shutout while receiving 5 runs in support with two home runs from Ryan Zimmerman and one by Brian Dozier. The ninth inning got a little stressful with 2 outs but that is the Nats we have come to know. The game was closed out by Kyle Barraclough and one out from Sean Doolittle in this 5-0 win. The Nats are back to .500 and now fly to Colorado for a 3 game series.
Except for the first inning, Strasburg cruised through this start only giving up 2 hits on 104 pitches with 11 strikeouts on his way to become the Nats record-holder for most innings pitched (1,260 1/3) in the team’s 14 year history since arriving from Montreal in 2005. Strasburg surpassed his former teammate, Gio Gonzalez, for that record.
“Outstanding. That’s the word I could describe what he did today,” manager Dave Martinez said about Strasburg. “That was an unbelievable pick-me-up. … He kept the ball down for the most part today. The changeup was really good. He was throwing his curveball for strikes. His fastball was located really good. It opens up both sides of the plate for him.”
After a 9-run outburst last night from the struggling Marlins offense, Strasburg just shutdown the batters while keeping them off-balance with his changeup and curveball while using his fastball for change of speed. The shadows in the stadium helped the pitchers on this day, but that cannot be used as an excuse for the Marlins being blanked because the Nationals batters faced the same shadows in the stadium and scored 5 runs. This was the second day in a row that the roof remained open at Marlins Park with an announced attendance of just over 7,000 fans who showed up today. Based on the cheers when Ryan Zimmerman homered, there had to be a large number of Nats fans in attendance.
“Their guy had some good stuff today. Really good changeup,” Zimmerman said. “We had to really work him and try to get him to make some mistakes. And he made a couple mistakes and we took advantage of it.”
For two of the struggling Nats batters, for some reason manager Dave Martinez inserted Ryan Zimmerman in the starting lineup over Matt Adams. Zimmerman responded with 2 home runs and he now has 999 career RBIs. Brian Dozier had one home run and walk in the game. While Dozier pushed his batting average to .177, Zimmerman got over Mendoza to .203 with his 2 hits today. The Nationals played without Anthony Rendon who is nursing a sore elbow after he was hit by a pitch last night. Howie Kendrick filled in well at 3rd base and flashed some leather and a big sacrifice fly to add a run.
In final games of series this season, the Nationals have now won 6 of 7 games. If they could only have that success in first games of series, this team would really roll.