As they say, winning baseball games is never easy. In the boxscore, it looks like an easy 3-1 win, but in reality, the game was a nailbiter in the 8th and 9th innings. Stephen Strasburg went 7 1/3 innings of shutout baseball with 14 strikeouts and an “immaculate inning” in an electric outing for Stras. He exited with two runners on-base, and manager Dave Martinez went to bullpen.
“We talked in between innings there, and he was adamant about going back out [for the eighth inning],” Martinez said about Strasburg. “He knows he has some time off [with the All-Star break next week], but I told him, I wanted to definitely keep him at 110 pitches, and he was good. He was really good.”
To finish the eighth inning, the Nats’ manager gave the ball to Fernando Rodney to get the Nats out of the jam, and Rodney gave up a single to the first batter to load the bases in a 2-0 game then got a tailor-made doubleplay to take the game to closer Sean Doolittle who struggled and bent but did not break as he stranded the bases loaded after giving up a run to close-out the game for his team.
“Sean is very smart. He is very honest,” Martinez said. “We just have to monitor him. You want to have him for the full-year.”
After Doolittle threw 20 pitches last night and 33 pitches tonight, you have to think he will sit at least two days and maybe more.
“Grindy. I was a little tired with my recent workload,” Doolittle said. “That heat and humidity, man, kind of zapped my energy, and I was trying to pace myself and control my energy.”
The offense could not put together any scoring until the 6th inning when Brian Dozier crushed a Sandy Alcantara mistake pitch for a 2-run home run. That 2-0 score held until the bottom of the 8th inning when Matt Adams crushed an insurance run which looked big for Doolittle who had the winning runs on-base and was laboring at pitch number 33 that closed out the game.
With this win, the Nationals moved to three games over .500, and moving up on the Wild Card teams with a chance to be a Wild Card team by percentage points if the Cubs and Rockies both lose later tonight. Tomorrow’s game is an early one on July 4th with an 11:05 am start time.