The first inning almost knocked out Stephen Strasburg who had to work out of trouble and a 30-pitch first inning in which he only gave up one-run to survive and thrive in this game. After that, Strasburg rolled and was the offensive star of the game also. In the third inning, Strasburg led off with a single and scored the Nats first run on an Adam Eaton triple. The Nationals batted around in that third inning which was highlighted by a Strasburg 420 foot 3-run home run that exited his bat at 105 mph. That smash put the Nats up 8-1 in a game that finished up with a 13-4 win in which all starters contributed with the offense. Strasburg finished with 3-hits and 5 RBIs to lead the offense. How many times does a pitcher drive in more runs than he gave up? More importantly, with this win, the Nationals have pulled to within 5.5 games of the first place Braves.
“Our pitchers work to hit and bunt,” manager Dave Martinez said. “Those things help. He made hard contact. He swung the bat really well. I figured with all of the running around he did that he was gassed.”
Strasburg was gassed and pulled at 106 pitches in only 5 1/3 innings. With the large lead, the Nationals got to rest five of their hard-worked bullpen arms in this blowout, and Matt Grace, Tanner Rainey and Kyle McGowin mopped up the remaining 3 2/3 innings giving up only one-run. For Rainey, he missed an immaculate inning by one pitch as he mowed down Ronald Acuna, Matt Joyce and Freddie Freeman on strikeouts. It was Rainey’s best inning of his career as he darted in fastballs with a mix of sliders. Strasburg struck-out 7 Braves batters, and the Braves pitchers never struck him out in his perfect 3-3 night with the bat.
“That’s just how crazy this game is,” Strasburg said of the home run he smashed. “Obviously my focus is going out there and trying to keep the other team at bay. Sometimes you just run into the ball. I’ve always been told that a swinging bat is a dangerous one — I was just able to connect on some. … I don’t try to do too much out there. I just try to see some pitches. Hopefully spit on some off-speed. Get the bunt down when I need to. Try to keep it simple.”
At SunTrust Park, it was a late arriving crowd of 39,363 fans who were celebrating early, but after that third inning the stadium went quiet and the crowd left early, and it was the Nats dugout celebrating and even Stephen Strasburg was dancing.
“To be honest, it was pretty nervewracking,” Strasburg said about his dugout home run dance. “I didn’t really have anything. I’m not a big dancer to begin with.”
Don’t expect to see the introverted Strasburg on “Dancing With The Stars” but he showed he was a good teammate when he partaked in what is now a requisite dance after a home run.
Need to see to believe. #StrasburgDancing #OnePursuit pic.twitter.com/olnW9wHtHD
— Carol Maloney (@carolmaloney4) July 19, 2019
One thing about the feisty Strasburg, he stays engaged no matter what the score is and after the fourth inning he barked at either a teammate or the first base umpire because a doubleplay was not turned.
Even in a win, there was plenty that did not go according to plan, and that’s baseball. Strasburg is a perfectionist, and he is his own worst critic.
The Braves are now mired in a three-game losing streak. You could sense their frustration as they had Strasburg on the ropes in the first inning, but could not knock him out. One of the strange moves was that the Braves inserted the struggling rookie Kyle Wright into this game for a spot start instead of sticking with Julio Teheran who they moved to tomorrow. The probable starters for tomorrow is Patrick Corbin against Teheran in the Friday night game.