The Nats took the field tonight with a 70-day burden off of their shoulders. Stephen Strasburg was under contract, and for the first time perhaps all season; the most important Nationals were wearing uniforms.
The club went up tonight against the future of the Rockies pitching staff, Ubaldo Jimenez.
“U-Ball “as they call him has really found himself as he mastered his control in May posting a 2.88 ERA with 34 strikeouts to nine walks. As a result the 25-year-old now has moved from being a mid-level starter, into an ace in the making. He is 11-9 on the season for the Rockies with a 3.47 ERA and 140 strikeouts to 63 walks.
U-Ball shut down the Nats tonight, scattering seven hits over eight innings. The flamethrower allowed two earned runs and struck out five.
Despite Jimenez’s presence on the mound, the Nationals were able to keep the game close for the majority of the game. The club got out to an early lead in the second when pitcher Craig Stammen slapped a double to right scoring Alberto Gonzalez. Nyjer Morgan then singled in Wil Nieves, giving the Nats an early 2-1 lead.
Craig Stammen provided a quality start for the Nationals that allowed them to stay in the game. He pitched 5.1 innings allowing only four hits. Stammen left the game in the sixth after surrendering the game tying run on a Brad Hawpe fielder’s choice.
The tie was broken in the eighth when Sean Burnett surrendered a solo home run to Rockies leadoff hitter Carlos Gonzalez. It was Gonzalez’s seventh shot of the year.
After the Nats went scoreless in the bottom half of the 8th, Tyler Clippard allowed another solo shot to second basemen Clint Barmes to increase the deficit 4-2.
The Nationals began to rally in the bottom of the 9th and put a run on the board with a Cristian Guzman single that scored Ronnie Belliard and put speed demon Nyjer Morgan at third base as the potential go ahead run. However, that’s as far as Morgan would get as Mr. National Ryan Zimmerman flied out to left.
The Nats lost 4-3 in a tight battle. The win kept the Rockies one game ahead of the San Francisco Giants.
For those of you who aren’t tired of Strasburg news yet:
(Poll from ESPN’s SportsNation)