In his second career start, Stephen Strasburg (2-0) defeated David Huff (2-8) and the Indians on Sunday in Cleveland by a score of 9-4. The Nationals are now 31-33 and sit in last place in the competitive NL East, 6 games behind the division leading Braves.
Despite striking out 8 and allowing only 2 hits in 5.1 innings, Strasburg had some issues with his command in the latter part of the afternoon. Strasburg walked 5 batters, all coming in the 4th, 5th, and 6th innings. It’s easy to blame the mound for his lack on control, as he and David Huff were using the same “landing spot”, but this is something Strasburg will just have to get used to, he has the talent to overcome an issue like that. Strasburg’s day ended after giving up a single to Carlos Santana, and consecutive walks to Travis Hafner and Austin Kearns, putting his replacement, Drew Storen, in a bases loaded jam with one out to work with. Thankfully, Storen brought the heat and answered the call beautifully getting Russell Branyan to pop out to second on a full count, then getting Jhonny Peralta to swing and miss at a 96 MPH fastball, putting an end to the nerve wracking inning.
In the end, it was another very impressive outing for Strasburg, who proved today that his 14-strikeout game against Pittsburgh was no fluke. His next start will likely be against the White Sox for a weekend series in DC, so start getting your tickets now before its too late.
The Nationals put the game away in the 6th inning with a 2 out rally in which they scored 4 runs. After two consecutive flyouts to right by Nyjer Morgan and Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Dunn drew a four-pitch walk against Huff…the ultimate sin in baseball. After a Josh Willingham double moved Dunn to third, Ivan “Pudge” Rodriquez followed with a double of his own, scoring both Dunn and Willingham. Huff’s struggles continued as he then walked Mike Morse on five pitches, Morse would be his final batter of the afternoon. Frank Herrmann came in to replace Huff with runners on first and second and 2 outs against Ian Desmond, who put the nail in the coffin with a two run triple on Herrmann’s second pitch of the afternoon, giving the Nats a commanding 6-1 lead.
Washington put up three more runs in the 8th thanks to a two run Roger Bernadina home run and a run scoring double by Alberto Gonzalez, pushing the score to 9-1. With a lead this big, it can be easy for pitchers to lose focus, and that is exactly what happened to Miguel Batista, who was called on to get the last three outs, but instead let up 4 hits, 1 walk, and 3 runs in a third of an inning. These were the first runs Batista has given up since May 13, but you would have liked to see him come in and shut the door quickly in a game that was over innings earlier.
Interleague play rolls on with Washington traveling to Detroit for a three game set with the Tigers beginning Tuesday. Game 1 will feature John Lannan (2-3, 5.00) against the hard throwing Max Scherzer (2-6, 6.30).