As the Washington Nationals (95-66) prepare for the playoffs, presumptive Game 1 starter Stephen Strasburg dominated the Miami Marlins (77-84) over six innings, allowing no runs in an eventual 5-1 win.
Strasburg (W, 14-11) was at his absolute best, stymying the Marlins throughout his outing. The Miami bats found no purchase against his devastating pitches, including his fastball that scraped 98, his 12-6 curveball, and his changeup that fooled the most discerning of eyes. In six innings, he gave up no runs on two hits and one walk while striking out seven.
He ends the year with 242 punchouts, a total that leads the National League. He will maintain at least a tie for the league lead unless Cincinnati’s Johnny Cueto can strike out eight or more batters tomorrow. He also lowers his final ERA to a tidy 3.14.
On offense, it was business as usual for the Nats. Strasburg earned his third RBI of the year on a second-inning sacrifice that scored Bryce Harper from third. Adam LaRoche scored another run with a bases-loaded groundout in the fifth. But the Nationals didn’t break out until the eighth, when Asdrubal Cabrera clocked a bases-clearing double that turned a slim 2-0 lead into a colossal 5-0 one.
The night’s other offensive storyline was the Denard Span. By his lofty standards it was not notable: he was 2-for-3 with a pair of singles. But the two hits helped the center fielder set three important marks. The knocks were his 182nd and 183rd of the year, tying the team record for hits in a season that was originally set by Cristian Guzman in 2008. The game was also his 58th multi-hit effort of the season, breaking a tie he had with Guzman for the record at 57.
Third, and not least important, the hits pushed him to a .301 batting average from .299. He can now safely play the first half of the Nationals’ final game of the year without worrying about his batting average. In fact, he can go 0-for-3 and still be hitting .300, so he should have two or three shots at setting the team hits record.
Anyway, back to the game, insignificant though it may have been. Drew Storen had some trouble in the ninth, giving up a pair of singles and then an unearned run on two errors, but he escaped too much incident in locking down the Nationals’ 95th win of the year. With the best record in the NL wrapped up, the Nats simply await the winner of the NL Wild Card game, which could be the San Francisco Giants, the Pittsburgh Pirates, or the St. Louis Cardinals.