Today’s game was not good. Read the regular recap to get the gritty, gruesome details, but the gist is that Stephen Strasburg struggled with the help of pretty much everyone else. It all fell apart with a Ryan Zimmerman throwing error that torpedoed Stephen Strasburg’s psyche, who tried too hard, held himself to too high a standard, and got frustrated when things went wrong. All four runs he proceeded to allow were unearned, but five consecutive batters didn’t reach base on their own. Additionally, the offense did him no favors, managing just five hits, three of which were Ian Desmond‘s. The game was over early, and it made very clear Strasburg’s need to make a change.
May 11, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond (20) is congratulated by Danny Espinosa (8) after hitting a solo home run during the fifth inning against the Chicago Cubs at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Most Important Nationals Hit: Ian Desmond’s home run (+6.6%)
Desmond kept eating #steak today. Immediately after Strasburg’s deflating top of the fifth, he took Edwin Jackson deep to reinvigorate the team after a strong contender for the lowest single moment of the 2013 season so far. He has emerged as a leader in the clubhouse, on offense, and on defense, and is one of the most integral members of this team. A long and rich extension for him should be the Nats’ #1 priority.
Most Important Nationals Pitch: Edwin Jackson’s two-run double (-26.5%)
As I said above, Strasburg had a disastrous fifth inning. He had been cruising until there were two outs, allowing just one hit and striking out seven, but the wheels came off when Zimmerman’s throwing error put a runner on first instead of ending the inning. Strasburg walked Darwin Barneyand let Jackson double to bring in two. He would allow another walks, two more hits, and two more runs before a caught stealing would bring the inning to a merciful end.
May 11, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond (20) rounds the bases past Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Edwin Jackson (36) after hitting a solo home run during the fifth inning against the Chicago Cubs at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Champ of the Game: Desmond (+13.7%) was a triple short of the cycle for a second straight day, going 3-4 with two RBIs. He is now hitting .300/.310/.550 and leads in the NL in extra-base hits. For Chicago, Jackson (+41.0%) was strong on both sides of the ball, pitching 5.1 innings and allowing only four hits with three strikeouts while going 1-2 with the aforementioned double on offense.
Chump of the Game: Strasburg (-20.7%) has been criticized enough in this post, so I won’t belabor the point. A drastically positive change is just around the corner for him. The Cubs’ Luis Valbuena (-3.1%) was 1-2, but was thrown out trying to stretch that one hit, a double, into a triple.
I've loved baseball all my life. As a kid, I went to O's games with my dad, including Cal Ripken's last game. Fortunately, the Nats came to town just as I was getting old enough to develop a fanhood. I guess I really dodged a bullet there. I was at the first game at RFK and the last, but I'll never forget the first game at Nats Park. Watching Zimmerman's walk-off soar into the night sky was a truly formative experience in my life, and is certainly one of the reasons I'm so passionate about the Nationals now. Comment on my posts or find me on twitter @NatsNation21!