Stephen Strasburg took the mound Friday night against the Colorado Rockies “enjoying” the second worst run support in the major league. Strasburg got the same treatment from his weak hitting teammates again, but the Nats managed to eke out a 2-1 win against the Rockies and Strasburg got the win.
As expected, this game was a pitcher’s duel. The Rockies sent one of their best pitchers to the mound against Strasburg. Tyler Chatwood brought his 2.33 ERA and 4-1 record to the park, and he was on his game, as was Strasburg.
The Rockies struck first against Strasburg in the third inning. Strasburg grazed Josh Rutledge in the third inning with a pitch to put him on. Chatwood sacrificed Rutledge to second. Strasburg struck out Dexter Fowler for the second out. DJ LeMahieu singled to left, and moved to second on the throw home from Steve Lombardozzi, which was way off line and not close to getting Rutledge at home. The Rockies led 1-0.
Tyler Chatwood held the Nats at bay until the sixth inning. After both Strasburg and Denard Span grounded out, Anthony Rendon singled. Ryan Zimmerman doubled, scoring Rendon. Chatwood issued an intentional walk to Adam LaRoche and then got Jayson Werth to fly out.
The score was all even. Strasburg pitched the seventh and kept Colorado from scoring again. With two outs, Rutledge doubled. After the double Strasburg was stretching his back on the mound, which caused the Nats brain trust to run out to check on him. Strasburg was waving them back to the dugout immediately, and after a brief conference, he continued with the inning. Chatwood was due up, and the Rockies elected to pinch hit for him with Tyler Colvin. Colvin had burned Dan Haren for two home runs in their prior meeting. Unfortunately for the Rockies, Haren was not pitching. Colvin hit a tricky foul popup to left, and Zimmerman made a terrific over the shoulder basket catch of the ball for the third out.
With Chatwood out of the game, the crowd hoped that the Nats could take advantage of the Rockies bullpen. That was going to be tough against reliever Manny Corpas, who was sporting an ERA of 1.23 when he started the seventh inning. After facing Ian Desmond, his ERA inflated to 2.00. Desmond hit a home run to center and the submarine horn blared as the crowd celebrated the Nats first lead of the evening.
Now the Nats needed to make that slim lead hold up. Drew Storen was called upon to pitch the eighth inning, which certainly was interesting. Storen walked Fowler to start the inning. LeMahieu attempted to bunt Fowler to second, but he popped the bunt up. Storen caught the bunt, then fired to ball to LaRoche for what could have been a double play. Storen misfired the ball to LaRoche, and Fowler ended up on second anyway. Storen bore down and got two of the Rockies best hitters, Carlos Gonzalez and Michael Cuddyer, to strike out to get out of the jam with the Nats lead intact.
Rafael Soriano pitched the ninth inning and got his 19th save, but there was nail biting for the Nats fans until the very end. Soriano struck out Wilin Rosario and then allowed a single to Todd Helton. The Rockies inserted speedy Johnathan Herrera to pinch run for Helton. Next batter Nolan Arenado popped a foul ball to right, which should have been caught by Anthony Rendon, but he dropped it. Arenado had new life, but Soriano got him to fly out to right. Rutledge grounded out and the Nats could celebrate the win.
Denard Span was limping off the field after the game, his bruised foot obviously bothering him.
Ryan Zimmerman had a good overall game, making a great play on a wicked hard hit ball by Helton, the great catch on the foul ball, and driving in Rendon for the Nats first run. Rendon continued hitting well, going 2-4.
Strasburg pitched seven innings, giving up five hits, one earned run and striking out nine. That kind of performance deserved a win, and for once Strasburg got one.
Next Game: Saturday June 22nd at 12:05 EST at Nationals Park. Jhoulys Chacin (5-3, 4.26 ERA) is scheduled to pitch for Colorado, and Dan Haren (4-8, 5.72 ERA) is to pitch for the Nationals. If you are going to today’s game, check out the Mile High Burger at Taste of the Majors. It’s truly a big, messy treat if you are a burger fan.