This afternoon, Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg took the next step in making his return to the starting rotation. After throwing 60 pitches in a simulated game on Friday in Milwaukee, the 26-year-old right-hander made a rehab start this afternoon for double-A Harrisburg against the Richmond Flying Squirrels (San Francisco Giants). While the Senators would lose 4-3, Strasburg still put together a strong effort.
Strasburg, who is recovering from a left trap strain, went five innings, gave up two runs (one earned) on four hits, struck out six, and walked one on 71 pitches (48 strikes). His curveball was sharp and he had the same velocity on his fastball (95-97 miles per hour) that he had before he got hurt in a start against the Cincinnati Reds on May 29.
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After retiring the first seven Richmond hitters he faced, Strasburg gave up a one-out single to left to Jackson Williams. Later in the inning, Kelby Tomlinson would hit a ball to right center that went off the glove of Derrick Robinson. With two outs, pitcher Adalberto Mejia, who reached on a bunt earlier in the inning, was running all the way and scored to give Richmond a 1-0 lead.
One inning later, the Flying Squirrels would take a 2-0 lead when Mitch Delfino hit a single to center field that scored Devin Harris, who reached on an error by third baseman Matt Skole to begin the inning. Strasburg would strike out Williams swinging with runners on second and third to end the scoring threat there.
Strasburg’s rehab start was the focus of the day, but the focus of the last couple of days has been new shortstop Trea Turner, who joined the Senators Sunday after the trade with the San Diego Padres this winter was made official. After going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts last night, Turner hit a single to left center and stole second base in the first inning.
The Senators got on the board in the bottom of the fourth when second baseman Cutter Dysktra hit a solo shot to left field. Dykstra’s first home run of the season cut the Richmond lead to 2-1.
After Strasburg left the game, Colin Bates would come in to pitch the next two innings. In the bottom of the sixth, Ricky Oropesa hit a solo shot to right center to extend the lead to 3-1. The lead became 4-1 in the following inning when Angel Villalona hit a sacrifice fly to right field, which scored Engel Beltre.
The Senators would come back and cut the deficit to one in the bottom of the inning when Turner hit a bloop single to center field on a 1-2 pitch that allowed Brian Jeroloman and Robinson to score, cutting the deficit to 4-3. Turner would steal second for the second time, but was left stranded on base along with Skole when Drew Vettleson grounded out to the pitcher to end the inning.
Harrisburg would come close to winning the game in the bottom of the ninth. With two outs, Turner would hit a double to left center for his second hit of the day. Jose Lozada, who was on first with a one-out walk, was held up at third base because the ball was not hit deep enough. The 21-year-old shortstop went 3-for-5 on the day with two RBI’s and two stolen bases. However, Skole would ground out to short to end the game, leaving the tying and winning runs on base.
Harrisburg (27-37) will look to avoid the sweep tomorrow night at 7:05 PM ET against Richmond (34-28). Matthew Spann (1-0, 0.92) gets the start for the Senators against Tyler Beede (1-0, 1.38) for the Flying Squirrels.