For the first time since July 4, Washington Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg was on the mound last night, but it wasn’t with the big league club. Instead, he made his first rehab start with the triple-A Syracuse Chiefs as they hosted the Buffalo Bison (Toronto Blue Jays). Syracuse would lose the game 8-5, but all the talk after the game was about Strasburg.
The 27-year-old right-hander, who is trying to come back from an oblique injury, went four innings, gave up three runs on four hits, struck out five, and walked one on 64 pitches (44 strikes). Coming into this game, he had a limit of four innings or 65 pitches, whichever one came first. You would think Strasburg would make one more start before returning to the big league club so he can build his pitch count up. Here’s what the pitcher had to say about his outing last night:
"“I feel good, I feel ready to compete,” Strasburg said. “But there’s always kind of this system that’s in place that they want you to follow. So I’m going to let them make the decisions and I’m just going to keep working and keep trying to get better.” (h/t Lindsay Kramer, Syracuse.com)"
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Early on in the game, Strasburg was hitting 97 miles per hour with his fastball and was in control, but the only inning he struggled was the second inning. Strasburg did strike out two straight hitters after giving up back-to-back singles. However, catcher Steven LeRud had a passed ball and then Strasburg balked, which allowed the first run to score. Then, Jonathan Diaz hit a base hit to right that drove in two runs to give Buffalo a 3-0 lead.
As for the rest of the game, the Chiefs got on the board in the bottom of the fourth inning when Matt Skole hit a solo home run to right for his first triple-A home run. A.J. Cole would give up two more runs in relief of Strasburg in the fifth when Matt Hague hit a two-run single to left that scored Diaz and Andy Burns to extend the lead to 5-1.
The Chiefs would score two more runs in the bottom of the sixth on back-to-back RBI singles by Tony Gwynn Jr. and Caleb Ramsey to cut the lead to 5-3. However, the Bison would come right back with two more runs in the top of the seventh. An RBI double by Dalton Pompey and a RBI single by Burns gave Buffalo a 7-3 lead.
After Buffalo tacked on one more run in the ninth inning on yet another RBI single by Burns, Joba Chamberlain, who recently signed a minor league contract with the Toronto Blue Jays, came in to pitch the bottom of the ninth. Despite a two-out walk to Jason Martinson, Chamberlain would strike out Keyes swinging to end the game and pick up the save.