Washington Nationals: Stephen Strasburg dominates in series-clinching win
By Drew Douglas
Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg dominated the Atlanta Braves for eight innings, en route to a 4-1 Nats win.
On Monday night, Washington Nationals‘ ace Max Scherzer ended the team’s losing streak with a gem that would be near-impossible to top. The next night, Stephen Strasburg almost did just that.
Following Scherzer’s dominant outing, Strasburg pitched eight scoreless innings, allowing just three hits. He did not top Scherzer’s gem, but he came incredibly close to matching it.
As a matter of fact, their starts were nearly identical. Scherzer allowed two hits with ten strikeouts over nine shutout innings. Strasburg, on the other hand, allowed three hits with eight strikeouts over eight shutout innings.
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Even their offensive performances were similar. Scherzer went 1-for-4 with a stolen base and Strasburg went 1-for-1 with a walk. While Strasburg did not steal a base, he did reach reach base one more time than Scherzer and a run scored on his bunt.
While the Nats were scuffling throughout their five-game losing streak, the relief corps struggled. However, Scherzer and Strasburg have now given them two games with minimal work.
Sean Doolittle warmed up in the ninth inning of Scherzer’s start, and Sammy Solis and Ryan Madson combined to throw an inning in Strasburg’s start. For a bullpen that was running on fumes, this has been a godsend.
The bullpen may also have a long day on Wednesday. A.J. Cole, who lasted less than four innings in his season debut, will get the nod for the Nats.
In addition to phenomenal pitching, the Nats benefitted from Ryan Zimmerman‘s big night.
Zimmerman, who was hitting .097 entering the game, moved down to fifth in the lineup. The move paid off, as Zimmerman hit a two-RBI triple in his first at-bat. The triple was his only hit of the night, but he hit a few balls hard and looked like a much-improved hitter.
Kevin Long has been working with Zimmerman to turn things around, and tonight was a fantastic start.
Along with his big night at the plate, Zimmerman had a nice game defensively. Wilmer Difo and Trea Turner made a few poor throws, but Zimmerman bailed them out each time. He also covered lots of ground while attempting to run down a ball in foul territory. The ball ultimately ended up in the seats, but Zimmerman did well to get as close to it as possible.
After losing five consecutive games, the Nats have returned to form behind Scherzer and Strasburg. After two games, the Nats have already clinched a series win, which is their first home series win of the year.
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The Nats will attempt to sweep the Braves on Wednesday afternoon behind Cole.