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Strasburg overcomes rough first inning to blank Marlins over six

Jul 17, 2010, 11:31 AM EDT

I’m starting to wonder when a Stephen Strasburg start will no longer be a must-see event. We’re not quite there yet.

Strasburg improved to 4-2 by tossing six shutout innings in a 4-0 win over the Marlins on Friday night. We’ve seen the young phenom struggle in the first inning a few times already and that pattern continued on Friday, as Strasburg walked two and threw a wild pitch in a 34-pitch opening frame. He managed to wiggle his way out of any damage and actually settled down quite nicely from there, holding the Fish to just four measly singles while striking out seven.

He was pulled after throwing a major league-high 99 pitches, 63 of them for strikes. It was the first scoreless outing of his major league career.

Nationals manager Jim Riggleman told Steve Dorsey of MLB.com that he was impressed by how Strasburg bounced back after a rough first inning.

“There’s been three or four times where in the first inning he’s been up
in the 30s in pitches, which is kind of a little agonizing for
everybody because we want him to be able to go six or seven innings,”
Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said. “But he really regrouped and
became a very tough challenge for the Marlins tonight. They had some
great at-bats against him in the first couple of innings, and as Stephen
has done before, he just got tougher and tougher as the game went
along.”

Strasburg now has a 2.03 ERA and 1.03 WHIP over his first eight big league starts. He already leads the Nationals with 68 strikeouts in 48 2/3 innings. 

  1. Old Gator - Jul 17, 2010 at 1:05 PM

    Lost in the glitter and sparkle attendant on Strasburg’s performance is the fact that the Feesh, once again, bungled all their opportunities and did nothing to help out their pitcher. Nolasco worked his regulation five before coming apart, as he so often does, in the sixth inning, but it makes it really tough on a pitcher when your guys keep letting run-scoring opportunities slip past.
    .
    The Feesh looked dispirited and unfocused at the plate all night, even after Strasburg’s stint was over. I think this team is playing with the weight of the impending blowup of this roster on their backs, whether in a major way by the trade deadline or in a smaller way now, but with major moves in the offseason. The realization seems finally to have set in that this three or four year “core” of players just hasn’t got the potential that Scrooge McLoria insisted it had, partially as a justification for his pennywise payroll philosophy. Sooner or later the realization will set in – even for the guys the league and player’s union had to force at gunpoint to maintain a slightly better than laughable payroll – that if you don’t make some prudent but substantive investment in your players, you ain’t gonna win doodly squat.

  2. Aland25 - Jul 17, 2010 at 1:52 PM

    It’s easy to look dispirited at the plate when a pitcher’s carving you up.
    The Fish really fought through their at bats I thought, fouling off pitches and hanging in there. Sanchez had a 12 pitch at bat before walking in the first. As Strasburg figured out what was working, he took away their good looks and dominated. Ramirez’s hit in the 4th I think shoulda been an E4, the only blemish in the last 3 innings.

  3. Old Gator - Jul 17, 2010 at 3:15 PM

    During those first couple of innings, Strasburg was hardly carving them up. The Feesh couldn’t get to him when was struggling with his control, and their “hanging in there” might well have become a little carving of their own if they themselves had been locked in. It’s also easy to look like you’re having as good at bat when the pitcher’s not really on his stick. When he was on his stick, as you pointed out, they couldn’t get to him at all. And they couldn’t get to the Gnats bullpen either, so it wasn’t just a matter of Strasburg getting himself righted.
    .
    Incidentally, the Feesh have come from behind after the seventh inning exactly once this year, so their hitting malaise is something that has followed them right through the midseason break. I can’t recall who said it in a PG interview following one of numerous losses this season when the Feesh left the tying or winning runs in scoring position in their last at bat – Cody Ross, I think – that “there’s no quit in this team.” That’s good to know, because there’s no situational hitting in the late innings either. It’s hard to tell that from “quit” sometimes, and since Fat Fredi was sent packing, it’s been harder yet.

  4. Old Gator - Jul 18, 2010 at 12:27 AM

    Coda: in tonight’s game, Josh Johnson worked his usual magic, lowering his ERA to a preposterous 1.62 with six shutout innings. The Feesh managed two whole runs in their victory. True, a win is a win is a win, but that’s just two runs in eighteen innings against the division’s cellar team.

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