The Washington Nationals and rookie phenom pitcher Stephen Strasburg blanked the hometown Florida Marlins on Friday Night, 4-0. The win increased his record to 4-2 and proved that even on a night when the youngster didn’t have his best stuff, he is still tough to beat.
Things started out a little shaky for Strasburg in the first inning as his control was tested. He needed 34 pitches in the opening inning, and allowed two baserunners in each of the first three innings. S.S. walked three and threw the first wild pitch of his career. But he finished with seven strikeouts in six innings and lowered his ERA to a jaw dropping 2.03!!
This is just a kid folks.
“You’re not going to go out there and feel perfect every single time,” Strasburg said. “What separates the really good pitchers from the average ones is their ability to figure it out on the fly and make adjustments without really giving up too many runs. I was able to do that tonight.”
Facing Florida for the first time in his eighth major league start, Strasburg was locked in a scoreless duel with Marlins pitcher Ricky Nolasco until Josh Willingham hit a three-run double in the sixth inning. Matt Capps, taking the mound for the first time since being the winning pitcher in Tuesday night’s All-Star Game, pitched a hitless ninth to complete a four-hitter for the Nationals. The shutout was the third this year for the Nationals, thanks in part to Strasburg’s first scoreless outing.
Pitching for the first time in a week because of the All-Star break, Strasburg battled rustiness as he walked two in the first inning, including Gaby Sanchez on 12 pitches. Two singles and a sacrifice put Marlins at second and third with two outs in the second, but Strasburg got Chris Coghlan to ground out. A walk and a single in the third for Florida were sandwiched around a caught stealing.
“He was one hitter away from being out of the game, but that two-out RBI never came,” Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez said. “You have to give him credit. He pitched out of tough situations.”
Strasburg’s breaking ball improved as the game progressed as well as his command. He threw only a couple of changeups and sprayed the Marlins a steady diet of fastballs clocked in the upper 90s.
“They didn’t prove that they could hit my fastball, so I wasn’t going to throw any changeups to possibly make a mistake,” he said.
Strasburg retired 10 of the final 11 batters he faced before departing after throwing 99 pitches.
“What’s so impressive about him is his mental makeup,” Florida’s Dan Uggla said. “He knows how to pitch. He throws strikes and he commands all his pitches. For a kid as young as he is and has the ability he does, that’s the biggest difference between him and a lot of other kids out there.”
Strasburg is the real deal. Unfortunately for Marlins fans, the Nationals are in the same division and you can count on seeing him for years to come (mowing down the Marlins line-up of course).