Stephen Strasburg wouldn’t admit his poorest outing this season gave him added motivation. His teammates saw something additional in his dominating performance Sunday.
Strasburg pitched 3-hit ball over 6 shutout innings and drove in 2 runs to guide the Nationals over the Marlins 4-1.
”He came out a little angry,” Washington’s Jayson Werth declared. ”I think he acted like he had something to prove today, and he pitched really great. I like that Stras.”
Strasburg (12-5) struck out 6 and walked one, extending his scoreless streak against the Marlins to 27 innings and lowering his ERAto 2.97 in 127 1-3 innings. Vegas odds
”He’s a way better pitcher. Before he used to be a thrower,” Miami manager Ozzie Guillen asserted. ”He’s matured. He’s better.”
In his previous start, against Philadelphia Phillies, Strasburg tied his career high by giving up 6 runs. Strasburg has allowed 4 runs or even more 4 times this season and in his next starts has gone 4-0 and authorized just 2 earned runs.
”I’m still learning how to pitch and call a game and really pick up on little things that happen in the game that you can use to your advantage,” Strasburg declared. ”Today was a huge move forward for me in that process, but there’s still a good way to go.”
The right-hander is pitching his 1st full major league season following reconstructive elbow surgery in 2010. Washington officials say they plan to end his season early, and he is believed to have a limit of about 160 innings, although the Washington Nationals haven’t been specific.
Strasburg’s strong day extended from the mound to the plate. In the 2nd inning he created runners on 2nd and 3rd and one out, and hit a 2-run single to right field. He’s batting .343 (12 for 35) with 7 RBIs.
”Someone expounded, ‘When we shut him down, are we able to keep his bat? Can we use him as a pinch hitter?”’ Nationals’ manager Davey Johnson declared with a grin, ”highly unlikely.”
Strasburg gave up a double to Scott Cousins in the 1st inning, and then retired his next 9 batters. He never allowed more than one runner in an inning.
”He was great. That was back to the old Stras,” Adam LaRoche claimed. ”There was something about when he came to the dugout before the game. We could all sense a different approach today. I don’t know if it was something to prove to himself, that he still had it or to be able bounce back from the last one – whatever it was, he had a little fire in his belly.”
LaRoche was 2 for 3 with his very own 2-run single in the 2nd inning as the Nationals won 3 of 4 from Marlins and maintained a 3-game lead over 2nd-place Atlanta in the National League East. LaRoche is hitting .442 with 7 homers and 16 RBIs in his last 14 games.
Drew Storen pitched a one-hit 9th for his 1st save since Sept. 28. It was actually the 1st save chance for Storen since he returned July 19 from right elbow surgery.
”That was plenty of fun,” Storen announced. ”Particularly when you are pitching for a 1st-place team in that scenario, it doesn’t get much better than that.”