Sep 24, 2011, 4:21 AM EDT
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Stephen Strasburg struggled early but rebounded to retire 10 of 11 Braves batters.
A three-run first inning should not be a death sentence for most pitchers, who typically have plenty of time to work through their problems and often salvage a quality start out of the early carnage.
The Nationals, though, can’t afford Stephen Strasburg the kind of rope right now that would allow him to overcome a shaky opening act. Still on a strict pitch limit in his first month back from Tommy John surgery, the right-hander knows that his margin for error is razor-thin and that one bad inning can doom an entire outing.
“It’s definitely tough,” he said. “But I know there’s going to come a time where they let me stay out there longer. If I give up three runs in the first and put up zeroes the rest of my start, I’m going to be happy.”
Strasburg did just that during Friday night’s 7-4 loss to the Braves. He battled his way through a three-run first inning, digging the Nationals into an early hole, then rebounded to retire 10 of 11 Atlanta batters through the fourth.
Unfortunately, he had already reached the 75-pitch mark at that point, ending his night just as he was starting to feel comfortable again. What probably could have become a solid-if-unspectacular start
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