Sep 24, 2011, 4:21 AM EDT
US Presswire photo
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
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
NL POSTSEASON SCHEDULE
WED: Giants at Pirates, 8:07 p.m. (ESPN)
FRI: Game 1, Pirates at Nats, 12:07 p.m.,
OR Giants at Nats, 3:07 p.m. (FS1)
SAT: Game 2, PIT/SF at Nats, 5:37 p.m. (FS1)
MON: Game 3, Nats at PIT/SF, TBA (MLBN)
OCT. 7: Game 4, Nats at PIT/SF, TBA (FS1)*
OCT. 9: Game 5, PIT/SF at Nats, TBA (FS1)*
ON THE RADIO
As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.
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