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Strasburg brilliant in Nats’ 7-1 win over Marlins

Apr 10, 2014, 9:16 PM EDT

Photo by USA Today Photo by USA Today

Stephen Strasburg entered Thursday’s matinee against the Marlins with a 6.10 ERA after two starts, and just a day after the Nationals’ bullpen was needed for over seven innings. He was also facing a Marlins team who, even in their lowest moments, seem to give him trouble.

Fortunately for the Nationals – as they head into a road series against the Braves – Strasburg was exceptionally sharp, carving up the Marlins’ lineup for 6 2/3 innings with 12 strikeouts along the way. He has now tossed double digit Ks in 13 career outings, two of them already coming this season.

Strasburg took advantage of an aggressive approach by the Marlins to consistently begin counts with strike one. He worked primarily with his fastball and changeup, only throwing seven curveballs out of his 98 total pitches.

“You want to get anybody as a hitter in swing mode and get them looking for fastball and throw them something else,” manager Matt Williams said.

“But you have to establish that first, and he did that today. It’s 95-plus, and it’s got a little movement, and then when he can throw his changeup off of it, it looks like a fastball coming out of his hand. And it’s got some depth to it, so you end up swinging over the top of it. He was really good, pounding the zone.”

Strasburg brought to the mound some adjustments he had discussed with shortstop Ian Desmond in recent days. Desmond was happy to see them pay off.

“Strasburg looked great,” Desmond said. “We actually talked after his last start and he told me some things that he wanted to work on and to see him go out and execute it today, exactly the way he wanted to change and what he was going to mess with, was pretty good to see. That’s maturity. Everyone forgets how young he is. He’s going to keep on getting better and better and today was proof of that.”

And those adjustments were?

“I’d have to kill you if I told you,” Desmond said.

Okay, Stephen, why don’t you explain them, then:

“It was just: I don’t need to go out there and trick guys and I don’t need to go out there and be perfect. I just got to attack the strike zone, let my stuff work and get much better results that way.”

Strasburg allowed a single to Christian Yelich to begin the game before settling in to retire 14 straight. His only run came on a Marcell Ozuna solo homer in the seventh inning, which led to him being replaced by Jerry Blevins just one batter later.

Strasburg finished with 98 pitches after needing only 78 through the first six innings. His best moment probably came at the end of the sixth with two men on against Giancarlo Stanton. It was a one-run game and the Marlins had their best player at the plate.

Strasburg began the count with two sliders and a changeup, the sliders for strikes. The second strike came on an awkward half-swing that suggested Stanton was looking for a fastball. The third strike, a 95 mile per hour heater on the inside part of the plate, finished him off.

Catcher Sandy Leon described Strasburg’s approach to the at-bat as “perfect.”

“I don’t think he was trying to strike [Stanton] out, but he just threw, like, perfect pitches. Every pitch was, like, perfect. That guy is the best hitter they got. That’s the best hitter the Marlins got. We just treat him like a normal hitter because [Strasburg’s] stuff was really good today. Every pitch was really good and it worked.”

  1. Sec 3 My Sofa - Apr 10, 2014 at 9:28 PM

    Remember this later. It won’t be this good 153 more times.

    • Faraz Shaikh - Apr 10, 2014 at 9:33 PM

      why not? :(

      • Sec 3 My Sofa - Apr 10, 2014 at 9:38 PM

        Because, baseball.

  2. Faraz Shaikh - Apr 10, 2014 at 9:39 PM

    great win. we do need to score some runs without home runs. we have not run into good pitching staffs yet (braves did hold us to what, four or five runs in 3 games).

  3. Faraz Shaikh - Apr 10, 2014 at 9:40 PM

    I know Rendon is playing really well but 56-game hitting streak and votto comparisons should stop I think. guy is 23 years old, in his second season.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 10, 2014 at 10:03 PM

      Are people really doing that?

      • Faraz Shaikh - Apr 10, 2014 at 10:15 PM

        yeah, we are doing that. check last couple of game threads.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 10, 2014 at 10:25 PM

        Any reference to DiMaggio’s 56 is delusional. References to hitting at a .300+ BA for a full season in year 2 seems achievable but if you then compare to Votto isnt fair to Rendon.

      • Faraz Shaikh - Apr 10, 2014 at 10:31 PM

        the streak involved a good amount of luck so it is possible but I wouldn’t talk about it with a 2nd year player.

        I think bowdenball posted Votto’s career slashline and that should have been enough argument against those comparisons.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 10, 2014 at 10:38 PM

        Mets win, Braves lose!

      • Faraz Shaikh - Apr 10, 2014 at 10:40 PM

        Nice! Detroit should have stuck with him as their closer. :P

    • Candide - Apr 10, 2014 at 10:26 PM

      guy is 23 years old, in his second season.

      …and look what a beautiful hitter he is. He uses the entire plate and he uses the entire field. The other night, Ray Knight flashed a graphic of his plate hot zone, and essentially everything in the strike zone was red – I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that before.

      So yeah, I think he could someday put up some amazing hitting records. Because he’s this good at 23.

      We’ll talk again in five years.

      • Faraz Shaikh - Apr 10, 2014 at 10:29 PM

        I am excited about him also but not that excited. :P
        Hope he achieves greater heights.

      • Sec 3 My Sofa - Apr 10, 2014 at 10:33 PM

        That Rendon hot zone stunned and amazed me, too.

        But I am watching the replay of this game, and I am calling it now: Rookie Of the Year out of the bullpen, first time for everyfing: Barrett.

      • Candide - Apr 11, 2014 at 6:51 AM

        I am calling it now: Rookie Of the Year out of the bullpen, first time for everyfing: Barrett.

        Not to get into the “I said it first before you did neenner neener neener” thing, but I mixed that pitcher of Kool-Aid last week.

        Gotta like this kid. Check out this video of his strikeout of Stanton. If that isn’t a closer face, there ain’t no such animal.

      • Sec 3 My Sofa - Apr 11, 2014 at 10:34 AM

        Candide, not only that, but he would be nowhere close to the first ROY pitching primarily out of the ‘pen (tho they were all closers).

        Still, we never let facts get in the way of a good opinion around here!

    • Sec 3 My Sofa - Apr 10, 2014 at 10:56 PM

      So who did they compare Votto to? Just wondering.

      • Faraz Shaikh - Apr 10, 2014 at 10:57 PM

        fans being fans? I am not too sure. maybe it is a plate discipline thing.

    • rabbit433 - Apr 11, 2014 at 7:46 AM

      I’d rather see Rendon have nothing but five game hitting streaks all season…….and bat .400!

  4. Faraz Shaikh - Apr 10, 2014 at 9:53 PM

    Saw Harper’s 1st to 3rd run. Too bad it did not become a run but was an awesome play.

    Saw Desi’s GS also. Carp has nothing on WJFK guys. They really know how to excite fans.

  5. Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 10, 2014 at 10:03 PM

    Mets will be looking at all starters and relievers in the Minors for promotions to their bullpen.

  6. Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 10, 2014 at 10:10 PM

    Mets go up by 2 over the Braves

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