MID 4, 3:00: Tom Gorzelanny held the Astros scoreless in the fourth. I’m all done blogging this one. Talk about the rest of the game in the comments section.
BOT 3, 2:42: Corey Brown is pinch-hitting for Strasburg with two outs in the third inning, ending Strasburg’s start early. Strasburg’s line: 3 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 4 K, 0 BB, 57 pitches, 39 strikes.
In his two starts, Strasburg has struck out eight, walked none and allowed five hits in eight innings.
The Nats continued their barrage against Henry Sosa when Espinosa and Chris Marrero hit consecutive doubles with two outs. It’s 5-1.
Tom Gorzelanny had been warming up in the bullpen and will presumably be your new Nats pitcher.
BOT 3, 2:33: Ian Desmond, Rick Ankiel and Ryan Zimmerman hit back-to-back-to-back home runs to start the third inning. Michael Morse stopped the streak with a weak grounder. It’s 4-1, Nats.
BOT 3, 2:29: Strasburg retired his first 1-2-3 inning, recording his fourth strikeout. He fully regain his command, and a little dominance, throwing nine strikes in 11 pitches. He has thrown 57 pitches overall, 39 of them strikes. That’s already one more pitch than his 2011 debut, which was five innings.
He blew two straight 96-mph fastballs past Parades for his fourth strikeout of the day, all of which have been swinging. His first three came on changeups. Danny Espinosa made a nice play up the middle to end the inning on a ball Strasburg tipped with his glove.
Ian Desmond led off the third with a home run to left field, putting the Nats ahead, 2-1.
END 2, 2:20: It’s tied 1-1. Danny Espinosa hit an opposite-field double to right, snapping an 0-for-15 slump, and Chris Marrero hit a sac fly to right field. The Astros intentionally walked Wilson Ramos to face Strasburg with two outs. One fan yelled, “No respect, Stephen, no respect!” Strasburg struck out on three pitches.
MID 2, 2:08: Strasburg managed to regain some command in his second inning, but the pesky Astros still made him work. He allowed only a bloop single and struck out one more hitter — Carlos Corporan swinging at a changeup — but still threw 15 pitches. From the stretch, he threw his two-seam fastball consistently at 92 miles per hour, and it still induced a swing-and-miss from Clint Barmes.
Matt Downs led off with a bloop single to shallow right field off of Danny Espinosa’s glove. Barmes grounded into a fielder’s choice on a groundball that Ryan Zimmerman initially bobbled.
In the middle of Strasburg’s at-bat against Corporan, with the count 2-2, pitching coach Steve McCatty visited the mound. Strasburg needed three more pitches to finish him off with an 87-mph changeup. Strasburg ot a first-pitch out with a 92-mph two-seamer thant Henry Sosa flied to right.
Strasburg threw four balls in the inning and no balls were hit hard. He has had a little trouble finishing off hitters, the three Ks notwithstanding. The Astros have hit 13 foul balls off him in two innings and swung-and-missed six times.
END 1, 2:00: In the first inning today, Stephen Strasburg pitched with neither the same efficiency nor the same dominance as his first start. He struck out two Astros in the first inning, both swinging at changeups, but he needed 31 pitches and allowed two singles, one an infield hit off the second base bag and the other an RBI flare to center by Carlos Lee.
He threw multiple balls to only three of 17 hitters in his 2011 debut against the Dodgers. Today, he went to 3-2 counts to the first three hitters he faced and threw 12 balls in 31 pitches. The Astros were more patient than the Dodgers and also fouled away nine pitches. Strasburg threw first-pitch strikes to just two of five batters.
He went to 3-2 counts to the first three batters he faced. Jordan Schafer ended an eight-pitch at-bat by swinging over an 89-mph changeup. Jimmy Padades grounded an infield single on a 97-mph fastball. After he struck out J.D. Martinez swinging at a changeup, Carlos Lee flared a 2-2, 96-mph fastball to center field. Strasburg got out of the inning when Brian Bogusevic flied to deep center.
One defensive note. On the lineup card today, Jayson Werth was listed as the right field and Rick Ankiel the center fielder. But they’ve swapped – Werth is in center and Ankiel is playing right.
Also, the Nationals made an extraordinarily quick three outs in the first. Here comes Strasburg again.
Original post, 1:35: In his first start back in the major leagues, Stephen Strasburg a new approach to pitching. He threw his fastball 96 and 97 miles per hour rather than 99 or 100, focusing more on command than power. Then again, he was still throwing harder than every starter in the major leagues. “If that was pitching to contact,” one scout said with a laugh, “I’d like to see him when he’s airing it out.”
Strasburg will make his second start this afternoon on a perfect day for baseball, facing Henry Sosa and the Astros. Strasburg is just finishing up his warm-up now in the bullpen. I will provide updates on Strasburg in this post, one per half inning, but feel free to chime in on anything about the game. Enjoy.