In one of the most dominant and efficient outings of his career, Strasburg finally achieved a milestone he had so longed for as a member of the Washington Nationals. He entered this season without the chains of an innings limit and a growing leash from Manager Davey Johnson and vowed to be a workhorse in the starting rotation.
In the 68th start of his big league career, he tossed a brilliant shutout in a 6-0 victory against the Philadelphia Phillies at Nationals Park.
With the win, the Nationals swept the Phillies. Strasburg needed only 99 pitches to notch 27 outs — 10 of them by the strikeout — while pitching through groin discomfort in the second inning.
Strasburg dismantled the Phillies’ lineup with dazzling stuff. He fanned double-digit batters for the 10th time in his career. He gave up four hits and one walk.
As he talked with a MASN reporter following the game, teammates Tyler Clippard and Craig Stammen dumped a well-deserved tub of Gatorade on him.
“It’s something you try and do every time out, and you have to try and learn to go out there and get outs with less pitches,” Strasburg said. “That’s something I tried to set out doing at the start of the season here, and I knew it was only going to be a matter of time where I was gonna have one of those games where they hit it right to where we were playing and the defense made great plays.”
Strasburg even pitched around two minor nicks. While facing Domonic Brown in the second inning, Strasburg unleashed a 2-0 fastball far inside that aggravated his groin, which he said he tweaked earlier in the week.
Head trainer Lee Kuntz and pitching coach Steve McCatty emerged from the dugout and walked to the mound with Johnson close behind. Strasburg told Johnson his groin didn’t affect him when he flew open during his delivery. He remained in the game. And after walking Brown, he pitched as if nothing at all had bothered him.
The groin tweak “just helped me kind of take a step back and just go nice and easy and stay on line as long as I can,” Strasburg said.
In that inning, he fanned Darin Ruf on a perfectly placed outside fastball. He struck out Cody Asche on a blazing 97-mph fastball. He also hit 97 against Erik Kratz. He even had the awareness to work on a personal weakness. He stepped off the mound to hold Brown honest at first base. On the next pitch, catcher Wilson Ramos threw out Brown trying to steal second.