“The way he finished off, he blew the guy away, I said, ‘He’s back,’ ” Manager Davey Johnson said. “I don’t think he ever left.”
Strasburg had not recorded an out past the fifth inning in any of his previous three starts, a span that raised his ERA from 1.64 to 2.64. In his last start, also against Atlanta, he allowed four runs in five innings while issuing four walks, the second most of his career.
“The last couple starts, he’s been a little shaky,” Flores said. “But today, when I watched him in the bullpen, he looked really different — very confident. That’s what he did today.”
The only team to beat Strasburg twice was the Braves, against whom Strasburg had a 5.28 ERA. He shredded that history. Strasburg threw 59 strikes in only 90 pitches. He chucked several fastballs at 99 mph. The Braves took awkward flails at his off-speed pitches. He faced two batters over the minimum, allowed one batter past second base and took only two counts to three balls. Strasburg emptied both barrels.
“I think I just expected a little bit too much out of myself and I was kind of getting away from what I was trying to do and what I want to do out there,” Strasburg said. “So today was huge for me, to be able to go out there and keep it simple.”
Because of a scheduled day off and Friday’s rainout, Strasburg took the mound six days after his last start. The extra rest made a difference from the beginning. He struck out the first four batters he faced and retired the first eight.
Strasburg also extracted a measure of revenge against his nemesis. Dan Uggla entered the game 6 for 8 against Strasburg with two home runs, a double and two walks. Just last Saturday, Uggla crushed a game-tying, two-run homer off Strasburg to dead center at Turner Field.
This time, Strasburg turned the tables. He struck Uggla out in their first meeting by twirling a change-up and a curveball after falling behind, 2-1. Uggla struck out in his next at-bat on three off-speed pitches, a first-pitch curveball and two feeble swings at change-ups.