The Nationals overcame a four-run deficit to force extra innings, a rally capped by Michael Morse’s solo homer in the eighth. They nearly erased the three-run lead the Marlins took in the 10th inning against closer Tyler Clippard. But afterward, with their lead in the National League East sliced to 61
2 games, Manager Davey Johnson worried more about his ace than he celebrated his team’s effort.
Strasburg became so concerned about letting teammates down he had trouble sleeping in recent nights, Johnson said. Strasburg still rejected the idea that anything but a poorly located fastball undid him. Johnson sensed otherwise.
“To be honest with you, I think he was thinking too much about the decision” to end his season early, Johnson said. “And he kind of wore it. . . .But that’s the way it is. I think he wasn’t focused as much on the game as he was on the impending shutdown. Just the way I read it.”
The shortest start of Strasburg’s season pushed his total to 1591
3 innings. Johnson had announced Strasburg would make his final start Sept. 12 in New York against the Mets. Asked if the short outing could change the Nationals’ plans for their ace, Johnson gave a cryptic answer.
“It might,” Johnson said, and then he left his news conference.
Strasburg kept to himself whether he would campaign to have his season extended past Wednesday. “”I’m going to focus on the next start,” he said.
Johnson said he would speak with Strasburg about his focus between now and Wednesday. For his part, Strasburg insisted he had merely had a bad night Friday.
”I think as a professional you want to go out there and give it everything you have, every single time out,” he said. “So that’s what I want to go out there and do. Unfortunately, it wasn’t good enough.”
The memories from his planned final appearance in Washington this season will almost all be bad for Strasburg. The crowd of 28,533 showered him with an ovation as he walked in from the bullpen and, when his name was announced, the cheers were both an acknowledgment and audible hope for a special night.
Strasburg’s full performance, then, was an anticlimax. He walked the game’s first batter. He surrendered two home runs, both on fastballs thrown to the center of the strike zone.
He threw 67 pitches. Remove two outs by Jacob Turner, the opposing starting pitcher, and Miami hitters went 6 for 13 with two three walks and two homers against him.
“He’s not going to throw a no-hitter every single time,” third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. “He’s human. Nobody has a good time every time out. . . . He’s been the same since Day One. I think he had a bad day, just like every pitcher has a bad day every now and then.”