Manager Davey Johnson sent Strasburg to the mound in the second, and he again labored. Behind 1-2, Ed Lucas worked a seven-pitch walk. Facing slugger Giancarlo Stanton, who has a long history of killing the Nationals, Strasburg jumped ahead 0-2 with two called strikes. Stanton, however, stayed alive and then demolished the seventh pitch of the at-bat over the right-field wall for a two-run shot.
“It can happen to anybody, but it’s kind of remarkable to happen to him,” Johnson said of Strasburg’s night.
Strasburg finished the second, then disappeared into the dugout and clubhouse. Ross Ohlendorf pitched four strong innings in relief, allowing only one hit and two walks. Since joining the bullpen nearly three weeks ago, Ohlendorf has been solid as a middle reliever, lowering his ERA to 1.74 with Friday’s performance.
After their fast start, however, the Nationals produced nothing. In the seventh, a rally was snuffed out by the cavernous dimensions of Marlins Park. With Denard Span and Desmond on base, Bryce Harper crushed a ball off left-hander Mike Dunn to deep center field. Ozuna ran it down at the warning track, about 410 feet from home plate. Harper, frustrated, slammed his helmet into the dirt around first base.
An inning later, Werth crushed a ball with two outs high into the air, nearing the light fixtures, but that landed in front of the left-field wall and was misplayed by Ruggiano. Anthony Rendon walked, but Ramos grounded out softly to end the threat.
The Nationals, however, lost the game in the first inning. Even with the seven earned runs, Strasburg carries a 2.99 ERA. He may still be selected as an injury replacement for teammate Jordan Zimmermann for the Midsummer Classic in New York. But if not, Strasburg will have to wait at least a week away before he can return to the mound and flush his career-worst start from his system.
“You’re always trying to get better, always trying to learn,” he said. “And I think it’s these type of games where you’ve got nothing working that you can just kind of take a step back and just pick it apart a little bit, see your flaws a little bit more.”