Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Stephen Strasburg made two second-inning mistakes but otherwise pitched well.
That time wasn't this afternoon, though, not with Strasburg still easing his way back from a brief stint on the disabled list, and not when a brief fan protest threw a surprise delay into the Nationals' game against the Diamondbacks.
So a crowd of 21,695 -- the smallest by far to see Strasburg pitch in 11 big-league starts -- witnessed the odd sight of the rookie right-hander batting for himself to lead off the bottom of the fifth, then deferring to reliever Tyler Clippard for the top of the sixth.
"I was undecided whether I wanted him to go back out there anyway," Riggleman said. "Once we sat in there a little bit longer with the [protest] going on, I just decided, you know what, I'm not going to send him back out there."
The move ultimately paid off for the Nats, who turned Ian Desmond's go-ahead single, Ryan Zimmerman's solo homer and four scoreless innings of relief into a 5-3 victory.
The most encouraging development of the afternoon might have been the dominant relief work from Clippard, Sean Burnett and Drew Storen. Read about those guys, plus Strasburg, on CSNwashington.com.