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Stephen Strasburg struggled early but rebounded to retire 10 of 11 Braves batters.
The Nationals, though, can't afford Stephen Strasburg the kind of rope right now that would allow him to overcome a shaky opening act. Still on a strict pitch limit in his first month back from Tommy John surgery, the right-hander knows that his margin for error is razor-thin and that one bad inning can doom an entire outing.
"It's definitely tough," he said. "But I know there's going to come a time where they let me stay out there longer. If I give up three runs in the first and put up zeroes the rest of my start, I'm going to be happy."
Strasburg did just that during Friday night's 7-4 loss to the Braves. He battled his way through a three-run first inning, digging the Nationals into an early hole, then rebounded to retire 10 of 11 Atlanta batters through the fourth.
Unfortunately, he had already reached the 75-pitch mark at that point, ending his night just as he was starting to feel comfortable again. What probably could have become a solid-if-unspectacular start