Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Stephen Strasburg starts today's series finale at Nationals Park.
They'll have Stephen Strasburg on the mound, but the question is which Stephen Strasburg they'll get today. Is it the fastball-pumping ace who dissected the Mets lineup 11 days ago, or the tentative and inconsistent pitcher who got torched for a career-high six runs by the Phillies five nights ago?
Strasburg will have a familiar face behind the plate in Jesus Flores. Davey Johnson didn't want to burn out Kurt Suzuki already by asking him to catch a day after a night game, but I suspect we'll start seeing the veteran make back-to-back (or even three consecutive) starts during this week's road trip.
Updates to come...
MIAMI MARLINS at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 1:35 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, Ch. 50, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 187
Weather: Partly cloudy, 91 degrees, Wind 14 mph out to CF
2B Steve Lombardozzi
CF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
LF Michael Morse
RF Jayson Werth
SS Danny Espinosa
C Jesus Flores
RHP Stephen Strasburg
LF Bryan Petersen
RF Scott Cousins
SS Jose Reyes
1B Carlos Lee
3B Greg Dobbs
CF Justin Ruggiano
2B Donovan Solano
C John Buck
RHP Ricky Nolasco
HP Fieldin Culbreth (cc)
1B Lance Barksdale
2B Adrian Johnson
3B Mike Muchlinski
1:37 p.m. -- And we're underway with a 96-mph fastball from Stephen Strasburg to Bryan Petersen for strike one. A comfortable 89 degrees at gametime, and a very boisterous crowd on hand.
1:45 p.m. -- Plenty of fastballs from Strasburg in a 16-pitch, 12-strike top of the first. He did give up a double to Scott Cousins but broke out a devastating 88 mph changeup to strike out Carlos Lee and end the inning.
1:57 p.m. -- Wow, that was a long first inning for no runs to have scored for either team. The Nats put two men on base with two outs: Ryan Zimmerman beat out a chopper over the mound, then Adam LaRoche walked. But Ricky Nolasco struck out Michael Morse on three pitches to escape the jam. Not a particularly good at-bat there from Morse. Scoreless after one.
2:45 p.m. -- Sorry for the lack of updates over the last 45 minutes or so. Having some computer issues. But the Nats have taken a 4-0 lead, all four runs coming in the bottom of the second thanks to their two most consistent run producers all year: Adam LaRoche and ... Stephen Strasburg. Yep, Strasburg did it again, delivering a two-run single to right to get the Nats on the board. He's now got seven RBI this season, which is more than the Marlins' No. 1 and 2 hitters today have combined for the season. LaRoche later added a two-run single of his own, giving him 71 RBI for the season. The guy has been clutch, no doubt about it. So we're now in the top of the fourth, with Strasburg looking pretty sharp.
2:59 p.m. -- Wow, impressive display of power from Harper in the bottom of the fourth. Unfortunately it came as he slammed his bat on the plate and sliced it in half after striking out. Not sure that's the kind of display of emotion the Nats want out of the kid. Still 4-0 after four.
3:09 p.m. -- Not hearing too many boos for Espinosa's defense at shortstop today. He just made a spectacular play on Nolasco's grounder up the middle, diving to make the stop, then hopping to his feet and firing a perfect throw to first to end the top of the fifth.
3:33 p.m. -- Strasburg is done after six strong innings. His final line: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K. So, he's now given up four or more earned runs five times in his career. His ERA the next time he takes the mound: 0.90. Wow. Still 4-0 in the bottom of the sixth.
3:49 p.m. -- A little hiccup from Craig Stammen, who gave up back-to-back doubles in the top of the seventh. But he rebounded nicely to get through the inning without any more damage. We've reached the stretch with the Nats still leading 4-1.
4:02 p.m. -- Sean Burnett cruises through the eighth. So the Nats are thre outs from victory and look who's warming in the pen for a save situation: Drew Storen.
4:15 p.m. -- Here we go: Storen in for his first save opportunity of the season. Before everyone panics, Tyler Clippard has pitched each of the last three days. Can't fault Davey for staying away from him today. I don't think this means at all he's lost the closer's job.
4:25 p.m. -- That's it. Storen gets it done and the Nats win 4-1 to improve to a season-best 22 games over .500.