|Photo by USA Today|
Game in a nutshell: Stephen Strasburg did not have his best stuff on Saturday and early on there was no question about it. But as an ace, he did his job in putting the Nationals in position to win. He threw six innings of inconsistent but effective ball, finishing the day with no earned runs. He did surrender a home run to Evan Gattis in the fourth inning, but the two runs were not earned because it happened after a throwing error by Ryan Zimmerman. The Nats’ third baseman had his second error in as many games with a routine toss that missed first by a few feet. That allowed Justin Upton to get on in the fourth with two outs and set up Gattis’ homer. Atlanta put another run on the board in the ninth on a fielder's choice grounder by Jason Heyward, the Nats couldn't turn the double play and the runner at third came across.
Hitting highlight: The Nats had a long day at the plate facing the veteran Tim Hudson. Their one shining moment came in the fifth inning with a solo homer by Danny Espinosa. The Nats’ second baseman hit his first home run of the year and took the first pitch he saw in the at-bat. A nice sign of progress for the otherwise struggling Espinosa.
Pitching highlight: Strasburg’s command was by no means a highlight of the day, but his final line was. The Nats’ right-hander finished with no earned runs through six innings of work, with five hits, one walk, and seven strikeouts.
Key stat: Strasburg threw 112 pitches on Saturday in his third outing of the year, the second time he has surpassed 100. Last season the most he ever threw was 119 and second most was 111, so far he has thrown more than 111 already twice this year.
Up next: Gio Gonzalez will make his third start of the season with lefty Paul Maholm on the mound for Atlanta. Game starts at 1:35 p.m.