Stephen Strasburg's run support better late than never
Stephen Strasburg had not allowed zero runs in a start until Friday night, and when he climbed the mound in the sixth he did something almost as rare. He took the ball with a significant lead.
Before last night, Strasburg had pitched only one inning -- at Cleveland on June 13 -- with a lead of at least three runs. In the sixth inning Friday night, Strasburg took the mound with a 4-0 lead, Josh Willingham's three-RBI double and ensuing run having given the Nationals their first and only runs of the night.
Given how few runs Strasburg allows opponents, it is staggering how rarely he's had the chances to pitch with a lead. In eight starts, he has gone to the rubber holding a lead for seven innings. Four of those leads were one-run leads. Since Strasburg has allowed 12 runs (11 earned) in 48 2/3 innings, that qualifies as amazing.
One other factor left out of the bird-cage liner game story was how Strasburg followed up on his plan to call his own game. Both Strasburg and catcher Ivan Rodriguez -- who did not catch Strasburg in his last start but did on Friday night -- were asked about it. Their thoughts:
Strasburg: "It's tough facing different lineups, especially my first time around. They're going to have different approaches against me. Figure out their approach throughout the first innings. Bottom line, I know I've got to go out there and pitch my game regardless of what their approach [is]. Whatever they're trying to do is out of my control."
Rodriguez: "No, he didn't shake me off much today. Last time he did, but today he didn't. Again, I've been in baseball for a long time and I have an idea. So he just did great. He followed me, and he did good today."
FROM THE POST
The Nationals opened their second half with Stephen Strasburg leading the way toward their third shutout victory this season.
NATS MINOR LEAGUES
Pawtucket 9, Syracuse 5: Seth Bynum went 2 for 3 with a home run and two walks. Boomer Whiting went 3 for 5 with a double. Jamie Burke went 3 for 4 with a double. The Nationals faced Clay Buchholz, and they'll face Josh Beckett today.
Altoona 3, Harrisburg 0: Ross Detwiler allowed one earned run on three hits and a walk in five innings, striking out seven. It was his second consecutive start of five innings. In six rehab starts over 25 2/3 innings, Detwiler has allowed nine earned runs on 33 hits and six walks while striking out 24. ... Chris Marrero went 2 for 4.
Potomac 8, Kinston 7 (10 innings) : Tyler Walker made his first rehab appearance and allowed three earned runs in 2/3 of an innings on one hit and four walks, striking out two. Tyler Moore went 3 for 5 with two doubles and a home run. Derek Norris went 2 for 4 with a walk and a double.
Rome 6, Hagerstown 5: Justin Bloxom went 1 for 3 with a home run.
Aberdeen 10, Vermont 4: Jason Martinson went 1 for 4 with a triple and a walk.
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