Nats right hander rebounds from slump
The last time Stephen Strasburg faced Atlanta – just a week ago -- Dan Uggla took him out of the park. His two-run home run gave the Braves a short-lived 4-3 lead and knocked Strasburg from the game after only five innings.
Saturday afternoon, Strasburg rebounded with perhaps his best performance this season – seven innings, four hits, no walks, and nine strikeouts – in a 2-0 win over the same Braves.
“My goal out there today was to go out and attack,” Strasburg (6-1) said.
Strasburg’s fastball registered as high as 99 mph. And he used it to back the Braves hitters off the plate early.
“First one kind of slipped a little bit. So that was kind of on accident,” Strasburg said. “But I was trying to pound them in all day. I gotta pitch that way so they don’t lean out over the plate.”
Strasburg fanned the first four hitters he faced, including clean-up hitter Uggla, who whiffed three times and hit a double-play grounder.
“It was obvious today that he wasn’t going to give him anything to hit,” Nats manager Davey Johnson said. “I was reading lips and frankly I don’t want to tell you what [Uggla] said.”
Strasburg had been less than dominant in his last three starts, giving up 17 hits and seven walks in 14 lackluster innings. Saturday, however, working on six days rest, Strasburg was sharp.
“I just expected a little too much out of myself. It was kind of getting my away from what I want to do out there,” Strasburg said. “It was huge for me to go out there and just keep it simple.”
He got to three-ball counts on only three batters. In the fourth inning, he fanned Uggla and No. 5 Freddy Freeman on six straight pitches – three off-speed to Uggla and three fastballs, 98, 98, and 99 mph to Freeman.
“I felt like I was getting stronger as the game went on,” Strasburg said.
Strasburg departed after seven innings. He was officially done when he was pinch-hit for in the seventh, but Johnson had already lifted him from the game, shaking his hand after he finished up in the top half of the inning.
“I’ve been taking innings away from him. But don’t tell him I said that,” Johnson said.