Stephen Strasburg went five innings Monday night for Syracuse in the Chiefs 6-3 win over Toledo. He allowed only one earned run (two runs total) on five hits, no walks and five strikeouts. He threw 52 pitches and 36 for strikes which included four groundouts and four flyouts. He left with the game tied 2-2.
Strasburg was happy with the work he got in Monday’s no-decision. “I tried to stick the with game plan. If they want to swing early they can get themselves out. We were able to score enough runs to get the win today.”
On pitching just five innings, though, Strasburg said “I wanted to stay out there. It was unfortunate. We have such a great bullpen here that we were able to shut the door from here on out.”
Later, when pressed again, Strasburg said, “It was kind of a shock to me, I am not going to lie. (Pitching coach Greg Booker) has the final say. There is not much you can do. I don’t want to create a big scene in the dugout. I want to keep those guys focused.”
He adjusted to what was working and went to that. “I definitely learned a bit here (tonight). Curveball wasn’t really working like it usually has. Changeup was cutting on me a little bit.
Fastball command, especially on the inside, was a little better than it has been. I am definitely going to build on that. Just a few things I need to get back to doing. I am just going to get ready for my bullpen and my next outing.”
“It was a good challenge out there.”
Syracuse scored four runs in the sixth inning to blow open the close game and take a 6-2 lead.
The Chiefs have another home series this weekend, May 29 and 30, which would make sense if you believe the scenario of Strasburg getting called up for a debut with the Washington Nationals against the Cincinnati Reds June 4.
There has also been some speculation that the Nats will have an opening in their rotation during their upcoming 10-game road trip in San Diego, Strasburg’s home town.
But I still believe June 4 and June 9 will be Stephen’s first two starts because the Nats are home for back-to-back series against the Reds and the Pirates.
If Strasburg starts this weekend at home in Syracuse, this would allow for an extra day rest between his final Triple-A start Saturday against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and his first game at Nats Park.
In the first inning, Strasburg’s first pitch was lofted to center field for the first out. Scott Sizemore struck out looking. The next hitter popped out to the left fielder. Seven pitches in the 1st for Strasburg.
In the second inning, a groundout to the shortstop for the first out on the first pitch. Jeff Frazier than smacked a base hit between the shortstop and second base. Strasburg was hitting 96 miles per hour according to the broadcast radar gun read out. Casper Wells struck out swinging. Brent Dlugach groundout to Strasburg to end the inning.
In the third inning, Deik Scram slapped a triple down the the first base line that got stuck under the bullpen pitchers bench. Robinzon Diaz popped out to the first baseman for the first out. A grounder to second for the second out held the runner at third. A passed ball by catcher Devin Ivany allowed Scram to score the first run allowed by Strasburg in Triple-A competition. Sizemore lined out, so game tied at 1-1 middle third.
The bottom of the third inning became more interesting when Kevin Mench got thrown out for throwing his bat over his head after a called third strike. Then, a three minute argument between manager Trent Jewett and a pair of the umpires earned Jewett an early shower. That was pretty good.
In the fourth frame, Carlos Guillen with a base hit to right field. Strasburg struck out the next batter. Jeff Frazier with a double. Guillen to third base. Wells an RBI single ties the game at 2-2. With men on first and third, a called third strike made it two outs. Then a line out ended the inning.
In the fifth inning, struck out Diaz for the first out. The next hitter grounded to second base for the second out. The next batter flew out to deep center field. That was a eight pitch inning. His first 1-2-3 inning since the first inning.
Jason Bergmann took over for Strasburg in the sixth inning. Bergmann notched the win.
Pete Orr with a homer and a triple, two runs scored early on for the Syracuse offense, finished 2-4.
Chase Lambin with two doubles, one of them during the 4-run outburst.
The Chiefs looked more “Nationals”-like with their red uniforms and interlocking “S C” on their caps. The Alliance Bank Stadium was once again sold out with 13, 288 fans in attendance, probably sensing in Syracuse that their time with Strasburg can now be measured in hours and days rather than games and weeks.