Strasburg back to basics, beats Marlins

Look out Major League Baseball.

Stephen Strasburg could be starting to figure this thing out.

On July 25, the Nationals right-hander, relying on his lethal fastball, fired 11 strikeouts, allowing one run in a seven-inning win over the Mets in New York.

On July 31, going with a similar game plan, the Phillies jumped on Strasburg, notching eight hits and scoring six runs in handing him the four-inning loss, his shortest stint of the season.

On Sunday, Strasburg returned to his "old" form and rolled through the Marlins, allowing just one extra-base hit in six innings, striking out six for the 4-1 victory.

It was Strasburg's first win at home since June 20 versus Tampa Bay.

"That was more like it," manager Davey Johnson said. "That was more reminiscent of last year. He pitched a great ball game. That low pitch count he could have gone seven (innings) easy, except I know he has a little trouble on hot days."

Strasburg said he was comfortable, even on an 89-degree, classically muggy, D.C. summer day, something that had given him trouble in some past starts.

"It felt good, Strasburg said. "It was good to come off a bad outing previously and help this team get a win today."

Johnson said Strasburg made another key step in his education of National League pitching. His game plan was unpredictable. His strategy confused the Marlins.

"He is learning about himself and learning about the league," Johnson said. "It is a process they go through. He had a good game plan and stuck to it.
That is the learning curve. You get comfortable with who you are facing and what their strengths are, and you are not as anxious."

And another place Strasburg feels comfortable is at the plate. His two-run single turned into the game-deciding moment.

"I don't know if it was (Mark) DeRosa or somebody said, 'when we shut him down, can we keep his bat? Can we use him as a pinch-hitter?' Highly unlikely," Johnson smiled.

But on the mound, Strasburg is gaining ground, according to Johnson.

"It is just experience. A lot of pitchers it takes several years. (Mets Ron) Darling had great stuff too and it took him three years. He was five and fly with a no decision with me until he learned to trust his stuff and learned more about the league, he could go the distance.

"It is all a learning curve."

The Strasburg bachelor's degree in pitching appears to be completed. Now he is tackling his Master's degree. Watch out when he gets to the final.

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