Left-hander Matt Purke had his best outing to date this season for low Single-A Hagerstown Suns Friday night against Lexington.
Purke went six innings and allowed one hit, no runs and struck out eight hitters. Lexington scored three in the ninth to come back and win, 3-2, so Purke finished with a no-decision.
But that does not hide that Purke has 17 strikeouts in his last 11 innings. In six starts, spanning 29 innings, Purke has 41 strikeouts. He has walked only seven during that span.
He was capped at six innings Friday night, which was his longest outing of the season. He had gone four innings, four 2/3 innings (three times) and five innings in his previous five starts.
This is Purke's first professional game action since early in the 2012 season. He was shut down last season because of bursitis in his left shoulder. Purke recovered from offseason shoulder surgery that also cleaned out scar tissue. He rehabbed at the Nationals training facility in Viera, Fla., until May 29.
He has gone 1-1 with a 2.48 ERA in six starts this season with Hagerstown.
Purke is tracking towards a call-up to high Single-A Potomac. It appears the Nationals are being cautious with his innings, similar to a candidate who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, with shoulder injuries, they would prefer to ramp him up at a measured pace.