On Sunday, it must have felt really cool as Strasburg tossed 99 pitches in his first complete game shutout of his career, beating the Phillies 6-0.
Catcher Wilson Ramos said he was impressed because Strasburg battled through a tweak of his groin on his second pitch to Dominic Brown in the second inning, which could have unraveled the start before he even got going. However, Strasburg held on and then got rolling.
“He was very aggressive,” Ramos said. “That was the key for him today. Early in the game, he was feeling something in his leg. I was thinking he would be out of the game soon. For me, today he was horse. He fought all game, he threw all nine innings, with a little soreness in his leg.
“I am very excited for him. Today he threw the ball really good, all the credit for him.”
Strasburg said he didn’t feel that great coming out of his pregame bullpen warmup,either. But Ramos said that was not an issue.
“The bullpen, it was a little bit of a struggle, but that is different,” Ramos said. “During the game, it is very different. Same for us, during the batting practice, we don’t feel good sometimes, but then we get in the game and we go 3-for-4, 4-for-4.”
Strasburg began to gain momentum, registering six strikeouts from the second through the fourth innings. But it wasn’t until Strasburg went 1-2-3 in the sixth that Ramos starting thinking about a complete game.
“After the sixth inning, I was thinking he could throw the complete game because he was throwing good, not too many pitches, that was a good day for him,” Ramos said.
“Today, every pitch was working good. Everything was down in the zone. That is what he needed to do. I can call all the pitches in any situation. That was what we did today.”
Pitching coach Steve McCatty said it was all about basic fundamentals for Strasburg. He kept his pitch count down, walked just the one batter, and kept having quick innings.
“It was pretty much everything, just pounding the zone and getting ahead,” McCatty noted. “Good velocity, good command. He was seeing both sides of the plate. From where I sit, it is hard to judge, but he got ahead and he threw the ball very well.”
McCatty was surprised when told by the media that Strasburg had 10 strikeouts.
“He had that many?” McCatty asked. “I don’t count. That’s cool.”
When McCatty was told Strasburg did give up that one walk to Brown, he had a different reaction.
“OK, that is the one I care about really,’ McCatty said. “If you get ahead and you are able to put someone away quick, I have no problems with strikeouts. But when they are all 3-2 on everybody and foul balls, now we have a different thing. I have to go over this with you everything freaking time, don’t I?”
McCatty was in his usual playful mood when discussing Strasburg’s milestone. He did admit this was a special moment for the Nationals’ most high-profile starter.
“I think it is always great for the guy to get his first shutout, no matter what, his first complete game,” McCatty said. “He is definitely throwing the ball outstanding. Most people look at the wins and losses, and that is a shame because his numbers are really, really good. We said that three months ago.
“All you can do as a pitcher is go out there and give your team a chance to win, and he has pretty much done that just about every time out. But today was good for him, good for the team. I think he feels good finally getting that first nine-inning game in, the first shutout.”