Strasburg able to settle in after early homer, kept Nats in game

NEW YORK -- Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg persevered in his opening day start against the Mets, battling back following an early three-run homer by Mets left fielder Andrew Brown.

That battle to stay in the game and keep his team within striking distance became critical as the Nationals rallied to defeat the Mets 9-7 in a 10-inning seesaw affair.

Even though the day didn’t start off with a 1-2-3 first, Strasburg was able to stay focused and managed to go on a run of 10 consecutive outs at one stretch to last six innings, making the most of his 102 pitches.

“It feels good,” Strasburg said. “Obviously, it didn’t start the way I wanted it to. But settled down, and just keep it close. Gave the guys an opportunity to get back in the game. It was awesome to watch.”

The Mets managed at least two men on in each of the first three innings to build a 4-2 lead. Strasburg was able to alter his strategy a bit as the game wore on because he saw the Mets were coming out aggressive in each at-bat.

“I just started to pitch,” Strasburg said. “They came out swinging it. Didn’t really let me just kind of settle in and stuff. I said, ‘To heck with it’ and I am just going to go out there and throw everything I got.”

Working in his off-speed pitches to a higher frequency than usual, Strasburg was able to strike out David Wright on a slider after the third baseman had back-to-back singles to begin the game.

“I threw some that maybe were little off the plate that they took,” Strasburg explained. “I think it kept them honest. That is kind of what I wanted to do.”

The radar gun was showing 91 to 93 mph fastballs from Strasburg, below his upper 90s mph fastball averages. Was that the reason he relied more heavily on his off-speed stuff?

“It felt pretty good. I guess radar guns have offseasons, too. I don’t know,” Strasburg chuckled.

The Nationals clawed back from 3-0, 4-2 and 5-4 deficits. Strasburg and the Nationals bullpen kept the Mets off the board for five consecutive innings.

“It is great,” he said. “It is a team effort. I think we all came together and made it really hard for their bullpen to shut the door. We weren’t going to stop fighting.”

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