Right-hander Stephen Strasburg has had trouble this season getting off to quick starts in the first inning.
Before Wednesday’s game against the Dodgers, he had allowed nine runs, six earned, in seven previous opening innings.
Same thing happened again in his eighth start. Four consecutive hits and two runs and the Dodgers led 2-0.
But then that is when something unusual happened. All season it was the Nationals that had to find a way to come back. Down 2-0, this time they didn’t wait until the late innings.
They came right after former teammate Dan Haren. The Nats also connected on four hits, two of them doubles, including a two-run single by Adam LaRoche, and the Nationals and Dodgers were all even 2-2 after one frame.
That is when Strasburg took over. With a new lease on his start, he shut down the Dodgers.
After the first, Strasburg allowed only three hits, no runs, two walks and he struck out six to cruise into his third win of the season.
The Nationals went on to win 3-2.
Strasburg came out and attacked the Dodgers from the second inning on.
“I just tried to stay to the game plan,” Strasburg said. “I gave up a few hits but for the most part they were ground balls. That is kind of how baseball is some times, they hit it where we are not.
“It was great to see the offense answer back there and get it back to basically a 0-0 ball game, and kind of start over after the first. Played some good defense. Guys came up clutch there in the end.”
You can hear it in Strasburg’s voice. His demeanor after the game was one of confidence. He didn’t sound down on himself or feel sorry for himself for an unlucky bounce. He acknowledged that sometimes things just don’t go your way in this game. He threw 114 pitches, most of them were right where he wanted them to be and he got close to complete game territory, getting an out into the eighth frame.
“I definitely felt really strong going through,” Strasburg said. “For some reason I couldn’t throw that changeup for a strike to Hanley (Ramirez). Felt like it would have been a good pitch. Maybe next time.
“That is the position I want to be in. I think that is going to make me a better pitcher in the long run. Every time out I want to go as deep as I can and keep it close.”
But Strasburg insists it wasn’t the weather or bad first innings.
“Get better feel for the pitches and stuff,” Strasburg said. “It is something that I wouldn’t say that I have struggled with because I have been trying to not go out there and give up a crooked number early. But if you can give up one or two early and just keep it close and give your guys a chance to get back in the ball game, or at least get the lead, that is what you are trying to do.”
“I think I just got to remember that my job is (to) execute pitches,” Strasburg said. “I can’t really worry about what happens once it leaves my hand. That is kind of trying to control the uncontrollable.”