Right-hander Stephen Strasburg took the 4-2 loss Friday night against the Brewers. Two early home runs by Scooter Gennett and Khris Davis set the tone. But a two-out walk turned into a huge play in the game.
It came in the third, with Milwaukee already leading 2-0. Strasburg had set down Kyle Lohse and Carlos Gomez to begin the inning. But it only took four pitches to get Gennett on base.
Ryan Braun followed with a double. Aramis Ramirez then blooped a single down the right field line that scored two and the Brewers had two huge add-on runs to make it 4-0.
The Nationals chipped away with an RBI double from Ian Desmond and a solo shot from Bryce Harper, but were unable to piece together anything else despite 11 hits on the night.
Strasburg went back to that bloop hit as a key moment in the game.
"Just missed my spot on a couple of pitches. That's kind of just how the ball drops," Strasburg said. "Got in on Ramirez's hands hard and he just dumped it out there into right. That was the one that was the most frustrating. You're going to give up homers in this game. As long as they are solo ones you're going to be OK. Not much I could do there, just make a better pitch.
"Talking to (pitching coach Steve McCatty) about it, it can always be a better pitch. I mean, he's a pretty good hitter. You want to get weak contact. So I've just got to do a better job of making him hit it on the ground next time."
Strasburg dissected his most famous pitch - the fastball - and talked about how he is building back velocity with it since his offseason surgery.
"I'd say the fastball command has been pretty good for the most part. Velocity has been down a little bit," Strasburg said. "But that's something that happens. I'm not too worried about it. I think it's starting to pick back up. Maybe I am throwing too many strikes. Maybe I need to be a little bit more effectively wild."
Strasburg went to a teammate who had past surgery and asked him how he got his velocity to return to normal, step by step. Drew Storen went through right elbow surgery to remove a small bone fragment in 2012, while Strasburg had bone chips removed from his right elbow last offseason.
"Just talking to Drew - kind of what the surgery that he had, it was kind of similar," Strasburg said. "It feels great and everything, but it takes a little bit of time to get it back. I'm not saying that it's going to be triple digits but I think with the mechanical adjustments I have made working with Cat, it seemed to help me feel more comfortable out there, especially early innings where I can just let it go."
Strasburg noted that his strategy sessions with McCatty have netted a ton of fruit this season, and he learns a lot about what he should be doing in a game like Friday's hard-luck setback.
"You just got to keep them off-balance," Strasburg said. "I think everybody is going to have the same plan against me. I make better pitches, I need to use it to my advantage. They're going to be aggressive. As long as I execute the pitches the way I know I can, I am going to get good results."