For the second game in a row, a Nationals starting pitcher was unable to get through five innings against the Giants.
On Friday night, right-hander Stephen Strasburg left with right shoulder inflammation. He threw 35 pitches and lasted only two innings.
“A win is a win is a win is a win,” Nats manager Davey Martinez said. “That’s exactly how I describe it. The boys held on. We scored early. We held on. Gio (Gonzalez) had a high pitch count, and I didn’t want him throwing over 100 pitches. The bullpen came in and held them down.”
After Saturday’s game, Martinez confirmed Strasburg will go on the 10-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation.
“He’s going to go on the DL, but we don’t know what we’re going to do yet,” Martinez said. “And there’s no timetable. I mean, right now just let him rest until we get that inflammation out of there. We’re going to let him rest.”
Martinez was cautiously relieved to find out Strasburg’s problem is just inflammation, but still it is a shoulder injury. In a pitcher such as Strasburg who throws with so much power, it is a cause for concern.
“I honestly thought just the inflammation was a good thing and that nothing else was wrong structural,” Martinez said. “As soon as we can get that to calm down a little bit and get him throwing again, we’ll be fine.”
Saturday afternoon, left-hander Gonzalez struggled with control, walking four batters allowing four runs on six hits in just 3 1/3 innings. He had to throw 97 pitches to record 10 outs. Gonzalez walked two batters in the third and two batters in the fourth.
“He just got too many 3-2 counts, 2-2, 3-2,” Martinez noticed. “He got ahead. He just couldn’t finish it off. Those guys have a pretty good lineup over there, a lot of right-handed hitters. Those guys, they worked the count, got him up to 3-2, and his pitch count got up.”
The offense came alive early for the Nats as they built a 5-0 lead, and two additional runs turned out to be key when the Giants nipped away late. Bryce Harper hit his 19th homer of the season and Matt Adams cracked a two-run double. Anthony Rendon went 1-for-4 with two RBIs. Trea Turner also had a run-scoring single.
Adam Eaton looked strong in his first game since early April. Eaton was hit by a pitch and scored the Nats’ first run in the first inning. In the second he singled and also came around to score. He finished 1-for-4 with two runs scored.
“It was good. We didn’t really waste any time getting on base, and was able to have some fun out there,” Eaton said. “And I got to third base in my second at-bat and asked how I felt, and I said ‘Well, I’m about at round six with Mike Tyson.’ I feel like I was so tired. I’m so out of shape, it’s unbelievable. I’m pretty tired right now as well. It’s good though. The knee reacted really well.”
The Nats face more pitcher health concerns besides Strasburg after reliever Brandon Kintzler left in the eighth.
“He’s got a tight forearm,” Martinez said. “He’s going to get evaluated by a doctor, and he’ll get an MRI tomorrow. He just told me. The first time I heard it was today.”
Miller (3-0) has been a revelation for a bullpen that has been put to heavy use the last few games. The Nats bullpen tossed more than five innings for the fourth time in the last six games.
Miller was right in the middle of it again Saturday, getting the club out of a jam in the fourth when Gonzalez left with the bases loaded and one out. The Giants got one run on a sacrifice fly by Andrew McCutchen, but no more. Miller now has 17 strikeouts in seven games with the Nats.
“I’ve had success before, when I was with the Rockies,” Miller said. “I went on a strikeout run with them. I’ve always been kind of a strikeout guy. I’m just trying to fill up the zone. If they swing through it, they swing through it, but I’m just trying to fill up the zone and just trying to get outs.”
Miller still has not allowed an earned run or a walk, and has given up just one hit in nine full innings of work since his arrival. Doolittle recorded the final four outs for his 16th save.