VIERA, Fla. - In Davey Johnson's eyes, Stephen Strasburg had a bit too much adrenaline running through him while out on the mound today, leading to a little bit of wildness.
"Stras was too hyped up, amped up," Johnson said. "You could tell from the first pitch he threw he was loaded for bear. But other than that, everybody came through all right."
Johnson said he could understand Strasburg's emotions being high for the Nationals' Grapefruit League home opener; after all, as Strasburg said following his start, this is the first time he's really gotten to attack hitters since his five outings toward the end of the 2011 season.
"He was in such a good groove at the end of the year, but all winter long, waiting for this, to be a normal person ... he's an aggressive pitcher," Johnson said. "Boy, he's got a lot of talent. I'm sure he had a little adrenaline out there. I'm not sure how hard he was throwing, but he was amped. He settled down and really it looked like he just got loose in about the third inning. That was more the Stras type."
Johnson put some of the blame on himself for Tom Gorzelanny's poor outing today, saying a miscommunication with the bullpen forced him to leave the left-hander in the game longer than he wanted to.
The Nats' skipper intended for Gorzelanny to throw about 35 pitches and then give way to Ryan Mattheus, but the miscommunication forced Gorzelanny to keep throwing, even as Astros runners kept crossing the plate in the top of the fifth.
"Talking to Gorzo, he said he needed the work, but that's not the kind of work I want to give him," Johnson said. "I guess I'm rusty; Twelve years, no spring training. I guess I'm rusty, so put that one on me for letting him out there to take a beating. A lot of the guys were not sharp, threw a lot of pitches. Don't like to see that."
In Gorzelanny's one inning of work, he allowed a whopping seven runs, three hits and four walks.
Bryce Harper went 1-for-2 today after coming into the game in the top of the fifth inning, with the hit coming on an infield single to shortstop. Harper nearly made a really impressive defensive play late in the game when he laid out for a fly ball down the right field line, but he came up short, allowing the ball to trickle away. The play resulted in a triple for Houston's Brian Bixler, whereas if Harper had played the ball on a hop, he could've held Bixler to two bases.
Johnson was asked after the game if he would've preferred Harper to play it safe on the fly ball.
"At that point, make a great play," Johnson said. "What the heck. We're eight runs down. If we're protecting a two-run lead, probably play it a little differently. But I liked his hustle."
Dan Kolko was named MASNsports.com's Nationals beat writer after spending the last four years covering the Baltimore Ravens for MASN and also serving as the Web site's deputy managing editor. A University of Delaware graduate originally from Silver Spring, Md., Dan grew up a die-hard baseball fan and is thrilled for the opportunity to cover the Nationals. Before joining MASN, Dan worked in production at Comcast SportsNet in Bethesda, Md., and also interned at the "George Michael Sports Machine" in Washington, D.C.