Johnson talks Strasburg, offensive futility after 5-1 loss

First things first - after tonight’s 5-1 loss to the Rockies, Davey Johnson clarified some earlier comments in which it sounded like he planned on pushing Stephen Strasburg back in the rotation coming out of the All-Star break.

Turns out, what Johnson meant was that he’ll decide when Strasburg will start next based on how much the righty works in the All-Star Game. Same goes with Gio Gonzalez, who also is a part of the National League All-Star roster.

“I’m going to base when I pitch him on that scenario,” Johnson said.

Strasburg’s last start before the break was pretty solid all in all. The righty allowed just three runs (two earned) in six innings of work and struck out six Rockies.

All three of the runs he allowed, however, came on Tyler Colvin home runs - a solo bomb in the second and a two-run shot in the fourth.

“I thought he threw the ball well,” Johnson said. “He made two mistakes to Colvin. Got him two strikes that first time up, and he was trying to throw the ball up and in, and he left it out over the middle of the plate, and he crushed it. The other time with Colvin, he got the changeup up out over the plate, and he got a hold of that one, too. Just two mistakes.

davey-johnson-red-sidebar.jpg“He pitched better the next time. But I thought he threw the ball good. He had some bloop hits and stuff, but just that one guy. I thought he threw the ball well.”

The reason Strasburg never really had much of a shot at his 10th win of the season was Drew Pomeranz, a 23-year-old left-handed rookie that the Rockies sent to the mound. Pomeranz recorded his first win of the season by holding the Nationals scoreless over 6 1/3 innings, allowing just one hit in that time.

Strangely enough, he got by with basically just one pitch - his fastball. Of the 81 pitches Pomeranz delivered, 74 were heaters.

“He got us out strictly on fastballs,” Johnson said. “A little fastball, a little cutter. He was wild enough. We chased out of the zone. Again, that’s a little inexperience. Danny (Espinosa) is a good fastball hitter, but he went after pitches out of his happy area. That’s just being a little anxious to make something happen. He’s basically a thrower, and you’ve got to make him come to you. Everybody in the ballpark knew he couldn’t get his breaking ball over from the first inning on. And it was just fastball, cutter.

“Even the veteran hitters, we didn’t get the head out on the fastball in. Sometimes when you know what’s coming, you’re a little overly aggressive, and you’re swinging at pitches that you can’t really center on that well. He had a good live fastball, but when that’s the only thing you’re throwing ...”

Given that the Nats just earned a three-game sweep over the Giants, one of the top teams in baseball, it’s a bit of a surprise to see them get pushed around by a Rockies team which entered tonight tied for the worst record in the majors.

Johnson feels the Giants series might have factored into his team’s performance tonight.

“We might have had a little bit of a letdown,” Johnson said. “We had a big series with San Francisco. But that’s the kind of guy, when you get a little more experience, that you should hit.”

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