CLEARWATER, Fla. - Davey Johnson tried to give Stephen Strasburg four full innings of work this afternoon, but after Strasburg gave up a two-out single and a walk in the fourth, "Captain Hook" came trotting out of the dugout to get his right-handed starter.
Strasburg finishes his third spring outing having allowed two runs on five hits. He walked one, struck out six, hit a batter and threw one wild pitch in 3 2/3 innings.
The Nationals' ace threw 67 pitches, 40 strikes this afternoon.
Strasburg was red-hot out of the gates, facing just one over the minimum and striking out five in his first two innings of work. He then allowed two runs on three hits and a hit-by-pitch in the third inning, and was unable to get through the fourth.
Fernando Abad relieved Strasburg in the fourth and got Ben Revere to ground out to end the inning and leave two runners stranded.
Meanwhile, the batter that Strasburg plunked in the third inning was Chase Utley, the oft-injured Phillies second baseman. A Strasburg fastball drilled Utley on the left ankle, which I'm sure caused those in the Phillies dugout to hold their breath for a second, until Utley hopped up and jogged down to first base.
The hit-by-pitch came with two runners on and a run already in in the third inning.
Interestingly, Phillies starter Roy Halladay then fired a fastball behind the back of Tyler Moore in the top of the fourth. Halladay retired Steve Lombardozzi and Anthony Rendon before throwing behind Moore.
The Phillies right-hander had pretty good control this afternoon, walking just one over his four innings of work. It would've been a pretty bad miss for him to send a fastball about three feet off the plate.
Was it a message being sent to the Nationals' dugout after Utley was drilled the previous inning? We'll see what the Nats have to say afterwards.
It's 2-0 Phillies as we head to the fifth.
Update: The Phillies put up two runs on Abad in the fifth inning, making it a 4-0 game for a short time. This is Abad's first blemish of spring after previously delivering three scoreless outings.
Rendon helped jump-start the Nationals in the sixth, however, smacking a solo homer to the opposite field.
This gives Rendon three homers this spring. He's now batting .400 (8-for-20), with three home runs, three doubles and eight RBIs in nine games played.
Rendon has three home runs in 20 at-bats (and it was nearly four, if not for a fantastic defensive play by Mets outfielder Matt den Dekker). The rest of the Nationals have five home runs in over 370 at-bats this spring.
Yeah, the kid can hit.
The Nationals put up a three-spot in the sixth, with Micah Owings delivering an RBI double and Carlos Rivero bringing in a run with a single. It's 4-3 Phillies after six innings.