Nats’ catchers continue to crush Reds pitching (Nats trail as Strasburg leaves)

In their last four at-bats against Reds pitching, the Nationals’ catchers are 3-for-4 with three home runs and six RBIs.

Wilson Ramos did some damage yesterday, crushing two homers in the Nats’ 11-inning win.

In his first at-bat today, Kurt Suzuki got the Nats on the board in the second inning, taking a 1-1 slider from Johnny Cueto and smoking it out to left for a three-run shot.

Suzuki has his first hit of the 2013 season, and the Nats have a tie ballgame. It’s 3-3 midway through the second inning.

The Reds got three runs off Stephen Strasburg in the first despite having only one hit leave the infield.

A walk and two infield hits were followed by a Jay Bruce double to left-center, which plated two runs. Todd Frazier then brought in another on a run-scoring groundout.

Strasburg can now trot to the mound in the second with a clean slate, however. The Nats have come right back to knot this game.

They already have had seven hitters reach base on Cueto through just two innings. The 19-game winner from a year ago has been smacked around early on and has allowed five hits and two walks already.

We were expecting a pitchers’ duel today. So far, it’s been anything but.

Update: We’re through five innings, and after slow starts for both Strasburg and Cueto, the two aces have settled down and found a groove.

Strasburg has allowed six hits and walked four through five, but he’s put up four straight zeros and struck out five. He’s at 92 pitches thus far.

His command hasn’t been excellent for much of today, especially with his off-speed stuff, but Strasburg has battled and kept his team in it.

Cueto has really settled in, striking out four in the last two innings. His changeup has really been impressive over the last couple frames.

It’s still 3-3 in the rubber game as we go to the sixth.

Update II: A three-run bottom of the sixth has given the Reds a 6-3 lead and knocked Strasburg from the ballgame.

With runners at the corners and nobody down, Danny Espinosa could’ve opted to turn a 4-6-3 double play, allowing a run to score but clearing the bases. Instead, Espinosa made a throw home trying to cut down the lead runner, but the speedy Derrick Robinson slid in ahead of the tag from Suzuki, and everyone was safe.

Espinosa’s throw was to the first base side of home plate, and Suzuki had no shot at applying the tag before Robinson touched home.

That led to a lengthy sixth inning, in which two more runs came around to score. Ryan Mattheus came out of the ‘pen to relieve Strasburg and he left the bases loaded to end the sixth, but the Reds had already done some damage. Strasburg leaves having allowed six runs (all earned) on nine hits with four walks and five strikeouts.

Strasburg threw 114 pitches (the second-most of his career), 73 for strikes.

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