Strasburg has become the new Zimmermann (Nats win 2-1)

Last season, Jordan Zimmermann went out start after start and delivered.

He put up a 2.94 ERA over his 32 starts and got just 12 wins all season. The Nationals struggled mightily to score runs in Zimmermann’s starts, and his win total suffered.

This season, Stephen Strasburg has gotten the Jordan Zimmermann treatment.

Strasburg came into tonight’s outing getting the second-lowest run support of any qualified starter in the majors, receiving just 2.69 runs per start. He had a 2.50 ERA entering tonight and had just three wins in his 13 starts.

That run support average has dropped tonight.

The Nats have put just three runners on base through five innings against Rockies starter Tyler Chatwood. None of those three runners have advanced past first base, and Chatwood has allowed just three balls out of the infield.

The Nats trail 1-0 after five innings, despite the fact that Strasburg has been pretty solid thus far.

The right-hander has allowed three hits and struck out six. He’s thrown 69 pitches to this point, and given up very few hard-hit balls.

The only run Strasburg surrendered came after he hit the No. 8 batter - Josh Rutledge - and allowed Rutledge to steal second base with ease. DJ LeMahieu then singled in Rutledge with two outs, providing the only run of the night thus far.

The Nats put up six runs two nights ago and five runs last night. Tonight, searching for their third win in a row, the offense is back to struggling, and Strasburg is getting a raw deal yet again.

Update: The Nationals finally got on the board in the sixth, thanks to back-to-back two-out knocks from Anthony Rendon and Ryan Zimmerman.

After Strasburg and Denard Span were set down to open the sixth, Rendon dropped a single into right for his second hit of the evening. Zimmerman then followed by slapping a double into the right field corner, and Rendon scooted around from first to tie the game 1-1.

Rendon has two of the Nats’ four hits tonight, and Zimmerman delivered the team’s first clutch hit of the night.

Strasburg’s at 82 pitches as he comes out to work the seventh.

Update II: Just like that, the Nats have a lead for Strasburg.

Ian Desmond has hit his third homer in as many games, smacking a 2-0 offering from Manny Corpas out to right-center to give the Nats a 2-1 lead as we go to the eighth.

It’s the 12th homer of the season for Desmond, who has tied Bryce Harper for the team lead. The Nats haven’t gotten much offensively tonight, but if the bullpen can make this hold up, it’ll be enough.

Strasburg’s done after seven fantastic innings of work. He allowed one run on five hits with no walks, one hit-batter and nine strikeouts. He threw 95 pitches, 63 for strikes.

Strasburg had everything working tonight. His fastball got up to 97 mph, his changeup was nasty, diving down and away from lefties, and his curveball buckled the knees of many a hitter. He’s in line for his fourth win of the season, with Drew Storen on for the eighth to try and keep this a 2-1 game.

Update III: Storen got into a jam in the eighth, but he worked out of it thanks to what might’ve been the nastiest stuff we’ve seen from him this season.

After walking Dexter Fowler leading off the inning and then committing a throwing error that allowed Fowler to move to second with one out, Storen showed off the goods, striking out Carlos Gonzalez - the National League leader in home runs - on a tailing 96 mph two-seamer, and then needing just three pitches to set down Michael Cuddyer with an 85 mph slider, getting a swinging third strike.

Storen has struggled mightily against left-handers this season, but he got one of the best in Gonzalez, locking him up on a pitch that had tremendous movement. Then he buried a hard slider into the dirt to get Cuddyer to end the inning, leaving Fowler stranded in scoring position.

Great stuff.

The Nats still hold their 2-1 lead as Rafael Soriano warms for the ninth.

Update IV: That’ll do it. Soriano picked up his 19th save of the season, finishing off a 2-1 win for the Nats.

This gives the Nats their third straight win, marking the first time they’ve strung together three consecutive victories since May 8-10. Yup, a six-week span separated their three-game winning streaks.

The Nats also move back to a game above .500 with the win, at 37-36. Baby steps.

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