DETROIT - Stephen Strasburg saw tonight's outing much in the same way Davey Johnson did.
Johnson felt that Strasburg was cruising for much of his start but made one mistake, leaving a fastball over the heart of the plate to Alex Avila with two outs and the bases loaded in the sixth.
Yeah, Strasburg's on board with that assessment.
"I pitched well, minus one pitch," Strasburg said. "It's tough. It's baseball. I tried to throw a fastball away, and it came back over and he put a good swing on it. They're obviously a really good hitting team. I thought the positive is, I told myself after it happened, 'I'm not going to give in. I'm going to go out there and keep battling.' And I was able to recover pretty well after that."
That is a positive, for sure, but when the Nationals continue to not score runs in games started by Strasburg, being able to recover well after the opponent puts up a crooked number only means so much.
Strasburg even admitted that the circumstances over the last few months affected how he attacked Avila in that situation.
"The way it's been going, I felt like there wasn't much room for error," Strasburg said. "So I knew I had to go right after him and make him swing the bat. He put a good swing on it."
The Nationals are now 10 games back in the division, their largest deficit of the season. But Strasburg isn't getting caught up in thinking big-picture from a team perspective at this point.
"I pitch once every five days. I give it everything I've got the day I pitch," Strasburg said. "And if it doesn't turn out the way you hope, then you do your best to learn from it and get them the next time."
Wilson Ramos has been very complimentary of Strasburg each of the right-hander's last few times out, and he heaped praise on Strasburg again tonight.
"I'm happy because for how he's throwing right now," Ramos said. "That happens in the game. It's one pitch. Especially in that situation. But for me, he threw well. He threw very well. The next inning, he came out, still throwing well. That's what we want to see in him. He never put his head down. He kept fighting. It was just one pitch. It happens in the game. You have to keep fighting.
"He's got a plan right now on the mound. It's very hard when you see that kind of game. One pitch changed the game. I want to see that guy every time he's on the mound. I want to see that guy like that.
Anibal Sanchez is now 9-1 in 21 career starts against the Nats, and his ERA against them drops to 1.98 after tonight's seven innings of one-run ball. The Nats got to Sanchez for a run in the first and then tallied just two hits off him over his final six innings.
"With him you can't really, I guess, count hits," Ian Desmond said. "He's going to give up his hits. That's just the way he is. He navigates through the lineup pretty well. He doesn't mind giving up a hit and then getting a ground ball, double play, walking a guy to get to a weaker hitter, whatever it may be, he knows how to navigate his way through a lineup.
"He's solid. Just as much as we're coming around the third time, he's hoping we're coming around the third time because he's just going to keep on doing his things, making adjustments off last at-bat, whatever.
Some Nationals players might be monitoring the Braves to see if Atlanta will fall back, allowing the Nats to make a late run at the division title. Desmond isn't in that group.
"I really could care less what the Braves do," he said. "We're (three) games under .500. ... We got to worry about ourselves. That's first and foremost and then the rest will take care of itself."