PHILADELPHIA - Stephen Strasburg couldn’t have asked for a much better start than the one he’s gotten through three innings.
Strasburg has held the Phillies hitless thus far, has struck out six, and has yet to allow a ball out of the infield.
The lone blemish on his line so far is a two-out walk to Chase Utley in the first. Other than that, it’s been smooth sailing for the Nationals’ right-hander.
Strasburg struck out the side in the first, with all three Ks coming on curveballs. He then got Pete Orr swinging at a changeup in the second, and two more strikeouts followed in the third, as former National Roger Bernadina and Phillies starter Cole Hamels both going down on curveballs.
If math isn’t your thing, that makes five of Strasburg’s six strikeouts that have been on curves.
That’s a decent indicator of how sharp that pitch has been tonight.
Strasburg has needed 53 pitches to get through three innings, however, so I’m sure pitching coach Steve McCatty would like to see his right-hander get fewer Ks and find a way to minimize his pitches from here on out.
Hamels was one pitch away from striking out the side himself in the first, but Zimmerman was able to foul off two 0-2 pitches before crushing a fastball into the bleachers in left-center.
It’s Zimmerman’s 16th homer of the season, which still ranks fourth on the Nats behind Jayson Werth (21), Ian Desmond (20), Bryce Harper (19) and Adam LaRoche (18).
The Nats have a very good shot to have five guys finish with 20 or more homers, which is pretty darn impressive.
Update: Strasburg notched one more strikeout in the fourth, but he also allowed a run to tie the game 1-1 as we go to the fifth.
Jimmy Rollins reached on a leadoff walk to open the fourth, then moved to second on a wacky play where Wilson Ramos had his pick-off throw down to first bounce off the bat of Chase Utley and ricochet away.
Rollins then took advantage of Strasburg’s tendency to forget about baserunners and took a gigantic lead off second. Rollins was at least halfway to third before Strasburg delivered a pitch to Carlos Ruiz, and the Phillies’ shortstop then scored easily when Ruiz dropped a softly-hit single into shallow center.
It was the first hit of the game off Strasburg, and it tied to score 1-1.