PHILADELPHIA - Stephen Strasburg and Cole Hamels are locked in a pitchers’ duel through six innings.
Each All-Star has allowed just one run on two hits. Strasburg has struck out 10 and allowed just three balls out of the infield. Hamels has allowed just two baserunners since the first inning.
The difference in this 1-1 game is that Strasburg is going to need to exit after six innings, while Hamels should be good for a little while longer.
Strasburg was mowing Phillies batters down with relative ease, but his 10 strikeouts caused his pitch count to rise quickly. He needed 100 pitches to get through his six frames, while Hamels needed just 77.
Strasburg allowed just one unearned run tonight, which came around after a throwing error charged to catcher Wilson Ramos after Ramos’ attempted pick-off throw to first deflected off of Chase Utley’s bat. Strasburg allowed just the two hits, walked two and threw 64 of his 100 pitches for strikes.
A tremendous outing, but one that he surely wishes he could extend for another inning or two.
That’s why pitching coach Steve McCatty hates strikeouts; they keep the ball from being put in play, but they force a pitcher to work harder to record an out.
This is the second straight outing against the Phillies in which Strasburg notched 10 strikeouts; he also got double-digit Ks in his complete-game win over Philadelphia on Aug. 11.
That outing was a rarity, though; you don’t often see a complete-game effort with 10 strikeouts in which a pitcher threw just 99 pitches.
Update: Scott Hairston was a pitch away from donning a Golden Sombrero (the term for a player striking out four times in a game), but he instead delivered the go-ahead run with a sac fly in the top of the eighth, giving the Nats a 2-1 lead.
The Nats loaded the bases with one out after Anthony Rendon’s one-out single and back-to-back walks drawn by Chad Tracy and Bryce Harper. That brought up Hairston to face lefty Cesar Jimenez, and after getting behind 0-2, Hairston was able to lift a fly ball to shallow left-center.
Cesar Hernandez, a natural second baseman who is playing center field tonight for some bizarre reason, fired home, but his throw was way, way off the mark. Rendon slid in safely, and the Nats have a lead.
Hamels was pulled after just seven innings and 87 pitches, setting the scene for the Phillies bullpen to give up the run in the eighth. Either Hamels is injured, or Ryne Sandberg just made a very strange pitching decision.
Update II: Tyler Clippard has been tremendous this season. Tonight, he had a rare blip, and what was a 2-1 Nats lead is now a 3-2 deficit going to the ninth.
Clippard retired the first two hitters he faced in the eighth inning, but he then walked Hernandez and left a 2-2 fastball to Rollins belt-high and right down the middle. Rollins crushed it for a game-tying double, and after an intentional walk to Chase Utley, Carlos Ruiz ripped an RBI single to left that scored Rollins with the go-ahead run.
Harper charged the Ruiz single and came up throwing to the plate, but his throw was just a little bit up the third base line and Wilson Ramos’ sweep tag was just not in time to get Rollins at the plate. Rollins did well to slide to the right field side of the plate, and his hand barely got in with the Phillies’ third run of the night.
It’ll be Jonathan Papelbon trying to close this out for the Phillies in the ninth. Jayson Werth, Ian Desmond and Adam LaRoche are due up.
Update III: That’ll do it. Desmond and LaRoche delivered back-to-back singles with one out in the ninth, but Ramos and Rendon both struck out with the tying run at third base, closing out a 3-2 Nats loss.
The Nats drop back to one game over .500 with the loss, and coupled with a Reds win, they’re now 7 1/2 games back of Cincinnati in the wild card chase with 25 games remaining on their schedule.
A crushing defeat tonight.