Strasburg’s spring debut goes smoothly, ends quickly (game update)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Stephen Strasburg barely had time to get loose today and his spring debut was already over.

Strasburg went two innings against the Braves this afternoon, facing the minimum six hitters. He allowed a groundball single to Justin Upton in the second, but then got a 6-4-3 double play off the bat of Chris Johnson to end the inning and his outing.

In total, Strasburg threw just 15 pitches, nine for strikes.

He had a nine-pitch first, getting a first-pitch flyout to left off the bat of Jason Heyward, striking out B.J. Upton swinging and then benefiting from a sliding catch by center fielder Brian Goodwin, who robbed Freddie Freeman of a base hit.

In the second, Strasburg got Evan Gattis to ground out to second, then followed the Justin Upton single by inducing the double play off the bat of Johnson.

Strasburg’s fastball sat at 94 mph on the stadium gun and he touched 96 mph.

He showed off a nice curveball to B.J. Upton that Upton took for a strike, and mixed in what looked like a few changeups. I’ll need to ask Strasburg in a bit whether he experimented with the slider today, a pitch he’s been working on this spring.

Strasburg also had a chance to work on holding a runner after the Justin Upton single. That’s also been a focus of his this spring as he tries to vary his times to the plate and do a better job controlling the running game.

He gave Upton a long look before the first pitch to Johnson, then delivered one pick-off throw before his second pitch.

Taylor Jordan takes over for Strasburg here in the bottom of the third inning.

Offensively for the Nationals, Ian Desmond smoked a first-pitch Kris Medlen fastball off the left field wall for a first-inning double, but after Desmond moved to third on a Bryce Harper flyout to right, Ryan Zimmerman grounded out to short to end the inning.

Nate McLouth drew a two-out walk off Medlen in the third but was thrown out trying to steal to end the inning.

Update: The Nats have taken the lead in the fourth, with Adam LaRoche’s run-scoring fielder’s choice and Wilson Ramos’ RBI single making it a 2-0 Washington lead.

Desmond got the inning going with a single to left-center, then stole second, his third stolen base in three tries already this spring. As a team, the Nats have swiped seven bags in four-plus games and are 7-for-8 in stolen base attempts.

Harper then walked (his third base-on-balls in five plate appearances this spring) and Zimmerman singled, setting up the RBI opportunities for LaRoche and Ramos.

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