The cause of Strasburg’s first-inning struggles - feeling “too good” (Nats win 11-1)


Score: Nationals 11, Cardinals 1

Recap: Wilson Ramos had a double and three RBIs, Danny Espinosa went 2-for-3 and the Nats turned a 1-1 tie in the third inning into an 8-1 lead after four en route to a blowout win.

Need to know: Four Nats relievers really turned in nice performances. Drew Storen, Craig Stammen, Christian Garcia and Luis Ayala breezed through scoreless frames, with Storen retiring old Nats nemesis Pete Kozma, Stammen setting the Cards down 1-2-3, Garcia striking out the side and Ayala locking down the win.

On deck: Monday, home vs. Astros, 6:05 p.m., on 1580am

VIERA, Fla. - It’s 10-1 Nationals here in the eighth, as the Nats’ reserves have piled on the runs this afternoon.

The guys following Stephen Strasburg to the mound have turned in nice work, as well. Matt Purke threw two scoreless, Drew Storen looked good in a clean sixth inning, Craig Stammen set the Cardinals down in order in the seventh and Christian Garcia struck out the side in a dominant eighth.

Strasburg, meanwhile, walked the first two batters he faced today, then allowed an RBI single to Allen Craig, the third Cardinals hitter up in the first inning.

What was the issue there early on? Well, Strasburg says he was actually feeling too good coming out of his work in the bullpen before this afternoon’s start.

Strasburg settled down after those early bumps in the road, and went three solid innings, allowing just the one run, two walks and two hits. He threw 48 pitches overall, and said he still had plenty left in the tank after his outing was done.

“Got some good work in,” Strasburg said. “I felt a little too good in the bullpen and tried to paint from the first pitch on instead of starting out with a little bit bigger zone and then working off of the middle of the plate. Made a good adjustment and didn’t really see any problems.”

Strasburg’s been working on a slider this spring, and he liked how the pitch felt today.

“It’s a thing where before, I’d kind of throw it easy, a little unsure of it,” he said. “But then like I said, in the ‘pen, it felt, like, really good. And then I go out there and I was almost overthrowing it. But then I took a step back and I started to get some better results with it.”

Strasburg has thrown quite a few sliders in his first two appearances, which is by design as he tries to get a better feel for it.

“It’s a pitch that I’ll mix in occasionally. I’d say I’m throwing it evenly with my curveball right now,” Strasburg said. “It’s kind of more of a pitch that I’ll throw to get contact instead of make the guy swing and miss.

“When I’m in a jam, I’m going to rely on the pitches that I’m confident in. It’s a pitch that I’m working on, and it’s the second game I’ve thrown it. It feels good. I like the results that I’m getting, kind of just another something that the hitters have to prepare for.”

Another thing Strasburg is trying to focus on this spring is holding runners and controlling the running game.

“It’s starting to become more second nature, but I kind of have the tendency where if I don’t get my glove up out of there, I have a tendency to kind of drift forward with my upper body and that kind of throws off my mechanics a little bit,” Strasburg said. “So it’s just something that I’m working on.”

Strasburg smiled when asked about the final play of his outing, when he sprinted over to cover first base on a ball in the hole on the right side, and stretched out to grab Danny Espinosa’s throw to the bag.

“I like to show off some athleticism every now and then,” Strasburg said. “I was kind of a little bit late, didn’t really read the ball off the bat too well. Then I realized it was kinda in the hole and I had to bust it over there. Espi made a great play.”

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