More on Strasburg, Nathan and this week’s pitching matchups

Some day-after tidbits, quotes and thoughts as the Nationals lick their wounds from a tough weekend in Philadelphia and now prepare to host the Cardinals the next three days ...

* It got lost in the shuffle after the ninth-inning drama Sunday, but Stephen Strasburg put together a very nice start. And it could easily have been a great start if not for some unfortunate developments behind him in the field.

Strasburg allowed three runs over seven innings, providing the lengthy start the Nationals needed to give their bullpen a breather. The right-hander, as he often does, insisted he approached this one no different than any other start, even knowing what his team specifically needed from this outing.

“You can’t go in there like that,” he said. “It’s no different than a guy pitching a perfect game the night before. It’s out of my control. So I’m going to go out there when it’s my turn to pitch. I’m going to give it everything I’ve got, and hopefully it’s deep into the game. If it’s not, it’s not.”

The three earned runs charged to Strasburg easily could have been zero. That’s because the Phillies’ first run scored on a Freddy Galvis groundball single that was hit right to the traditional shortstop position but was empty because the Nats’ infield was shifted around to the right.

Strasburg-Throws-Blue-Sidebar.jpg“Obviously they wouldn’t be (shifting) if it didn’t add advantage, but it’d be interesting to see where guys hit the ball,” Strasburg said. “Freddy Galvis, I’ve faced him ... I don’t know how many years I’ve faced him. I don’t think he’s really a pull guy on me. But I could have thrown a better changeup there, too. It happens. It’s my job to tell them where to play, and I let it pass.”

Three innings later, Strasburg was in position to retreat to the dugout after getting César Hernández to ground to the right side of the infield with two outs. But Adam Lind was slow to cover first base and Daniel Murphy had to delay his throw ever so slightly, getting it to Lind a split-second too late to nab Hernández. Andrew Knapp, the runner on third base at the time, scored on the play and kept the inning alive. Moments later, Howie Kendrick doubled Hernández home, making it 3-0.

“He made big-time quality pitches,” manager Dusty Baker said. “Stras really should’ve only given up one run, and it would’ve been a different ballgame.”

* If you missed it last night, the Nationals have re-signed Joe Nathan to a minor league contract, a source familiar with the deal confirmed. The 42-year-old is expected to report to Triple-A Syracuse.

The Nathan signing wasn’t a reaction to the Nationals’ bullpen performance during the season’s first week. It had been in the works for a while, the source said, with Nathan expressing interest in re-signing with the club after he was released the final week of spring training (unless another team offered him a big league job).

What can be expected of Nathan? We’ll see. There’s no immediate guarantee of a promotion to the majors, and the veteran reliever has a lot to prove after missing most of the last two seasons while recovering from his second Tommy John surgery.

The Nationals did like what they saw from Nathan this spring, though, and believe he could help them not only on the mound but in the clubhouse as a mentor for the younger members of this bullpen.

* The pitching matchups for this week’s series against the Cardinals ...

Tonight (7:05 p.m.): Tanner Roark vs. Adam Wainwright
Tuesday (7:05 p.m.): Gio Gonzalez vs. Lance Lynn
Wednesday (4:05 p.m.): Max Scherzer vs. Mike Leake

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