CLEARWATER, Fla. - Now that we've gotten all the dramatic stuff out of the way ...
Outside of the fastball to Chase Utley that nailed the Phillies second baseman in the left ankle, Stephen Strasburg was pretty pleased with his stuff and his outing overall.
Strasburg allowed two runs on five hits over 3 2/3 innings, striking out six and walking one. He threw 67 pitches, 40 for strikes, battling through a stiff wind.
The right-handed grooved through his first two innings of work, striking out five in that time, before hitting a bit of trouble in the third, when he allowed two runs.
"I felt pretty good," Strasburg said. "I had a tough time getting on top of my curveball there at the end. It was tough conditions and I think (I'm) probably not going to pitch in something like that any other time unless we're pitching here in Florida.
"I think the biggest thing (in these conditions) is just getting a grip. It's just dry and stuff. You'll get a little crosswind and stuff and you really can't worry about that. I think the biggest thing was I was able to get a good grip on my breaking ball early. As the game went on, for some reason I just kept on hanging it. That was one I just wasn't able to get back in the count with it."
Strasburg's changeup was on point today. He used the change to strike out four left-handers this afternoon - Utley, Ryan Howard and Laynce Nix (twice).
"It's definitely the first pitch of everything to really start to come back," Strasburg said. "I'm getting the movement that I want. Just really want to keep it there and not try and change anything with that.
"Just keep on working on fastball command. Really felt like that was good early on and definitely an improvement from the past couple games, especially going away. Last couple games I was really cutting the ball over there and not really catching any plate, just missing by a few inches off. I really think I was able to stay on line a lot better today."
Fernando Abad had his first hiccup of spring, allowing two runs on three hits in 1 1/3 innings. Abad, who is competing for the final spot in the Nationals' bullpen, got Strasburg out of a jam in the fourth by stranding two runners, but got into his own jam in the fifth.
"He threw strikes," manager Davey Johnson said of the left-hander. "He left some balls over the middle of the plate and got hit. But I like him throwing strikes."
Anthony Rendon crushed another homer today, his third of spring. The home run didn't come off Roy Halladay, but Rendon still enjoyed getting a chance to face the two-time Cy Young Award winner.
"I guess it was a good experience, a good taste," Rendon said. "Obviously, nobody's in perfect midseason form right now, but it was good to I guess be on the same field as him and I guess face a guy you watched on TV not too long ago."
Rendon is now batting .400 on spring, with eight hits (six of which are for extra bases) in 20 at-bats.
"I'm just trying to go out here and have fun every day," he said. "I'm not trying to look at my numbers or whatever. Just go up there and try and put a good swing on the ball every time I hit."