Stephen Strasburg has given up eight hits in the first five innings, and the slap-hitting Royals finally pushed a run across against him in the fourth inning on Jose Guillen’s single. But he’s still in the game, after it looked like manager Jim Riggleman might take him out in the fifth.
Riggleman put Willie Harris in the on-deck circle with runners on second and third in the fifth, suggesting he would pinch hit for Strsaburg. But he’s a fan of using a pinch hitter to get the batter before the pitcher a better pitch to hit. After Ian Desmond grounded out, Strasburg was back in the game to hit.
The Nationals missed a golden chance to get Strasburg the lead in the fifth. Josh Willingham walked to start the inning, and stole second. But his right ankle got caught underneath his left one, and he missed the bag. He was safe because Jason Kendall’s throw sailed into center field, but it looked like Willingham rolled his ankle. He got to third fine on Ivan Rodriguez’s base hit, but on Adam Kennedy’s bouncer to first, Willingham went halfway home, and froze. He got back to third on time, but couldn’t score, and put the Nats in danger of losing a runner. If you’re going to go that far, shouldn’t you just take a shot?
So it’s still 1-0 Royals in the sixth, which will probably be Strasburg’s last inning. A missed opportunity could be looming.