Strasburg exorcises demons in dominant win over Braves; now Roark's turn

This season has been about dominant pitching. Right-hander Stephen Strasburg continued that trend with seven innings on Monday in a 4-2 win over the Braves that brought the Nationals' magic number down to two to win the National League East. The San Diego State product allowed five hits, no runs, no walks and struck out seven for his 12th win. He has never pitched this far into a season (202 innings), not to mention this far into September, when the Nationals had a great opportunity to clinch the division. Manager Matt Williams noted after the game that Strasburg woke up with a stiff neck. Strasburg has had issues in Atlanta before with the humid weather and the grip on his breaking ball that have caused him major problems, even to the point of having to leave games. He came into Monday's start 0-3 with a 7.17 ERA against Atlanta this season. strasburg sunset throwing sidebar.jpgIt might have been easy for Strasburg to let those issues get to him again if things did not go well early on Monday. But he got off to a good start and his team battled through a determined Ervin Santana, who's slider was biting the ground early. The Nationals scored single runs in the third and fifth frames to take the lead. Strasburg then sealed the lead with the base hit in the seventh that scored Asdrubal Cabrera and the Nationals led 3-0. That hit turned into the game-deciding run. The Nationals held off a Braves rally, 4-2. That Braves rally involved Rafael Soriano. Yup, duly noted. Let's talk about that later. The Nationals need one more win in Atlanta to seal their second division crown in three seasons. If that happens, Strasburg would most likely start game one of the postseason. That way he would be available for game five if necessary. He would be starting a playoff game for the first time in his career and it would be on his home field of Nats Park. It is the place he is most comfortable when pitching, his bullpen, his mound and his crowd. Nats Park would also be the site of game five if it had to occur. If he can pitch in the postseason and pitch well, it would mark a nice comeback from Tommy John surgery, which would look like a hiccup in his career instead of the emotional fissure it holds right now -- in separating the start of his baseball run to today's second chance. Tanner Roark, who is garnering the most innings (185 1/3) of his young major league career, has a chance tonight to clinch the division against the very difficult Aaron Harang at Turner Field. Roark began his career with the Nationals on this very same field last season. It would be an exclamation point on Roark's run this season if he can accomplish that goal tonight. Roark winning tonight would also be an exclamation point for this staff, alongside Jordan Zimmermann, Gio Gonzalez, Doug Fister and Strasburg, they have been one of the most dominant staffs in the National League in a memorable season that is one step away from beginning again.

More details on how Davis helped accident victims
Orioles have used a special blend of talent and ch...

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to