After being activated off the disabled list this morning for his first start since straining his lat muscle on May 31, Stephen Strasburg pitched a strong five innings and gave up just one run on one hit and struck out four for the Washington Nationals.
Despite the strong outing, the Nationals still fell to the Cleveland Indians 2-0.
The game was more of the reoccurring problem that has been facing pitcher Gio Gonzalez: run support, or lack thereof.
In the top of the seventh inning, the Nationals had the bases loaded after outfielder Jayson Werth hit a lead-off double followed by Ian Desmond getting hit by a pitch. Steven Lombardozzi then reached on a bunt, but the possible rally was spoiled when catcher Jhonatan Solano grounded into a double play, followed by a groundout from Roger Bernadina.
Despite the outcome of the game, the Washington Nationals can leave Cleveland with one key positive: Strasburg showed signs of his dominant ways in his first start since going on the DL. The Nationals right-hander showed good control of his fastball and made good use of his nasty breaking curve ball. Strasburg looked comfortable on the mound and showed very little signs of fatigue.
In the second and third innings, he plowed through the heart of the Indians lineup by ousting six straight batters. Strasburg needed a total of 27 pitches to get through both innings.
On top of his four strikeouts, he forced seven ground outs and four fly ball outs. Manager Davey Johnson pulled the hard-throwing ace after just 82 pitches, but it certainly looked like he could have gone longer if he had been allowed.
While the Nationals dropped two of three games in Cleveland, the promising return of Strasburg should certainly have the team looking up as they head to Philly to take on the Philadelphia Phillies in what could turn out to be a key NL East matchup for the Nationals.