If you woke up Tuesday morning in anticipation of a Stephen Strasburg-Jason Heyward match-up at Nationals Park later that evening, the odds of the last place Nationals coming away with a shutout win against the first place Atlanta Braves might not have seemed too far-fetched.
The Nationals did go on to shutout the Braves 3-0 but Strasburg didn’t pitch, Heyward didn’t get a hit, and Miguel Batista got the win.
Strasburg was scratched from the Nats lineup about 8-10 minutes before 7 p.m. according to Manager Jim Riggleman due to inflammation in his right shoulder. The crowd had no clue until Batista took the mound at game time.
“It was probably going to be between Batista or [Collin] Balester,” Riggleman said about the emergency decision. “I didn’t expect anybody to go out there and throw five [innings]…,” but that’s what the Nats bullpen did – and then some.
It would’ve been easy to go ahead and assume the Nats didn’t stand a chance against this dominant squad managed by Bobby Cox. Who knows what kind of mental game-time damage that emergency change could have warranted, but they showed no sign of distress from the moment the game started.
Lead-off man Nyjer Morgan went on two steal two basses in what felt like a hot-second, including home to score against the Braves Tommy Hanson as early as possible.
“I think [Morgan] getting on base immediately picked the whole ballclub up,” Riggleman said.
Besides some sparkling defense at shortstop today, Ian Desmond went 2-for-3 with 2-RBI’s in the second bringing the Nats run tally to three.
They stopped scoring after that, but the Nats bullpen continued to provide the sellout crowd of 40,043 the show they so desperately wanted.
Sean Burnett held the Atlanta offense scoreless through two innings. Drew Storen caught the Braves in a three-up three-down fashion with two strikeouts and a pop out to Josh Willingham in left field. Then, Matt Capps came in to finish her off notching his 25 save of his All-Star season completing the Nats fourth shutout in 2010.
On Strasburg: He was shut-down due to shoulder stiffness and discomfort. Strasburg left during tonight’s game to go for an MRI, X-Ray, and a slew of medical tests including a capsule test by the Nationals team doctor. The X-Ray was negative. The MRI showed no changes when compared to the MRI first taken when Strasburg was originally drafted by the team last year. He was diagnosed with a little inflammation in the shoulder, according to GM Mike Rizzo and his status is still day-to-day.