Photo by Ian Koski / Nats Daily News
Not everything was at it seemed to be at the Nationals game this afternoon. What was expected to be a fairly full house to watch Stephen Strasburg, was a half-full park of enthusiastic fans. What was expected to be a show of dominance by Strasburg, was an effective, but not errorless, five inning outing by Strasburg. Four protestors ran onto the field in the bottom of the fifth to protest the decision to hold the All Star Game in Arizona next year, and were eventually lead off the field.
But, in the end, it was a win. Not a pretty win, by any stretch of the imagination, but home runs from Josh Willingham and Ryan Zimmerman lead the Nationals to a 5-3 win and a 2-1 series win over the Diamondbacks this afternoon at Nationals Park. Stephen Strasburg would put in five innings of work, with 85 pitches thrown, and seven strikeouts, all swinging. He was having some command issues, though, and after getting ahead in the count, he would sometimes struggle to finish the job. That’s part of his learning process, and something he’ll need to master.
The Nats put together a couple solid innings at the plate today, with strong performance from Willingham (2-4, 2B, HR, 2R) and Zimmerman (2-4, HR, 2R), and a good day for Desmond (1-3, RBI, BB) but those were about the only high points in the offense. Mike Morse’s trial run in right field has been not as good as anyone would have expected, and his 0-4 today didn’t help matters at all. After a double in the first, Dunn finished 1-4 on the day, once again 0-2 with RISP and 2 outs.
After pitching five innings, it looked like Strasburg might get a shot at the sixth inning, as he lead off the bottom of the fifth at the plate. However, the aforementioned protest cost him some valuable time, and Riggleman made the decision to yank him back after 85 pitches. Had the inning gone quickly, Strasburg would’ve had 1-2 more batters in the 6th, Riggleman said in the postgame press conference.
The Nationals have Monday off before they head to Atlanta for three games and then to Philly for three games. There are just 44 games remaining in the 2010 season, and the Nationals would need to win 30 of them to finish at .500, or just 9 of them to finish ahead of their 2009 season, and I would bet they win at least 22 of them, for a finishing record of 73-89.