courtesy of oddlittlebird.
What started out as a four inning pitching duel between former Nationals pitcher and current Chicago Cub Edwin Jackson and Washington’s Stephen Strasburg quickly turned in favor of Chicago due to a messy fifth inning performance from the young phenom. The Nats went on to lose the contest 8-2 on Saturday afternoon. The Cubs hit four unearned runs off of Strasburg in the fourth inning and four more earned runs off left-handed reliever Zach Duke in the fifth to win it.
Strasburg has struggled for the entirety of the 2013 season minus Opening Day. When he lets his emotions get the best of him – like he did Saturday – it’s easier to remember just how young he actually is. When Strasburg’s got his three pitches working for him, he’s a force to be reckoned with, but he’s still in the growing phase where he’s learning to deal with the adversity within the game itself. Manager Davey Johnson acknowledged that fact that the game.
“He’s too good a pitcher to let adversity behind him let him down. He’s certainly capable of picking us up. It’s a team effort,” Johnson said.
Strasburg did cruise through the first four innings of Saturday’s game, mowing down the Chicago lineup and recording seven strikeouts in five innings pitched. Strasburg gave up a total of five hits, four unearned runs, and walked two batters on 95 pitches (64 strikes).
In the first four innings alone, Strasburg faced 13 batters and gave up just one hit, a single to Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo. Then the fifth inning blew the game wide open. Strasburg and the Nationals’ defense retired the first two batters faced but a throwing error by Ryan Zimmerman seemed to put Strasburg off his game.
He struggled to get an out after that and faced five more batters after the error before retiring the side with the Cubs up 4-0.
It also didn’t help that the Nats’ offense was relatively silent against their former teammate Jackson who pitched one of his best, if not his best, game of the 2013 season so far. Washington only managed to get four hits and two runs off Jackson including an Ian Desmond solo homerun in the fifth inning. Outfielder Roger Bernadina, who Jackson walked with one out, also scored after Jackson was replaced by Chicago reliever Shawn Camp on a Desmond single hit to left field.
On another positive note, Washington got two solid innings of work from reliever Henry Rodriguez and a solid 1 1/3 inning performance from Ryan Mattheus, but Zach Duke struggled nearly as bad as Strasburg did.
In just 2/3 innings of work, Duke gave up four hits and four earned runs while throwing one wild pitch, hitting a batter, and only tallying one strikeout.
What the Nats need is a more consistent lineup – which is hard with Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper out, but someone else has got to step up – in order to fight back against teams who find ways to take advantage of when their pitching staff has an off day. Tyler Moore has been struggling at the plate during this series and hasn’t managed to get on base. But Steve Lombardozzi managed a one-out pinch hit triple in the seventh. It’s just too bad Lombardozzi doesn’t play outfield. Maybe it’s time to give him a few starts and see what happens.