Despite their best efforts, the Washington Nationals fell 3-2 against the San Francisco Giants in game one of the NLDS at Nationals Park on Friday in front of a sellout crowd of 44,035. Right-handed starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg tossed the first playoff game of his young career and tallied eight hits and two runs (one earned) after throwing 89 pitches and 58 strikes in five innings of work plus two batters. Strasburg walked a batter, hit a batter, and threw two strikeouts.
Strasburg’s outing — while not terrible — was far from his best this season. The two strikeouts he tallied are the fewest he’s thrown in a start while pitching five or more innings in his career. On the up side, he extended his scoreless inning stretch to 22 innings pitched before allowing an unearned run in the third, but that didn’t salvage the game for Washington.
The Giants struck first while sprinkling their three runs over the course of the game. Outfielder Travis Ishikawa scored on single hit by second baseman Joe Panik in the third inning, giving San Francisco a 1-0 lead before outfielder Hunter Pence scored off a single hit by first baseman Brandon Belt in the fourth inning; Giants 2, Nats 0.
Then, in the seventh inning, Panik led off with a triple off right-handed reliever Craig Stammen and proceeded to score on a single hit by catcher Buster Posey; Giants 3, Nats 0.
What it boils down to is that Washington’s troubles came in the form of Giants right-handed starter Jake Peavy. Peavy held the Nats’ offense to two hits over five and two-thirds innings pitched while striking out three and walking three on 104 pitches and 62 strikes.
Washington garnered a small glimmer of a hopeful spark in the fifth inning when outfielder Bryce Harper singled off Peavy for their first hit of the day but a more significant and productive spark made its way into the bottom half of the seventh inning as Harper crushed a leadoff homerun that landed in the upper deck of Nationals Park (section 236 to be exact) against right-handed reliever Hunter Strickland to put a Washington run on the scoreboard; Giants 3, Nats 1.
Second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera kept the momentum going and followed Harper’s lead by knocking a solo homerun with one out into the home bullpen in right field bringing Washington within one run of the Giants; Giants 3, Nats 2.
“We hadn’t done much offensively till that point and [Harper] gave us a spark,” Manager Matt Williams said after the game. “[Cabrera] followed, and we had opportunities.”
The Nats’ offensive efforts in the seventh inning weren’t enough to get over the one run lead San Francisco held onto. Washington only managed a couple more singles in the eighth inning before being shut down for the night.