Padres right-hander Anthony Bass outdueled Stephen Strasburg on Tuesday at Nationals Park to continue his evolution as a starting pitcher.
Not only did the Padres defeat Strasburg with the bat, but Bass outpitched the former San Diego State All-American, allowing one run Bryce Harper's second major league homer in as many game on five hits in his second eight-inning effort over his last four starts.
"Anthony was outstanding," Padres manager Bud Black said. "He was in control of this game. It's a big step, going up against a guy like Strasburg and beating him."
Twice in his last four starts, Bass has completed eight innings while throwing between 90 and 93 pitches.
Over those two starts, Bass has averaged just under 11.5 pitches an inning while allowing three runs for a 1.69 ERA. In his other five starts this season, Bass hasn't pitched into the seventh while averaging 17.8 pitches an inning. His ERA in those games is 3.67.
The difference is what Black likes to call "pitch efficiency."
"We've talked about that with Anthony and other pitchers," Black said Tuesday after Bass allowed one walk while striking out seven. He didn't allow his first hit until Ian Desmond singled leading off the fourth.
"Throw strikes and attack hitters," Black continued. "Anthony is growing every start. He learns every time he is out there. We're seeing more of a pitcher. He's throwing his off-speed pitches for strikes when behind in the count. I feel good and the team feels good every time Anthony takes the mound."
For Bass, the secret is as simple as getting ahead in the count.
"The key is being able to throw all my pitches for strikes," Bass said.