Found June 03, 2012 on The Nats Blog:
Top_first_year_e2d6

strasburg06022012The Washington Nationals looked to continue their success against the Atlanta Braves on Saturday, and the headline matchup between Stephen Strasburg and Brandon Beachy certainly didn't disappoint. The secondary headline to make Nats fans happy was looking in right field and seeing Michael Morse make his 2012 MLB debut.

Strasburg had one of the best starts of his entire career on Saturday afternoon; his fastball was flying free and easy with all of his other pitches setting up hitters throughout the game. He threw just 90 pitches in seven strong innings, and he only gave up four hits. He struck out nine and didn't walk a batter or give up a run. It's entirely possible that Strasburg could have gone the distance, but Davey Johnson decided to go with Sean Burnett and Tyler Clippard to close out the game for the Nats 30th win on the season.

Beachy was just as impressive through most of his start. He gave up just three hits in 6.1 innings. It was a home run to Jesus Flores to lead off the fifth inning and an extremely high pitch count due to walks that proved to be Beachy's only weaknesses in an otherwise stellar start. Beachy pitched well enough to win this game, but Strasburg was just that much better.

The Nationals now are 30-23 on the season and are still sitting in first place ahead of the Miami Marlins and the surprisingly impressive New York Mets. Still, just 3.5 games separate first and last place in the NL East. It's going to be a long, exciting summer watching this division play baseball.

Some Thoughts:

- Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post pointed out after Strasburg's outing that he matched the best Bill James game score of his career on Saturday. The other game? Strasburg's 10 strikeout one-hitter against the Marlins to close the 2011 season. 

- Michael Morse's presence in the lineup is a sight for sore eyes after what the Nationals have dealt with offensively for most of the season. Though he went 0-for-4 on Saturday, once he gets back into a rhythm, the Nats will be in great shape.

- With Morse back in the lineup, the Nats put out what I think is their best one through eight of the season so far. Sure, you'd like to see Jayson Werth in there, but you can probably expect to see a lot of repeats of Saturday's lineup over the coming weeks.

- Bryce Harper continues to be absolutely nasty this season. He walked twice with a hit on Saturday, and with that performance, he's reached base in 17 of his last 18 games. It's hard to remind yourself that he's still just 19 years old.

- Xavier Nady picked up where Chad Tracy left the Goon Squad, with a pinch-hit double. Nady will likely be the first righty pinch-hitter off the bench for Johnson, so it's nice to see he got it off to a good start. It's going to take a lot for him to make fans forget about his lackluster start to the season, though.

THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Strasburg strikes out nine in 7 innings

Even though Stephen Strasburg is on a three-game winning streak, his most recent starts hadn't been especially smooth. On Saturday, he threw freely and easily, pitching four-hit ball for seven sharp innings to help lead the Washington Nationals over the Atlanta Braves 2-0. Strasburg (6-1) completed seven shutout innings for the first time in his major league career. He opened...

Stephen Strasburg is pretty good

Yes, that heading is a bit of Twitter humor. Stephen Strasburg is pretty good like Lennon-McCartney were pretty good at writing songs. His latest Top Forty hit was a nine-strikeout, zero-walk dominance of the Atlanta Braves in a game where thirteen of his ninety pitches topped 98 MPH including two over 99 in his seventh inning of work. His change-up averaged 91 MPH. His change-up...

Braves held scoreless by Strasburg, Nationals

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Stephen Strasburg pitched four-hit ball for seven sharp innings and Jesus Flores homered, leading the Washington Nationals over the Atlanta Braves 2-0 on Saturday. Strasburg (6-1) completed seven shutout innings for the first time in his major league career. He opened the game with a flourish, striking out the first four Braves batters. Strasburg struck out nine...

Nationals adjust to drafting in middle of pack

Because the Washington Nationals have drafted so well in recent years, they're stuck picking in the middle of the pack. Washington has the 16th overall selection in Monday night's major league draft, their worst position since 2003, when they had the 20th choice. The Nationals went 80-81 last year, an 11-game improvement from 2010. And Washington entered play Sunday in...

Nationals 2, Braves 0

Stephen Strasburg pitched four-hit ball for seven sharp innings and Jesus Flores homered, leading the Washington Nationals over the Atlanta Braves 2-0 on Saturday. Strasburg (6-1) completed seven shutout innings for the first time in his major league career. He opened the game with a flourish, striking out the first four Braves batters. Strasburg struck out nine, walked none and...

A New Draft Day Comes With Big Changes and Challenges

The 2012 MLB Amateur Draft begins today, and it’s a day that many baseball fans look forward to more than the actual season. It’s a chance to see your team’s future in a snapshot, and it gives even the worst teams hope for the future. This year, though, the draft is going to look very different. The Washington Nationals spent the last five years picking in the top ten in...

What a difference a year makes...

  This time last year? Davey Johnson was manning the phone for the Nationals (with Pat Corrales) at the MLB First-Year Player Draft. In the screencap above (via MLB Network), Corrales was either ordering pizza or prank calling the Phillies. This year? Nats picking at #16. Davey's sitting in a slightly different seat. "Uncharted waters" pretty much sums it up.....

Nationals Lose to Braves For First Time This Season

Gio Gonzalez came into Sunday’s Washington Nationals game against the Atlanta Braves looking to replicate his last start where he gave up just one hit in seven innings. Unfortunately, he wasn’t even able to come close to that. He lasted just 4.2 innings with 91 pitches on the way to a 3-2 loss for the Nats. The game certainly got started the right way for the Nats offense, though...

Hanson helps Braves to win over Nationals

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Tommy Hanson shook off an agonizing start to outpitch Gio Gonzalez, and the Atlanta Braves beat the Washington Nationals 3-2 Sunday to end a six-game skid against their NL East rivals. Hanson (6-4) gave up homers to the first two batters he faced, with rookies Steve Lombardozzi and Bryce Harper connecting on consecutive pitches. Hanson then blanked the Nationals...

Rule changes, talent concerns mark baseball draft

There's no Stephen Strasburg or Bryce Harper in this year's baseball draft. There's not even a Gerrit Cole or Danny Hultzen, last year's top two players. Without a clear-cut No. 1 prospect and several significant rule changes in place, teams face some intriguing decisions and an unpredictable first round in this year's draft that starts Monday night. Allotted...

Rain postpones Braves-Nationals game

Friday night's game between the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves has been postponed by rain. No immediate makeup date was announced. That means the Nationals will have to wait at least one more day to get Michael Morse back in the lineup. Activated from the 15-day disabled list earlier Friday, Morse was scheduled to make his season debut. The hard-hitting outfielder...

Nats Choose Lucas Giolito In Gutsy First Round Selection

Entering the 2012 Amateur Draft, it was unclear who the Nationals would take with the 16th overall pick. Just before 9 pm on Monday, the Nats picked Lucas Giolito and surprised the baseball world once again. With the Giolito pick, you can argue that the Nats got the top prospect five times in the last four seasons. Starting with Stephen Strasburg in 2009, the Nats followed with...
MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.