Stephen Strasburg lost Friday night’s pitching duel to Matt Harvey in the Washington Nationals’ 7-1 loss to the New York Mets. The Nats still have yet to find their rhythm, as the game was punctuated by the inconsistencies that have plagued them of late.
Laboring early in the game, Strasburg threw 28 of his total 111 pitches in the first inning and allowed two unearned runs to score, after an Ian Desmond error and a wild pitch. He struggled with command throughout, and though he kept the game close – the score was 4-0 when he exited after six innings – he was not pitching up to the ace standard Nats fans have come to expect from him.
Strasburg gave up two home runs in the bottom of the sixth to Ike Davis and Lucas Duda, his second and third of the season. Drew Storen gave up two more in the eighth, again to Davis and Duda. Nats pitchers have now given up the fourth-most home runs in the National League, though last year only one NL team, the Los Angeles Dodgers, surrendered fewer. It isn’t any fun watching the opposing team go yard against the Nationals, but once their pitching settles into a rhythm, those numbers should start to slow down.
Though his performance on the mound was less than spectacular, Strasburg made sure that Harvey – who posted a stellar line of seven innings pitched with one earned run and seven strikeouts – wouldn’t completely outshine him by breaking up his no-hitter himself with a double in the top of the third.
That was about the sum of the Nats offense for the night though. Their bats were asleep against Harvey, and they only managed four hits and three walks the whole night, leaving men on base without scoring in four innings.
The offense was most disappointing in the seventh inning, when the bases were loaded against a tiring Harvey, and the Nats totally let him off the hook. They scored their sole run in that inning, when Chad Tracy drove home Adam LaRoche who had walked to lead off the inning. They then loaded the bases on a throwing error, but a Kurt Suzuki strikeout, a Roger Bernadina foul out, and a Denard Span ground out ended the inning on a flat note.
Zach Duke took possession of the one shining moment of the night, as he used just ten pitches, seven of which were strikes, in a 1-2-3 seventh to keep the Nationals in a position to make a comeback.
Unfortunately, the Nats were not able to execute that comeback, but as always, the great thing about baseball is that there is another game today, with another opportunity to put a curly W in the books.