Strasburg Sharp in Final 2014 Start

Stephen Strasburg threw six innings of shutout ball in his final start of the 2014 season, showing he is ready to take on the ace role for the Nationals in their playoff run with a 5-1 tune-up win over the Miami Marlins. Strasburg gave up two catchable hits and struck out seven to take the National League lead in whiffs with 242. He has not given up a run in his last three starts covering 20 innings.

The first hit he gave up was in the third inning, a double by Jeff Mathis in which Bryce Harper appeared to take a bad route to the ball. Mathis hit the ball into the left centerfield gap and Harper took a straight line route for the ball that flew over his head. It is possible if he angled backwards he could have caught the ball. The second hit was a line drive Jayson Werth appeared to have lost in the sun. It was originally ruled an error after hitting the webbing of his glove but was changed to a hit an inning later. Other than a walk in the sixth inning those were the only Marlins to reach base off Strasburg.

In the second inning Wilson Ramos legged out a single for the second hit of the inning. With runners on first and third and one out Stephen Strasburg laid down a bunt. Nate Eovaldi looked Harper halfway to third and threw to first. Harper broke for home after the throw and slid just ahead of the throw from the first baseman. Marlins manager Mike Redmond did the ballet with the umps to wait for a dugout review of the replay and chose not to challenge the call. Denard Span followed by legging out a hit, Asdrubal Cabrera tried to score from second, or had just rounded the bag too far and the throw home caught him between home and third where he was tagged out in a rundown.

In the fifth the Nationals loaded the bases on two singles and a walk, Denard Span and Jayson Werth collecting the base hits. Adam LaRoche hit a slow ground ball to Adeiny Hechavarria, who chose to go to first for the second out to allow the second run to score.

In the eighth inning the Nationals put the game away with a three spot. Carter Capps came in with his 100 mile per hour fastball but Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond were able to hit back to back singles off the heat. A walk to Bryce Harper loaded the bases. With one out Asdrubal Cabrera lined one into right center over the head of Jordany Valdespin to drive in all three runs.

The Marlins were able to score their lone run in the ninth, courtesy of two boots, one by Ryan Zimmerman at first and the second by Anthony Rendon at third. The ground ball to Rendon should have been the third out to preserve the shutout. Instead, it scored the Marlins first run, kept the bases loaded for pinch hitter Jarrod Saltalamacchia who lined out to short to end the game.

Game Notes: Both Nathan Eovaldi and Stephen Strasburg were dealing their fastballs at 95-97 miles per hour. The difference between the two is Strasburg has better secondary stuff in his arsenal with his change and curveball…It was Tyler Clippard bobblehead day where “Fear the Goggles” was the mantra. Clippard made an appearance and retired the side in order…In the fifth with the bases loaded and two outs Bryce Harper took two strong swings at slow curveballs and missed. If he ever learns to hit the slow stuff his average will rise…The second hit by Denard Span in the fifth put his average at .301. He was replaced by Michael Taylor in the seventh and will probably not play on Sunday to keep his .300 season intact…With his seven strikeouts Strasburg took over the National League in whiffs with 242, taking the lead from Clayton Kershaw.

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