WASHINGTON -- It is rare to see Stephen Strasburg get hit as hard as he did Friday against the Giants, usually a sign that something is off. The right-hander lasted just two innings in a 9-5 loss to the Giants at Nationals Park, where San Francisco collected five hits and scored three runs before Strasburg left the game with inflammation in his right shoulder.
Strasburg admitted he had been dealing with the issue for the past few starts, but that the shoulder tightened up on him during the game. He will receive an MRI on Saturday.
"I think it's just been something that's been a gradual process," Strasburg said. "It's been affecting me more and more over the last three, four starts. It's a tough one to gauge because you want to go out and do your part. But today it just acted up on me a little more than the other ones."
It became apparent quickly that Strasburg was not his usual self. He surrendered a solo home run to Andrew McCutchen in the first. The Giants began the second inning with four straight hits. When Strasburg returned to the dugout after the second inning, manager Dave Martinez noticed him with his head down in the dugout and instructed a team trainer to check on him.
Strasburg lobbied to remain in the game, but Martinez did not want to take a chance.
Washington is already missing one starting pitcher in its rotation, after right-hander Jeremy Hellickson landed on the disabled list this week, so losing Strasburg for an extended period would be difficult to withstand. Neither Strasburg nor Martinez sounded optimistic about the injury, which almost certainly will require a stint on the DL.
"I want to get the results of the MRI tomorrow before we make any conclusions," Martinez said. "Hopefully it's nothing at all, just a little tightness, little inflammation, and we can take care of it and we can go from there."
Strasburg's injury took the air out of a sold-out crowd of 41,591 fans, but despite being handed an early deficit, the Nationals battled back. Juan Soto hit a two-run home run and Bryce Harper collected a two-run single to drive Giants rookie left-hander Andrew Suarez from the game in the fifth inning.
The Nats eventually cut the deficit to one before San Francisco plated three runs against right-hander Brandon Kintzler in the seventh.
The Giants collected 15 hits on Friday night as the Nationals were not able to overcome Strasburg's abbreviated outing.
"I've asked [the bullpen] to do a lot of things, and they've performed well," Martinez said. "We've had Hellickson go down and needed them. Now Stras today. Hopefully [Giovany Gonzalez] can go out there [Saturday] and give us a good seven innings and we'll get straightened out."
Soto connected with his third home run of the season to drive in the Nationals' first two runs. All three of his homers have come against a left-hander.
"He's been really good," Martinez said. "I love his at-bats, his intensity. He's having fun out there, and I love watching him play."
All signs point to the Nationals activating outfielder Adam Eaton from the disabled list in time for Saturday's 12:05 p.m. ET start against the Giants. Eaton went through a full pregame routine Friday after returning from his Minor League rehab assignment and seems ready to play his first game since April 8. Gonzalez will take the mound against right-hander Dereck Rodriguez, the son of Hall of Famer and former Nats catcher Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez.