Strasburg K's 11, including 6 straight, for 9th win
Righty ties season high in strikeouts; Harper walks 5 times in win
MIAMI -- Stephen Strasburg continued his mastery over the Marlins on Tuesday, tying a season high with 11 strikeouts over six innings in a 4-2 win over Miami and a split of the two-game set at Marlins Park.
Prior to sustaining a pinched nerve in his neck that landed him on the 10-day DL on July 25, Strasburg ranked fourth in the National League with 93 strikeouts. Since his return on Aug. 22, he's been building up his strikeout numbers. In his previous outing Strasburg fanned nine Phillies in a 5-1 win on the road.
He continued to pile up the K's on Tuesday. After giving up a leadoff home run to Peter O'Brien in the second inning, Strasburg hit the next batter before settling down, embarking on a strikeout streak that retired six consecutive Marlins batters.
Strasburg (9-7) struck out the side in both the second and third innings, five of those recorded with nasty changeups, before Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto ended the run with a single to lead off the fourth inning.
The Nationals' club record is nine consecutive strikeouts, set by Max Scherzer against the Mets on Oct. 3, 2015.
"I'm just trying to execute pitches," Strasburg said. "You get two strikes, you want to try and put them away. I thought the two-seamer was working pretty well tonight. The changeup was working well. Four-seam command was a little off, but I was able to make a pitch or two when I needed to."
Bryce Harper walked in each of his five plate appearances Tuesday, falling one short of the Major League record he tied against the Cubs in 2016. It is still a season-high for Harper, who leads the Majors in walks (123) with a league-leading 27 in the month of September.
"I think I've stuck to my plan pretty well," Harper said. "I think if I would have swung the bat yesterday like I did today, I'd probably have nine walks in the series. I just have to wait for a pitch over the dish that I can drive. I wasn't able to get that today and was still able to get on base five times."
Strasburg is now 3-0 in six starts since returning from the DL and has allowed three earned runs or fewer in each of his last five starts. Strasburg is 5-0 over his last five starts against the Marlins and has beaten the Fish more times (17) than any other team. But he said there isn't anything magical about facing Miami.
"I think any team can beat any other team on any given day," Strasburg said. "You have to respect your opponent and come out on top of your game. I don't think I won't ever take any team lightly."
The Nats grabbed a 2-0 lead in the second on consecutive RBI singles from Adam Eaton and Trea Turner, whose bunt down the first-base line caught the Marlins by surprise. It was a lead the Nats never relinquished thanks to a pair of RBIs from Anthony Rendon in the fourth (sac fly) and sixth (single) innings.
Rendon extended his career-high and MLB-best on-base streak to 27 games.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
After blowing a 4-2 lead on Monday, the Nationals' bullpen preserved it on Tuesday. Matt Grace, Justin Miller, Greg Holland, and Sean Doolittle combined for three scoreless relief innings of one-hit ball.
"Those guys haven't been bad; yesterday was just a [fluke]," manager Dave Martinez said. "Tonight, Miller comes in does his thing; Grace gets the lefty out; Holland has been really, really good, and Doolittle is back. We get to the seventh, eighth inning we'll be in good shape."
Since being reinstated from the DL, Strasburg is 3-0 with a 3.63 ERA in six starts. In addition, he has earned the win in each of his last three road games with a 2.37 ERA.
HE SAID IT
"We're a team with a lot of length. We're pretty dangerous all the way through. Pick your poison with anyone in the lineup. Everybody's got an opportunity to go out there and get a couple of knocks a night and get some runs scored." -- Harper, on the Nats' capable lineup top to bottom
The Nationals open a four-game series with the Mets at home beginning on Thursday when right-hander Scherzer (17-7, 2.53 ERA) takes the mound, needing just seven strikeouts to equal his career single-season high (284) set in 2016. His 17 wins are the most since he was a 20-game winner (2016). He will be opposed by Mets left-hander Jason Vargas (6-9, 6.47), who is 1-3 lifetime against the Nats in six previous appearances, including three starts.