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Strasburg posted another quality start against Colorado with just two earned runs, but threw 107 pitches and allowed eight hits along the way. Rockies first baseman Tyler Colvin was the main beneficiary of a few mistakes magnified by two home runs. Colvin took Strasburg deep in the second inning for a solo homer and knocked a two-run shot in the fourth.
Colvin hit the first one off a 97 mile per hour fastball into the upper deck in right field.
“It was just a dumb pitch,” Strasburg said. “When you got a guy with some power up there that is the last thing you want to do is try and throw and elevated fastball and miss down in the zone a little bit, right in the swing point. You just got to learn from it.”
The homer actually counted as an unearned run as Colvin should have already been out. Earlier in the count he hit a fly ball behind home plate that Jesus Flores was able to get under. Flores tried to catch it under hand and the ball just popped out of his glove.
In the fourth inning Carlos Gonzalez led off with a five-pitch walk and then made it to second on a Michael Cuddyer groundout to Ryan Zimmerman. Next up was Colvin who fouled off four pitches before getting a piece of the ninth, a two-run line drive that landed just inches over the right field scoreboard.
“The second one was a changeup. With a free base open I didn’t want to walk him and I just caught too much of the plate. With the way the ball has been flying out here he got it just well enough to get it over the wall,” Strasburg said.
Overall, Strasburg’s outing was enough to keep the Nationals in the game, especially with how they had been hitting of late. But on the mound for Colorado was former 5th overall pick Drew Pomeranz and seeing him for the first time was a tough challenge for the Nationals’ lineup.
Pomeranz left the game after 6 1/3 innings despite allowing just one hit and keeping the Nats scoreless. He could have been riding a no-hitter if it weren’t for a Bryce Harper bloop single in the fourth inning that shortstop Jonathan Herrera misplayed.
Pomeranz threw just 81 pitches on the night with 74 of those fastballs. It was something the Nationals knew was coming, but just couldn’t figure out.
“He is lefty, good velocity, and was getting it in there on the righties. The pitches we did get we popped them up or fouled the off,” Adam LaRoche said. “We got to take advantage of the fastball and we couldn’t get on it. He had something on us for sure.”
“He pounded the zone, he was going after us and just beat us,” Ian Desmond said. “We just have to go and move on. I think we will all be dreaming about fastballs tonight.”
The Rockies' Dexter Fowler hit a solo home run off Strasburg's replacement Tom Gorzelanny in the seventh inning for their fourth run of the game and Michael Cuddyer hit a sacrifice fly in the eighth for their fifth. The Nationals had just one hit through seven innings and two entering the ninth, but they did mount a late rally that for a moment seemed a carryover of their recent sweep of San Francisco.
Ryan Zimmerman led off against reliever Rex Brothers and took a 1-1 fastball for a home run that nearly hit the Red Porch in left field. Michael Morse continued the rally with a line drive double into right and Adam LaRoche then shanked a single to right field to move Morse to third. But even with first and third and no outs, the Nationals fell short with three straight outs capped by a Jesus Flores’ flyout to end the game.
The Nationals’ loss ended a four-game winning streak and brought them to a record of 48-33 at the season’s true halfway point. They have two more games against the Rockies before taking rest for the MLB All-Star Break.
Strasburg’s first half is now over, but after a string of rough starts he will have a lot to think about during the break.
“It’s going to be a fun experience but in no means am I satisfied. I just have to talk to [Steve McCatty] tomorrow and try and learn as much as I can from this,” he said.
“All I can really think of is two pitches and I don’t think they were the right pitches to throw in that situation and I didn’t have the right mindset. It should be an easy fix.”