After getting out to a 9-0 lead on Friday, the Nationals found themselves on the losing end of an 11-10 loss after a stunning comeback by the Braves. It was a game Nats manager Davey Johnson called “probably the worst I’ve ever managed in my career.” Johnson was just as unforgiving with Stephen Strasburg, who went five scoreless innings before allowing four runs in the sixth, when Johnson gave him the hook.
“He felt like he was missing, but I felt like he just wasn’t going after them,” Johnson told the Washington Post. “He wasted a lot of pitches. He really doesn’t know who he is at times. He doesn’t trust his stuff. It was a little avoiding contact, trying to make too good of pitches. I know they’re a pretty good-hitting ballclub, but he’s got pretty good stuff.
“Another thing, too, when you throw a lot of pitches to hitters they get a better gauge on you. It’s easier to hit. You see 2-3 fastballs missed, it’s easier to start gauging somebody. It’s a lot tougher when you go right after them and they’ve got to put it in play.”
Jeez. It’s as if Johnson forgot Strasburg was actually still in line to win the game when he was pulled, and that it was shoddy bullpen work that ultimately let that win slip away. Kind of unfair for Johnson to get all grouchy about Strasburg when we know the Nats ace wasn’t going to get a chance to right the ship anyway.
On the other hand, Strasburg has struggled of late, earning losses in three of his last five starts. So, this could have been an instance of underlying frustrations finally rising to the surface. Natitude!
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