Braves 6, Nationals 5
Stephen Strasburg has that feeling again, the one that made him
a phenom in 2010 before injuring his elbow.
Healthy again, he just needs to get his command back to where it
was when he got the call up to the major leagues.
Strasburg gave up two homers and allowed four runs in four
innings Wednesday night as the Braves defeated the Nationals 6-5,
his ERA for three spring starts rising to 7.45.
”My arm feels so good, I’m overthrowing,” said Strasburg.
”Once it clicks, I’ll be fine.”
Dan Uggla hit a two-run homer in the first inning and Jason
Heyward connected with no one on in the fourth. Strasburg, gave up
five hits and four runs, walking two and striking out one.
Nationals manager Davey Johnson said that Strasburg’s only
problem is a lack of control – and a little stubbornness.
Strasburg didn’t disagree with either assessment, especially
about trying to throw his fastball by everyone when his command
isn’t quite there yet.
On Uggla’s homer to right field, Strasburg said: ”I wanted to
blow it by him.”
Strasburg threw 73 pitches and he lost the strike zone in his
last two innings, when 21 of his 44 pitches were balls.
”It’s going to get better,” Strasburg said. ”I have to remind
myself that it is spring training.”
After hitting just four homers while starting the spring 1-10-1,
the Braves connected for three against the Nationals. Jordan Parraz
tied the game with a homer in the eighth inning and Luis Durango
soon followed with the winning hit.
Chipper Jones got his first hit of the spring. The
switch-hitting third baseman, hitless in his first 10 at-bats,
bounced a single through the infield off left-handed reliever Tom
Gorzelanny leading off the fifth inning. Jones, who turns 40 next
month, has been bothered by a sore right knee all spring.
Uggla also had a sacrifice fly and Heyward, who came in batting
.143, added a double.
Chad Tracy and Jesus Flores homered for Washington in the fourth
inning off Braves rookie starter Julio Teheran, who allowed six
homers against Detroit in his spring debut two starts ago. Teheran
gave up five hits and three runs in his four innings, walking two
and striking out two.
Fellow Braves pitching prospect Randall Delgado followed and
allowed four hits and two runs over four innings, walking three and
striking out five. Teheran has an 11.00 ERA and Delgado is only a
little better at 9.00.
Top Nationals prospect Bryce Harper returned to the lineup after
missing a week with a strained left calf and played center field
for the first time this spring. He was 0 for 2 with a walk after
having five hits in 11 at-bats before being sidelined.
Rick Ankiel is out with a tight hamstring and Johnson has been
anxious to see how the 19-year-old Harper, normally a right
fielder, looks in the middle of the outfield.
”As far as I’m concerned, anybody that can throw and run like
he can should have experience at all the outfield positions,”
Roger Bernadina or Ankiel is expected to open the season as
Washington’s center fielder, with Michael Morse in left field and
Jayson Werth in right field. But Harper, the No. 1 overall draft
pick in 2010, hopes to push himself into the mix.
NOTES: Former Braves outfielder and two-time National League MVP
Dale Murphy shared a memorable moment with son Jake before the
game. After throwing out the ceremonial pitch to his father, Jake
got down on one knee and proposed to his girlfriend. . Bernadina
was a late scratch from the Nationals’ lineup. He had a tooth
removed Tuesday and was reportedly feeling light-headed. . Braves
rookie shortstop Andrelton Simmons had two hits and also turned in
a pair of defensive gems. . Eric O’Flaherty pitched a perfect ninth
inning for the save. . The Braves reduced their spring roster to 50
by optioning pitcher Eric Cordier to Triple-A Gwinnett and sending
outfielders Stefan Gartrell and Todd Cunningham, pitcher Jason Rice
and catcher Matt Kennelly to minor league camp.