After the Washington Nationals’ perfect start under rookie manager Matt Williams was spoiled by the Atlanta Braves, ace Stephen Strasburg will try to help them bounce back Saturday night by giving a better performance than in his season debut.
While he’s pitched well in most of the recent matchups, Strasburg hasn’t defeated Atlanta since 2012, and there’s a chance there might be some bad blood left over from his last meeting with the Braves.
Atlanta (3-1) benefited from an overturned call en route to a 2-1 victory in Friday’s home opener for Washington (3-1). Ian Desmond appeared to have a tying inside-the-park home run in the fifth inning, but it was changed to a ground-rule double after a replay review.
Desmond was caught in a rundown later in the inning, and that prevented the Nationals from tying the game until Ryan Zimmerman’s sacrifice fly in the sixth. Chris Johnson gave the Braves the lead for good with an eighth-inning sac fly.
"These umpires, they’re good enough," Atlanta outfielder Justin Upton said. "But sometimes they need a little bit of help."
With a 2.57 ERA over his last six meetings with the Braves, Strasburg would appear to have an opportunity to help the Nationals rebound. The right-hander, though, has one win over that span while receiving just 15 runs of support.
He looked ready to claim a win in Atlanta on Aug. 17 after getting four runs of support in the first two innings. Instead, he was ejected in the second after throwing back-to-back pitches behind Andrelton Simmons’ back.
Strasburg also hit Upton with a pitch in the first inning.
Strasburg (0-0, 6.00 ERA) enters this matchup after giving up four runs over six innings in Monday’s season opener, a 9-7 win in 10 innings over the New York Mets. He stuck out 10 while yielding five hits, including Andrew Brown’s three-run homer in the first.
"Early on Strasburg was up in the zone, and then he found his stride in the third and shut them down the rest of the way," Williams told the team’s official website. "His pitch count got up there (102) and we couldn’t run him out there for another inning. He gave us a chance to get back in it."
The Braves will counter with Julio Teheran, who was a hard-luck loser in the season opener Monday at Milwaukee. The right-hander, who won 14 games and finished fifth in NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2013, allowed two runs over six innings in a 2-0 defeat.
"For his first start, for his first opening day, I thought he did a terrific job," manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
Teheran (0-1, 3.00) will try to send the Braves to a fourth straight win on their six-game trip while earning his third in as many starts against Washington. He gave up one run over 12 innings in his previous two matchups after going 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA in his first three, all in 2013.
Atlanta has won 18 of the last 24 matchups between the past two NL East champions and nine of the last 11 in Washington.