MIAMI — Late Tuesday night, inside the bowels of Marlins Park, long after the rest of their team had gone home, Stephen Strasburg and Kurt Suzuki sat with bench coach Randy Knorr and pitching coach Steve McCatty hashing out just what had happened in Tuesday’s 9-0 loss.
It was a game in which Strasburg was hit more than he ever had been before and allowed seven runs (though only five earned). He was searching for answers. He acknowledged that the Miami Marlins were ready for his inside fastballs but he didn’t adjust. He didn’t adapt. And he didn’t beat them.
“Stras just was a little off,” said Nationals manager Davey Johnson. “When he came in (with his fastball) they were waiting on him.
“I think he, Suzuki, (McCatty) and Randy Knorr closed down this place last night. Had an old fashioned sit down. That was interesting to hear.”
The crux of their message was simple: everyone struggles sometimes.
Knorr, who often takes players aside when he feels they’re in need of a chat, said he and McCatty sensed there was a little frustration in both players with the way the game went and the coaches just wanted to remind them both to look at the body of work, not one outing.
“We just kind of explained that,” Knorr said. “Even though (Strasburg) is kind of a perfectionist, ‘Hey, you’re 15-6. Big picture. You’ve done everything possible to put us in the position we’re in.’”
They stressed that it was a learning experience. He and Suzuki are also still learning one another and Suzuki is working to gain Strasburg’s trust, which partly comes from throwing what the pitcher feels is his strength. Knorr did say, though, that “at a certain point you have to know, this ain’t working anymore.”
Before they left, though, they reminded Strasburg that for all his talent has brought him — and quickly — he’s still relatively young and inexperienced in the major leagues. Even Justin Verlander struggles, they told him. Verlander gave up eight earned runs Tuesday night off 12 hits in a 9-8 Tigers loss.
“(They) just wanted to hash it out and be done with it,” Johnson said. “And then I think McCatty texted Stras and said ‘Did you see what happened to Verlander?’ He gave up (eight). It can happen to anybody.”