Surely this isn’t how Stephen Strasburg envisioned his first start against his hometown team.
The Nationals’ ace departed after only four innings Tuesday afternoon against the Padres, handing reliever Tom Gorzelanny a 4-0 deficit to manage.
Strasburg looked off from the very beginning, struggling through a 39-pitch first inning that included an eight-minute rain delay and saw eight Padres batters come to the plate. It began with a missed opportunity, as Roger Bernadina allowed an easy pop from leadoff man Will Venable to drop in left-center for a double, and unraveled from there.
Strasburg never looked comfortable as he walked a pair of batters in the first while frequently attempting to keep his pitching hand dry as a sudden downpour hit Nats Park. He was granted a brief reprieve when home plate umpire Brian Gorman halted play with the bases loaded, two out and a 3-2 count on Padres catcher John Baker, but Baker grounded Strasburg’s first pitch after the delay back up the middle for a two-run single.
Strasburg settled down a bit after that, but couldn’t get through a clean inning. Venable touched him up for a triple in the second and James Darnell homered in the third to make it 4-0 Padres. San Diego then added a pair of singles with two out in the fourth, from Venable and Cameron Maybin, before Chase Headley struck out looking on what turned out to be Strasburg’s final pitch.
It was the first time this season Strasburg failed to complete at least six innings and the first time in eight outings he hasn’t recorded a quality start. The four earned runs he allowed represented the second-highest total in his 25-start career (6 vs. the Marlins Aug. 10, 2010 in his return from his first disabled list stint).
All in all, a rough afternoon for Strasburg coming off a 13-strikeout performance against the Pirates.