By HOWIE RUMBERG AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) _ Stephen Strasburg wants to be treated like one
of the guys: with no limits on his pitching.
The 23-year-old phenom got his wish Wednesday.
The Washington Nationals let their young ace go past 100 pitches
for the first time in the major leagues and he worked his way out
of a two-on, one out jam in the sixth inning of a one-run ballgame
“I was going to hold him to 100 pitches but I didn’t know who
to go to to get out of the jam,” Nationals manager Davey Johnson
said after a 4-0 victory over the New York Mets. “I probably
would’ve had to strangle him to get the ball to get him out of the
Strasburg threw 108 pitches in outlasting Johan Santana for six
innings in a marquee matchup of aces on the mend, and the
Nationals’ bullpen made the lead stand up on the 50th anniversary
of the Mets’ first game.
Meeting in a blustery, chilly matinee, Strasburg (1-0) and
Santana got off to an erratic start but settled into a duel between
pitchers coming back from major arm operations.
Strasburg allowed two hits and struck out nine in helping the
Nationals take the final two games of the three-game series against
their division rival with stellar pitching _ Ross Detwiler shut
down the Mets on Tuesday night.
Strasburg threw 99 pitches in his eighth big league start in
July 2010, when his callup to the big leagues captivated baseball,
but he had elbow ligament-replacement surgery two months later and
missed almost all of 2011. He is being kept on an innings limit of
about 160 this season.
“By no means in the back of my head was I thinking, `How many
pitches was I at?”’ he said. I wanted to go out there and keep the
team in the ballgame as long as I could.”
Santana (0-1) allowed five hits in five-plus innings but his
wild pitch gave Washington a 1-0 lead in the second inning of a
game that lasted 3 hours, 36 minutes. New York had only three hits
and Mets pitchers combined to walk 10 and hit one batter.
Ryan Mattheus, Sean Burnett and Henry Rodriguez each pitched a
scoreless inning for a Nationals’ bullpen that is without closer
Drew Storen (elbow).
New York’s bullpen gave up two bases-loaded walks and an RBI
grounder to Chad Tracy in the eighth. By that time, much of the
announced crowd of 34,614 had left.
The 33-year-old Santana, a two-time Cy Young Award winner, was
making just his second start in 19 months after left shoulder
surgery. His operation was about two weeks after Strasburg’s in
Santana’s fastball was clocked at about the same speed (a high
of 90 mph, reached once) as the 23-year-old phenom’s changeup (89
mph). Strasburg’s fastball peaked at 98 mph.
Strasburg gave up a single to his first batter, Ruben Tejada,
and walked Daniel Murphy in a frustrating 26-pitch first inning.
After starting the second with a walk, he found better command of
his curveball and went on a run of retiring 10 in a row until
hitting Ronny Cedeno with a pitch with one out in the fifth.
“I was really concerned early because he was pitching backward.
He was using a lot of changeups, back-to-back changeups,
curveballs, even cutting his fastball,” Johnson said. “He got
straightened out in the third inning and started pitching like he
Said Strasburg: “I have four out pitches. It’s just a matter of
Ike Davis singled in the sixth to end an 0-for-18 start. That
was just the second hit for the Mets, who wore their white uniforms
instead of their traditional pinstripes for the anniversary game.
Santana needed 27 pitches to get through the first. In the
second, he bounced a slider in front of the plate that went to the
backstop, allowing Mark DeRosa to score. DeRosa singled leading off
the inning and had gone to third on Xavier Nady’s single to right.
Santana retired 10 in a row, striking out four straight at one
point, before allowing back-to-back hits in the fifth.
“I’m very happy at this stage,” Mets manager Terry Collins
said, “and five days from now you’ll see him again.”
Despite having thrown 93 pitches through five innings, Santana
was allowed to bat with a runner on first and one out. He struck
Santana then walked Jayson Werth with his 99th pitch _ 56 were
strikes _ leading off the sixth. He was lifted for Manny Acosta.
“I was able to compete and I feel good,” Santana said. “I
told (Collins) I felt good and he let me go back out there. I
didn’t come through, but at least I was able to warm up and come
back out again. So that’s a good sign.”
NOTES: Roger Craig threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Craig
started the Mets’ opener in 1962 at St. Louis, an 11-4 loss. …
Collins was ejected for arguing with plate umpire Larry Vanover in
the seventh inning. … The Mets drew 197,672 for their first
homestand this year, up from 184,429 for their first six home games
last year. … Johnson had no new information on Storen (elbow) and
slugger Michael Morse (back). He said tests on Morse, who had a
setback in a minor league rehab game, were sent to Dr. James
Andrews. Johnson wasn’t certain if Storen went to see Andrews or
whether his tests were sent to the esteemed orthopedist. …
Collins said he wouldn’t be surprised to see 3B David Wright
(broken pinkie finger) in the lineup Friday.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)