Postgame analysis of the Nats' 3-1 win over the New York Mets on Friday night at Citi Field.
How it happened: Stephen Strasburg is generally a tough matchup for any opposing lineup on any given day, but catch him when he has recently returned from the disabled list and you're really in trouble.
The Nats' right-hander picked up right where he left off in his first start back with another dominant outing on Friday night, this one with seven innings of one-run ball. He didn't allow a hit until the fifth inning when Asdrubal Cabrera smacked a solo homer to lead off the frame. That ended a streak of 10 2/3 hitless innings since Strasburg returned from the DL.
That stretch was reminiscent of Strasburg's final 10 starts of 2015 after he was activated from the disabled list, when he went 6-2 and held a 1.90 ERA across 66 1/3 innings to close the year. Strasburg returned a revitalized pitcher then, and we may be seeing something similar right now.
Strasburg became the first NL starter since 1913 to begin a season 12-0 on Friday night. He is just the second pitcher in the last 30 years to begin a season at 12-0 or better. The other was teammate Max Scherzer, who began the 2013 seaston 13-0 with the Detroit Tigers (via ESPN).
Strasburg carved up a Mets lineup that had been thriving during their recent surge of seven wins in eight games. But New York's momentum was halted, at least for a night, as the Nationals came away with a 3-1 victory to tie up their current series.
Clint Robinson hit his fifth home run of the season - a two-run bomb - in the second inning and Daniel Murphy smoked an RBI double in the third. That was all the Nats' needed on this particular night with Strasburg on the mound. Strasburg finished with just one run allowed on two hits and three walks with nine strikeouts on 108 pitches through seven frames.
The Mets threatened in the bottom of the eighth with runners on the corners with one out. But Blake Treinen got Juan Lagares to ground into a double play to end the frame. Murphy started the play with a nice snag at second base and Treinen walked off the mound fired up because of it.
Jonathan Papelbon closed out the ninth with a perfect inning. He has yet to allow a hit or a walk in three outings since he came off the DL. And with his save on Friday, he's now tied with Jeff Reardon for ninth place all time with 367 in his career.
What it means: The Nationals moved to 52-36 on the season overall and 7-4 against the Mets. With the win, they pushed their lead in the NL East back to four games and ensured they will enter the All-Star break with sole possession of first place.
Robinson hits No. 5: Call it the Trea Turner Effect. Every time Turner looks like an imminent threat to somebody's job, that person seems to immediately start playing better. It happened with Danny Espinosa in late May as Turner's callup was nearing. It happened with Ben Revere once Turner started learning center field in the minors. And now with Robinson playing for Ryan Zimmerman and Turner waiting in the wings, Robinson has taken off. He now has a homer and a walk in each of his last two games since Zimmerman went down. Manager Dusty Baker sounds intent on giving Robinson some real playing time while Zimmerman is out and so far he's making the most of it. That may pay off for the Nats, as in 18 games as a starter this season Robinson has four homers and 15 RBI.
Murphy knocks in another: Daniel Murphy may not admit he takes pleasure in beating up on his former team, but he's getting some serious results against the Mets regardless of the motivation. He landed an RBI double on Friday and is now 18-for-44 (.409) with five homers and 15 RBI vs. the Mets since he signed with the Nationals. Murphy has 60 RBI on the season. He's already passed his career-high in homers and is now just 18 away from his best ever RBI total and he's only played 85 games.
Speaking of players killing their former teams, Cabrera has proven to be quite the pain this season for the Nationals. It's not quite to Murphy's extent, but the one they used to call Droobs is now 12-for-39 (.308) with three homers in 11 games against the Nats in 2016.
Mets' injury woes continue: The Mets saw both Syndergaard and Yoenis Cespedes leave with injuries on Friday night, the same day it was announced Matt Harvey is done for the year after having surgery for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. Cespedes has a right quad strain and Syndergaard was diagnosed with arm fatigue. Both may be minor, but either way it was a tough day for the Metropolitans.
Up next: The Nats and Mets keep going with a 7:15 p.m. start on Saturday night. All-Star Max Scherzer (9-6, 3.21) will go up against spot-starter Logan Verrett (3-5, 4.01), who has taken Harvey's place in the Mets rotation for now.