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Strasburg's one-hitter was weeks in the making


Strasburg's one-hitter was weeks in the making

PHILADELPHIA — To the observer watching from afar, Stephen Strasburg's absolute gem of a pitching performance Tuesday night might have seemed to emerge from nowhere. Strasburg throwing a 1-hitter? On 14 strikeouts? The same guy whose career appeared to be teetering on the brink earlier this summer?

Anyone who has been watching Strasburg over the last couple of months, though, probably wasn't shocked by Tuesday's dominant start in a 4-0 win over the Phillies. Truth be told, it felt like a natural progression for the right-hander, who had been building toward something just like this.

It's been lost among the nagging injuries and the Nationals' overall frustrations, but Strasburg has been pitching as well as at any previous point in his career. His totals over his last 10 starts, dating all the way back to June 23: 6-2 with a 2.07 ERA, an 0.74 WHIP, 79 strikeouts and only nine walks in 61 innings.

The reason for all that? It's simple, in Strasburg's mind: He's finally healthy.

"I think health is huge for anybody," he said. "We've had a lot of guys battle through injuries and stuff. It's been a good learning process for me. Even going back to spring training, it helped me kind of get a better understanding of where I need to have my body to go out there and execute pitches that I need to."

Strasburg dealt with all sorts of nagging ailments through the season's first half. A minor ankle sprain suffered in spring training led to poor mechanics, which led to his recurring neck and back issues. An oblique strain suffered July 4 knocked him out another month.

At long last, though, his body feels right. And the end result has been utter dominance. He struck out 12 batters in his Aug. 8 return from the DL. He struck out 13 batters last week against the Mets. And Tuesday night he one-upped that by striking out 14 Phillies, matching the career high he established in his memorable MLB debut five years ago.

This was, by multiple measurements, the best start of Strasburg's career. He allowed only one hit (Cody Asche's sharp single through the right side of the infield in the fifth inning). He walked only one batter. He struck out 14. He induced 30 swings and misses, only the third MLB pitcher to do that in the last decade (along with Clayton Kershaw and Johan Santana).

His "Game Score" of 93 was a career best, and fifth-best in Nationals history, trailing only Max Scherzer's no-hitter and 1-hitter from earlier this year and Jordan Zimmermann's no-hitter and 2-hit shutout from last year. Had he been allowed to pitch the ninth and recorded two more strikeouts, he would have matched Scherzer's 100 "Game Score" in Milwaukee from June.

"He was dominant tonight," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "Filthy changeup. That's probably one of the best, if not the best, pitched games I've seen all year."

Andres Blanco, Philadelphia's veteran infielder, compared Strasburg to one of the most-feared pitchers in baseball history: "Nolan Ryan. I saw that on TV when I was a kid. Whew."

It may feel like too little too late for a Nationals club that has all but mathematically been eliminated from the NL East race. But if nothing else, it's further evidence that Strasburg's maddening struggles earlier this season weren't the beginning of the end for the right-hander.

Turns out Stephen Strasburg is just fine after all, and there may still be plenty more nights like this ahead for him and the Nationals.

MORE NATIONALS: Harper on Williams: 'I love him as a manager'

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Did Max Scherzer's dance moves cause the Junkies' broadcast to lose power?

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Did Max Scherzer's dance moves cause the Junkies' broadcast to lose power?

Watching Max Scherzrer rack up Ks during a game is a usual sight for fans.

Dancing is not.

On Wednesday while the Sports Junkies were broadcasting at Nats Spring Training in West Palm Beach, we got a taste of what the back-to-back Cy Young Award winner has to offer on the dance floor. 

With just about a week left until their season kicks off, manager Dave Martinez hired a DJ for the day's workout, saying he wanted to "turn it up a notch." 

Well he turned it up a few too many notches, causing the back end of the complex where the Junkies were broadcasting to lose power.

While the Junkies were put in a pickle because of said DJ, we were able to get a glance of Scherzer dancing to Drakes' "God's Plan."


It's nice to see the usually lazer-focused pitcher let loose.

While Scherzer's dance moves didn't actually cause the Junkies to lose power, it's nice to think they were too much for the ballpark to handle. 

106.7 The Fans Sports Junkies simulcasts on NBC Sports Washington every weekday morning from 6:00 to 10:00 am ET. You can stream the Sports Junkies right here

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The sound of Bryce Harper's first spring training HR is beautiful


The sound of Bryce Harper's first spring training HR is beautiful

It's that wonderful time of year again — when baseball teams flock to warmer climates for spring training and the regular season is practically around the corner — and Bryce Harper is already killing it.

It took the Washington Nationals a few games to brush away their offseason cobwebs and get back into gear, but since the beginning of March, they're riding a five-game win streak as of Sunday the 4th.

They are 6-4-1 in spring training going into Monday's matchup against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Since Thursday, the Nats have taken down — in order — the Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, defending World Series champion Houston Astros, the Detroit Tigers and the Mets again. Sunday's 6-2 win against the Tigers was in large part thanks to Harper's bat, as the star of the team drilled his first home run of spring training. 


Turn up the volume for this one because the sound of Harper's contact with the ball is just beautiful — and perhaps enough to get you pumped for the March 29 opener.

Harper blew this ball away in the bottom of the third for a two-run homer with Howie Kendrick on base. He also had a single in the fourth and finished the game with three RBI.

Gio Gonzalez was the winning pitcher for the Nats.