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NATIONALS: Strasburg had Marlins in “swing mode”

The Miami Marlins swung aggressively against Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg on Thursday. Then again, when Strasburg is on, that’s the effect he has on most lineups.

Nats manager Matt Williams calls that aggressive approach “swing mode,” and Strasburg definitely forced the Marlins into that mindset early.

Strasburg used his mid-90s fastball to set up his changeup, and he mixed some wicked breaking balls in there as well in the Nats’ 7-1 win over the Marlins.

“You want to get anybody as a hitter in swing mode and get them looking for fastball and throw them something else,” Williams said. “But you have to establish that first, and he did that today. [His fastball is] 95-plus and it’s got a little movement, and when he can throw his changeup off of it, it looks like a fastball coming out of his hand and it’s got some depth to it too, so they end up swinging over top of it. He was really good pounding the zone.”

Strasburg threw 98 pitches, 71 for strikes, in his 6 ⅔-inning outing. He struck out 12 batters and allowed only three hits and one run — a solo home run by Marcell Ozuna in the seventh inning.

Strasburg said he could have lasted longer in the game, but Williams decided to pull him with his hitting spot coming up in the bottom of the seventh.

“I was cruising. I felt strong. I was definitely seeing the finish line,” Strasburg said. “You’ve got to come out when the skip goes out there and takes the ball out of your hands.”

Strasburg was dominant over the first six innings. He allowed a leadoff single in the first and then set down the next 14 batters he faced.

“What’d he have, like 30 strikeouts? He was phenomenal,” Nats second baseman Anthony Rendon said. “He’s not afraid to attack hitters. That’s what he does. He trusts his stuff.”

ROOKIE RELIEVER IMPRESSING

Nationals rookie reliever Aaron Barrett struck out the Marlins in order in the eighth inning. He got MLB RBI-leader Giancarlo Stanton to strike out swinging to end the inning.

In four innings this season, Barrett has allowed no hits and no runs while walking one. He has six strikeouts.

“He’s a bulldog. He’s not scared of anybody,” Strasburg said. “That’s why he’s on this team.”

That mentality certainly helped against the hard-hitting Stanton, who has two home runs and 13 RBIs this season. Stanton has a way of making pitchers look bad with his tape-measure shots into the outfield seats.

None of that fazed Barrett.

“You definitely have to embrace it,” he said. “You try to execute every pitch and get guys out.”

RENDON EXTENDS HITTING STREAK

Rendon has now hit in all nine games this season, the longest streak to start a season in Nationals history.

Rendon shrugged off the accomplishment afterward, though he admitted that it’s a good sign for a lineup that could use his on-base prowess in the No. 2 spot.

“Try to put it into context — it’s nine games. It’s not that big of a deal,” he said.

Permalink: http://news.fredericksburg.com/warters-sports-corner/2014/04/10/nationals-strasburg-had-marlins-in-swing-mode/

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