BALTIMORE – Stephen Strasburg had a very short stint on a terribly long day for the Washington Nationals, who are struggling with injuries to key players in their effort to repeat as World Series champions.
Strasburg threw only 16 pitches before leaving with a recurring nerve issue in his right hand in the first inning of Washington's 15-3 rout of the Baltimore Orioles on Friday night.
The World Series MVP declined through a team spokesman to speak with reporters after the game, but manager Dave Martinez said Strasburg would be re-evaluated Saturday.
Martinez said Strasburg was feeling numbness and tingling in his thumb and that the sensation originated in the wrist.
“I’m going to do everything I can to take care of him. I don’t want to see him out there shaking his hand in pain,” Martinez said. “I think the best thing right now is to kind of shut him down and see if we can get this straightened out.”
The Nationals withstood the injury to Strasburg after rebounding from a defeat that took five days to decide and weathering a lengthy rain delay.
After putting off the beginning of his season to address his ailing hand, Strasburg was making his second start of the year. His first outing came against the Orioles in a game that was suspended Sunday at Nationals Park and completed Friday at Camden Yards with Baltimore winning 6-2.
In Strasburg's abbreviated second start, he gave up a solo homer to Anthony Santander and got two outs before departing. Erick Fedde (1-1) was exceptional in relief, allowing just two hits over 5 1/3 scoreless innings.
Nationals prospect Luis García was summoned from the team’s alternate site to replace injured Starlin Castro, who broke his wrist in Friday's first game. The 20-year-old García started at second base in his big league debut; his first hit came off Tommy Milone (1-2) and he picked up his first two RBIs with a double the eighth.
“It was difficult," Martinez said. “We lose our starting second baseman and then Stephen goes down."
The Nationals banged out 19 hits, and Carter Kieboom had 11 assists, a team record for a third baseman.
A long day for both teams began with the completion of the game Sunday that was suspended because of a tarp malfunction in Washington.
Baltimore led 5-2 in the top of the sixth when rain halted play. The grounds crew failed to get a tangled-up tarp out in time to prevent the infield from becoming an unplayable quagmire that could not be dried.
The game resumed at Camden Yards with the Nationals serving as the home team.
Wearing their road gray uniforms, the Orioles secured a better-late-than-never victory that stretched their winning streak to six. The surge began with wins on Friday and Saturday in Washington and continued with a three-game sweep in Philadelphia.
“It was definitely strange having to wait five days for that one,” Orioles catcher Bryan Holaday said. “I’m glad we were able to get that in and seal the deal.”
Minutes after the final out, the grounds crew brought out the tarp and covered the field flawlessly before a heavy rain delayed the series opener for nearly two hours.
It was the second time during this anything-goes season the Orioles played the role of the road team while at home. They dropped a pair to Miami as the “visitors” earlier this month.
Before the rain came Sunday, Baltimore got two RBIs apiece from Hanser Alberto and Santander in a five-run fifth against Strasburg (0-1), one of many stars for the Nationals in their World Series win last year.
Travis Lakins (2-0) got the victory by retiring the only batter he faced to end the fourth.
Nationals: García wasn't the only Nationals player to make his big league debut. Summoned from the team's alternate site Friday afternoon, 29-year-old RHP Dakota Bacus retired all six batters he faced in the completion of Sunday's game. ... LHP Sam Freeman (flexor strain) was moved to the 60-day IL.
Orioles: Selected the contract of RHP Chandler Shepherd and optioned RHP David Hess to their alternate site at Double-A Bowie.
Nationals: LHP Sean Doolittle (10-day IL, right knee) is going to wait a bit before he pitches off a mound. “I kind of want his knee to feel fine before he starts throwing,” Martinez said. “We don’t want him to develop any bad habits.”
Nationals: Patrick Corbin (2-0, 2.50) makes his fourth start of the season Saturday night, the first against a team that isn't based in New York. Both his wins have come against the Mets.
Orioles: Asher Wojciechowski (0-1, 3.95) makes his sixth career appearance against the Nationals, still looking for his first win against them.
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