Stephen Strasburg got the win in the Washington Nationals’ 13-4 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Thursday. But while his pitching performance was nothing more than pedestrian, his day at the plate was one of the best ever for a pitcher in the modern era.
Strasburg went 3-for-3 with a home run and five RBIs to power the Washington offense by singlehandedly driving in more runs than the entire Atlanta lineup.
Strasburg Collects Two Hits in Third Inning
In doing so, Strasburg became only the second pitcher to tally at least three hits, a home run, and five RBIs in a game since the designated hitter began being used in the American League in 1973. Micah Owings accomplished the same feat in 2007, also doing so against the Braves.
Strasburg did most of his damage during the Nationals’ eight-run third-inning outburst. The pitcher led off the inning with a single, eventually coming around to score Washington’s first run. The Nats would go on to bat around, and when Strasburg came up again, he took Touki Toussaint deep with two men on base to collect his fourth career home run.
“That’s just how crazy this game is,” Strasburg told reporters after the game. “Obviously my focus is going out there and trying to keep the other team at bay, but sometimes you just run into the ball. I’ve always been told that a swinging bat is a dangerous one.”
While Strasburg wasn’t quite as successful on the mound, he still put in an effective performance that was more than enough to help Washington hold its big lead. Strasburg would end up going 5.1 innings, allowing three earned runs on eight hits while striking out seven. Strasburg got the win, improving his record to 12-4 on the season.
Hot Streak Gets Nats Back Into NL East Race
The hitting performance was all the more impressive considering that Strasburg has never been considered a particularly good hitting pitcher. While he’s not an automatic out, the 30-year-old had a career .141 batting average heading into Thursday’s game, and has never compiled than seven RBIs in a season.
“You don’t expect much out of that spot,” Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman told MLB.com. “So, if you can turn the lineup over, and obviously drive in some runs and do what Stras did, it’s sort of a bonus. You don’t expect to get it out of that spot.”
While Strasburg’s performance was the story of the night, the win was a big one for the Nationals. At 51-44, Washington is currently in second place in the NL East, 5.5 games behind the Braves. If the season ended today, the Nationals would make the playoffs as one of the National League’s two wild card teams.
That position comes after a hot streak for Washington, which has won 14 of its last 18 games. That has seen the team get more respect from bookmakers, as the Nationals are now a 28/1 choice to win the World Series this year at FanDuel Sportsbook, similar to other teams fighting for playoff positions like the Boston Red Sox (28/1) and the Milwaukee Brewers (28/1).