Dodgers fans got the best of both worlds on Tuesday night. They got to see Stephen Strasburg up close and personal as he carved up an offense, and then got to see the Dodgers storm back to tie the Nationals once Strasburg left the game. The game in Washington DC is in rain delay as of 6:37 p.m. PDT, with the Dee Gordon on first base after an infield single with two outs in the top of the seventh inning with the score tied 3-3.
Strasburg was simply awesome in his first major league game in 380 days. He was on a limit of roughly four innings or 60 pitches, but was so efficient through four frames that he was allowed to pitch the fifth inning. In those five innings, he allowed just two hits, including one that was really a routine play to shortstop Ian Desmond. Strasburg struck out four and walked none, and walked off the mound with a 3-0 lead and a much-deserved standing ovation.
The 56 pitches thrown by Strasburg would have the fewest by a starting pitcher in a win this year, five fewer than previous record holders Micah Owings and Clay Buchholz, if the Dodgers hadn't scored three runs to tie the game in the sixth inning. The last time a winning starting pitcher threw 56 pitches or less was on September 27, 2008, when Greg Maddux threw 47 pitches in six innings as the Dodgers beat the Giants.
Ted Lilly had a potentially horrific opening stanza, loading the bases with two walks and a single. However, his 32-pitch inning yielded no runs as Lilly also struck out three. However, damage was done in the second inning. Lilly threw 26 more pitches in the second, allowing back-to-back doubles by Chris Marrero and Wilson Ramos, then making a throwing error on a sacrifice attempt by Strasburg. Another single and a ground ball later, and the Nationals had themselves a three-run inning.
Lilly settled down to last five innings without any more damage, and even struck out a season-high-tying nine batters. But he also walked three, the third time in his last four starts with three or more free passes.
The Dodgers tied the game in the top of the sixth thanks to five hits and a walk off Doug Slaten and Brad Peacock, who could best be described as not Strasburg.
Nationals' second baseman Danny Espinosa has had a poor start to the four-game series so far, as he has struck out in all seven plate appearances.
The forecast calls for rain for most of the rest of the night. We could be headed for a repeat of earlier this season at Petco Park in San Diego. On April 8, the Dodgers had over three hours worth of rain delays (in another Ted Lilly start), and the game was eventually suspended while tied 2-2 in the ninth inning. The game was resumed the next day, completed, then 30 minutes later the Dodgers and Padres played their regular-scheduled game for that day.
Who knows when a decision on tonight's game will be made? But if it is suspended, the game could be made up tomorrow before the scheduled game, or perhaps a dream scenario as suggested by Bob Timmermann:
Dream situation in DC: Game tied, would be suspended. Rainout tmw. Completion + DH on Thursday!
The game situation is this:
- 2 outs, top 7th
- Dee Gordon on first base
- James Loney at the plate, facing Brad Peacock
Trent Oeltjen pinch hit for reliever Hong-Chih Kuo earlier in the seventh inning