Strasburg faces Pirates, looking for career-high 16th win

Field Level Media

Right-hander Stephen Strasburg has been a face of the Washington Nationals for most of this decade.

On Tuesday, he is poised to earn a career-best 16th victory of the season as the visiting Nationals face the Pittsburgh Pirates in the second game of a four-game series.

Strasburg (15-5, 3.82 ERA) leads the National League in wins. He has reached 15 three times before, most recently in 2017.

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On Wednesday, Strasburg picked up a victory in a 17-7 pasting of Cincinnati. He gave up four runs and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings, with three walks and four strikeouts.

Afterward, he seemed more interested in the fact he got things started in a 10-run fifth inning by driving in the Nationals' first run with a single. Strasburg has a career-best eight RBIs this year.

"I guess you lower your expectations enough and you just try and grind," he said, according to the Washington Post. "You just try and make it as hard as possible on the pitcher."

If Washington continues its recent trend, Strasburg shouldn't have to worry about run support. The Nationals have hit 12 homers over their past two games and have scored 62 runs over their past five games.

That includes four homers among 11 extra-base hits Monday in a 13-0 victory over Pittsburgh in the series opener. It was Washington's seventh victory in the past eight games.

The Pirates have lost three in a row, are 7-28 since the All-Star break and -- as the yin to Washington's yang -- have totaled four runs over their past four games.

What, Pittsburgh's Clint Hurdle was asked, can a manager say to his club during such a stretch?

"First of all, we have conversations periodically, so we try and provide a maintenance for the grind of the season," Hurdle said. "We spoke to the team (Monday). What you don't do is, you don't speak to your team four times a day. You don't speak to them before the game, after the game. You just don't.

"I don't think any of us like to be harped upon. We remind them when we think things are appropriate -- especially game-appropriate. The best way I've found to go about this is you pull them off individually and have a conversations with them individually."

On Tuesday, Strasburg is scheduled to face Pittsburgh right-hander Chris Archer (3-9, 5.23 ERA).

Strasburg is 6-2 with a 2.40 ERA in nine career starts against Pittsburgh. In his past two starts against the Pirates, he has allowed two earned runs in 14 2/3 innings, with 19 strikeouts and 3 walks.

Archer is 0-4 with a 5.26 ERA in his past 12 starts, and Pittsburgh has lost each of his past seven outings.

On Wednesday, Archer took the loss in a 7-4 setback against the Los Angeles Angels, giving up four runs (three earned), on five hits and two walks in five innings. He tied a season best with 10 strikeouts.

All four runs against him came in the fourth after he was perfect through three innings. That makes 24 fourth-inning runs allowed (23 earned) in 22 games.

"The second inning and the fourth inning have been problematic, the fourth more so," Hurdle said of Archer. "That's just something we'll continue to talk about and look into. We haven't answered it yet."

Against Washington, Archer is 1-1 with a 2.00 ERA in three career starts.

--Field Level Media

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