Strasburg's heat cooled off in Miami

August, 29, 2012
8/29/12
12:33
AM ET

Ronald C. Modra/Getty ImagesStephen Strasburg allowed a career-high seven runs on Tuesday night.
The city of Washington D.C. has had plenty to celebrate with its baseball team this summer, but Tuesday was not a night for cake and party hats among Washington Nationals fans.

Their prized young starter, Stephen Strasburg, suffered one of the worst losses of his career, allowing a career-high seven runs on nine hits in five innings against the Miami Marlins. His season tally now stands at 150⅓ innings pitched with a month remaining in the regular season.

The damage started in the first inning, when Justin Ruggiano took him deep on a 98 MPH fastball, snapping a streak of 16 straight starts without allowing a run in the first inning.

According to Elias Sports Bureau, it was the longest active streak in the majors entering Tuesday.

Ruggiano had two hits against Strasburg, matching the total that right-handed hitters had in 30 at-bats against Strasburg in his previous three starts against the Marlins this season.

Strasburg had dominated the Marlins entering Tuesday with a 4-1 record and 1.56 ERA over seven starts. In fact, the seven runs allowed Tuesday matched the total he had given up in 40⅓ innings against the Marlins before this game. He hadn’t allowed a single run in 18 innings over three career road starts versus them.

Strasburg’s performance on the road had been terrific recently. He was 4-0 with a 1.44 ERA in his previous four road starts prior to Tuesday. Strasburg entered with a 13-3 career road record. Only CC Sabathia had more wins in his first 16 road decisions among active pitchers.

Stephen Strasburg
Strasburg
What went wrong for Strasburg?

The biggest issue was that his fastball wasn’t what it had been in recent outings. Each of the nine hits he allowed came against a heater ranging from 94 to 98 miles-per-hour. That’s the most hits he’s allowed on pitches that fast in any start in his career.

Strasburg’s velocity declined as his start went on. His heater averaged 96.6 MPH in the first two innings and 94.8 MPH after. The Marlins missed on just two of 30 swings against his fastball.

The Marlins forced Strasburg to use his heater by not swinging at his offspeed stuff. They took 20 of the 25 offspeed pitches he threw. Opponents swung at nearly half of Strasburg's offspeed pitches in the first half of the season but have swung at only one-third since the All-Star break.

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