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(AP) — The Washington Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg has picked right up where he left off last season. Unfortunately for the Houston Astros’ Kyle Weiland, it appears he has as well.
Strasburg seeks another strong start Monday night when he opposes Weiland in the opener of a four-game set, looking to get Washington back on track after its five-game winning streak was snapped.
Strasburg (1-0, 0.69 ERA) has pitched like his dominant self through two starts this season, a continuation of his results from the end of 2011, when he missed most of the year following elbow surgery. He posted a 1.50 ERA in five starts last September and has given up one run over 13 innings in 2012.
Strasburg pitched six innings of two-hit ball to defeat Johan Santana and the New York Mets 4-0 on Wednesday. He struck out nine while throwing a career-high 108 pitches.
“I’m going to handle him just like he is perfectly healthy,” manager Davey Johnson said of Strasburg, expected to be limited to 160 innings this season. “There was plenty left in the tank there.”
The 23-year-old right-hander, who will be making his 2012 home debut, has not won in his last six starts in Washington. Strasburg has been noticeably better on the road in his career, going 5-1 with a 1.74 ERA there and 2-3 with a 2.78 ERA at home.
He’s made one start against Houston, a three-inning stint Sept. 11 in which he allowed one run and three hits with four strikeouts and no walks in his second game back from surgery. The Nationals went on to win that contest 8-2, forging a split of the six-game season series with the Astros.
The Nationals (7-3) will look to Strasburg to help them bounce back from an 8-5, 11-inning loss to Cincinnati on Sunday. Washington erased a 5-0, fourth-inning deficit but couldn’t complete the four-game home sweep.
“We’ve won every series. I think that’s our main goal – especially at home,” said reliever Tyler Clippard, who surrendered Joey Votto’s winning two-run double.