A 51-minute rain delay couldn’t cool off Stephen Strasburg, as the Nationals’ ace allowed one run in six innings and struck out 10 to beat the Braves on Tuesday night.
Ian Desmond and Jesus Flores homered off Paul Maholm in the 4-1 game.
It was Strasburg’s fifth double-digit strikeout game of the season. He improved to 15-5 with a 2.85 ERA.
The delay came with two outs in the bottom of the third inning. As soon as play resumed, Strasburg struck out Martin Prado on four pitches to end the frame. He went on to strike out two more in the fourth and the side in order in the fifth.
Given how careful the Nationals are being with Strasburg, they certainly would have been justified in shutting him down after the delay. Such a decision might have even bought him another start next month as he neared his inning limit. He’s at 145 1/3 innings after going six tonight, which would seem to suggest that he’ll make three more starts.
Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that the Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson are tabling extension talks as the two sides weren’t able to build any momentum towards agreement on a new contract.
Donaldson said, “We’re not quite there. That, to me, right now is not the major focus and I’m turning the page.” He added, “I want to play this season and really focus on winning games because, ultimately, our goal is to win a World Series and I don’t want to hinder that at all.” Donaldson also said he expects to hit free agency.
The 32-year-old avoided arbitration with the Blue Jays last month, agreeing on a $23 million salary for the 2018 season. He’s a free agent at season’s end. Last year, the three-time All-Star hit .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs, 78 RBI, and 65 runs scored in 496 plate appearances. Donaldson missed six weeks in the first half with a calf injury, but was able to return and post terrific numbers, so his health — at least that aspect of it — shouldn’t be a concern going into spring training.
If Donaldson does reach free agency, he’ll join a star-studded group that will likely also include Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Charlie Blackmon, and A.J. Pollock.