Stephen Strasburg stellar as Nationals prevail

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Stephen Strasburg struck out nine in six scoreless innings Sunday in the Nationals’ 4-3 defeat of the Cardinals.

Strasburg departed with a 2-0 lead after six, only to see that get blown right away when Daniel Descalso hit a two-run homer off Sean Burnett in the seventh. The Nationals came back with two runs in the bottom of the inning and held on to win from there.

Strasburg allowed just two hits and one walk in the gem. His ERA dropped back down to 2.94 after climbing over 3.00 in a poor outing versus the Marlins last week, and he reclaimed the National League lead with his 195 strikeouts.

With Strasburg up to 156 1/3 innings on the season, there’s a good chance Friday’s start will be his last. He’s due to face the Marlins at home.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with left ankle injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.