Nationals place Stephen Strasburg on the 15-day disabled list with neck tightness

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After making an early exit from last night’s start, Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg has been placed on the 15-day disabled list due to neck tightness.

Strasburg threw just 16 pitches in his start against the Reds last night before leaving in the bottom of the second inning. The specific diagnosis was tightness in his left trapezius muscle. Strasburg left a start against the Marlins on May 5 with discomfort under his right shoulder blade, but it’s unclear whether the issues are related.

One thing that is clear is that Strasburg hasn’t looked like himself for a while now. He owns a 6.55 ERA through 10 starts this season (second-highest in the majors among pitchers with 40 innings pitched) and hasn’t completed six innings in a start since April 25. He has a 45/14 K/BB ratio over 45 1/3 innings and his velocity has been fine, but his swinging strike rate sits at seven percent, which is four percent below his career average and 1.9 percent below the league average for starters so far this season.

It’s worth noting that Strasburg sprained his left ankle late in spring training, so some have speculated that he changed something to compensate for the injury. Who knows if that’s actually the case, but simply getting some time off just to regroup could be beneficial.

Pujols hits 701st career home run, connects for Cardinals

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ST. LOUIS — Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hit his 701st home run, connecting Friday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Pujols launched a slider from former teammate Johan Oviedo over the Big Mac Land sign in left field at Busch Stadium. The solo drive in the fourth inning made it 1-all.

Pujols faced Oviedo for the first time and made the 24-year-old righty the 456th different pitcher he’s homered against.

The St. Louis star hadn’t homered in a week since hitting No. 699 and 700 at Dodger Stadium last Friday. Pujols had gone 10 at-bats without a home run after two starts and one pinch-hit appearance.

The Busch Stadium crowd gave the 42-year-old Pujols a long standing ovation before he came out of the Cardinals dugout to tip his cap for a curtain call.

Pujols hit his 22nd home run this season for the NL Central champion Cardinals.

Pujols is fourth on the career home run list behind Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714).