Stephen Strasburg pitched five-plus innings Thursday night in the first game of an important four-game series in Atlanta against the NL East-leading Braves. It was a solid outing, especially considering the competition: Strasburg struck out seven and allowed three earned runs, and got the win, in large part due to an eight-run explosion from the Nationals offense in the third inning.
It’s what Strasburg did to aid that big inning that deserves your immediate attention. The lanky hurler led off the inning with a single to center, and then tore ass around the bases in order to score from first on an Adam Eaton extra-base hit. That’s a fair amount of offense from a pitcher, but because the Nationals batted around in the inning, Strasburg found himself back at the plate, this time with two men on and Braves reliever Touki Toussaint on the mound. Strasburg took a first-pitch fastball and then socked the absolute bejeezus out of Toussaint’s next pitch for a strong 420-foot homer:
Meh, you are saying, like a wised-up jerk. Pitchers sock dingers all the time. First of all, no the hell they do not! Second of all, as we shall soon see, pitchers do not often collect two hits in a single inning. Third of all, who said Strasburg was done? You just assumed, because he’s a goofy pitcher, that he couldn’t possibly have more batting highlights in store. How wrong you are! Strasburg came up again in the top of the fifth inning, once again with two men on.
Make it a 3-for-3 night with a huge jack and five runs batted in for Strasburg. According to ESPN, Strasburg is the first pitcher since 2010 to collect a home run and another base hit in the same inning, and according to Baseball Reference he became the first pitcher to collect five runs batted in in a game since 2014. The Nationals won by the score of 13–4.