WASHINGTON -- Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg pitched like a man on a mission Saturday night at Nationals Park. On the day he was activated from the disabled list, Strasburg was dominating during a 6-1 victory over the Rockies.
Strasburg was dealing across seven innings, allowing one run on three hits and striking out a season-high 12 batters. The one run was scored on a homer by Nolan Arenado.
"He didn't look like he was coming off the DL," Rockies right fielder Carlos Gonzalez said. "His stuff was electric today. His fastball was moving a lot with velocity and his breaking ball was really good, too. It's really sharp. It looks like it's going to be around the strike zone and then it goes down quick to the ground. As soon as you see, you already swung the bat and you get yourself in trouble."
Strasburg even wielded a mighty stick at the plate, going 3-for-3. The way he saw it, though, he was lucky to get on base. He was 0-for-16 entering the game.
"I ran into the first one," Strasburg said. "I was thinking as I hit it, it was going to be my best chance this year. I hit it as hard as I could. You know as they say, sometimes you need one of those hits to get things going. I started to feel a little more comfortable."
But it's what Strasburg did on the mound that opened eyes. The Nationals need him to be at his best as they chase the first-place Mets in the National League East.
"I thought Stephen looked great," teammate Ryan Zimmerman said. "He attacked. He used his fastball on 0-2 counts. He was pounding the zone. He kept the ball down. It's the best I've seen him in a long time.
"Hopefully, this kind of bad luck he's been having, hopefully, he will get rid of those [injuries] and be that guy for the next 2 1/2 months. That was special."
The 2015 season has been a frustrating one for Strasburg. He has made two trips to the DL. The first one was in late May because of neck tightness. Strasburg missed almost a month of action while trying to fix his pitching mechanics.
It was a different story when he was hurt July 4. Strasburg strained his left oblique against the Giants after cruising for 3 2/3 innings, allowing one hit and striking out three.
After inducing a groundout from Buster Posey for the second out of the fourth, Strasburg grabbed at his left side and left the game. It marked the third time Strasburg had to leave a game this season because of an injury. He also had problems with his back but didn't go to the DL because of it.
"It's been an up and down year. It's been a huge learning experience. I'm excited to have another opportunity and get ready for the next [start]," Strasburg said.