NEW YORK -- Maybe Nationals manager Dusty Baker said it best in the clubhouse postgame Friday: Stephen Strasburg has matured. If something goes wrong on the mound, Strasburg doesn't let it bother him like he did in the past. Going through several stints on the disabled list last year helped the right-hander realize what's important when it comes to baseball. He showed that poise once again in a 3-1 win against the Mets at Citi Field.
"I feel like going off of last year, the biggest thing I learned from that is taking it one day at a time," Strasburg said. "Once the start is over, get ready for the next one. I'm just trying to stay in the moment."
Strasburg improved to 12-0 with seven strong innings, allowing a run on two hits. He struck out nine and walked three, and didn't allow a hit until the fifth inning. That gave him a hitless streak of 10 2/3 innings, after he was removed with 6 2/3 no-hit innings in his previous start. Strasburg became the first National League starter to begin a season 12-0 since Rube Marquard set the MLB record in 1912, when he started 19-0. Current teammate Max Scherzer -- then with the Tigers -- is the only other starter to open a year 12-0 in the past 30 seasons in either league; he went 13-0 in 2013.
Strasburg, who ceded his All-Star spot to Scherzer on Friday, faced trouble only once. Asdrubal Cabrera, leading off the fifth, worked the count to 3-2 and hit the ball over the right-field wall for his 12th home run of the season. Brandon Nimmo followed with a single, but Strasburg retired the next three hitters to end the threat.
Five days earlier, Strasburg pitched 6 2/3 innings of no-hit baseball against the Reds, but he was taken out of the game after throwing 109 pitches. In the first four innings against the Mets, Strasburg allowed just two walks, both to Curtis Granderson, and struck out six batters before allowing the home run to Cabrera.
Asked why he has been dominating since coming off the disabled list Sunday, Strasburg said, "The DL stint wasn't something that was impacting my throwing arm. It wasn't a big process to try to get back into things. I think my arm felt good after [the pain in my back subsided]. I was able to throw in between and maintain what I've been working on."
Once the hitless streak ended, Strasburg still went on to put himself in the record books with his 12th win of the year. The Nationals are 15-1 when he starts in 2016.
"It shows how good [my teammates swing the bat] when I pitch," Strasburg said. "I'm just trying to do my part, keep it close and give the guys an opportunity to win it."
To show how amazing his fast start is, the last NL starter to begin a season 11-0 was Andy Hawkins, who did so for the Padres in 1985. Strasburg is the seventh starter since 1913 to open a season 12-0 or better: Eddie Cicotte (12-0 for the White Sox in 1919), Johnny Allen (15-0, Indians, 1937), Dave McNally (15-0, Orioles, 1969), Ron Guidry (13-0, Yankees, 1978), Roger Clemens (14-0, Red Sox, 1986), and Scherzer.
"He has been huge this year," Clint Robinson said. "He has been our ace this year. Every time he takes the ball, we have a good shot to win the game. We have to score some runs for him. He is living up to his reputation that everybody said about him."
Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for MLB.com since 2002 and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.