"I knew [the Astros] were going to be out there hacking and stuff, because obviously they're all out there trying to get a job, too. But bottom line is that I know that I'm going to be able to pound the zone, pound down in the zone with my fastball as I get on the bump more times."
Strasburg was given a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning, when Jason Michaels singled to center field, scoring Michael Morse.
But Strasburg didn't have the lead for long. In the top of the third inning. Chris Snyder swung at Strasburg's 3-1 fastball and hit the ball over the left-field wall to tie the score at 1. Snyder came away impressed with the way Strasburg has been able to come back from Tommy John Surgery.
"He's got a lot of stuff, definitely," Snyder said. "That first fastball he threw me gets on you and then he buckled me with a curveball. The kid's got a lot of stuff, definitely. He's got good ride on them [fastballs]. It will ride back through the zone. That was the first time I faced him.
"Obviously, you hear about him, but it's definitely live stuff -- him coming off Tommy John and Day 2 of Spring Training games. He's definitely got good stuff."
Strasburg left the game in the third inning with two outs and a runner on second. Like all the Nationals' starters, Strasburg was on a pitch limit to start the exhibition season. He threw 44 pitches, 26 for strikes.
Manager Davey Johnson wasn't surprised that Strasburg was getting better as the game progressed. The skipper pointed out that Strasburg was solid after he returned to the big leagues last September.
"He was in such a good groove at the end of the year. All winter long, he was waiting to be a normal person [in camp]. But he is an aggressive pitcher," Johnson said. "He has a lot of talent. I'm sure he had a little adrenalin out there. I don't know how hard he was throwing, but he was amped. It looked like he really got loose about the third inning."
Strasburg can see a difference in the way he felt on Sunday compared to last year. In Sunday's game, he didn't feel tired between innings like he did last September. It helped that he worked hard during the offessaon to get his arm in shape.
"I think all the work that I put in the offseason, it really changed going out," Strasburg said. "Trying to go three innings the first time out, it should be easy, but at the same time, it's been a while, so I was pretty happy.
"It's Day 1 of Spring Training. A lot can happen. My arm feels a lot better than it did last year. It feels a lot stronger. So I'm just going to keep building off that."