JUPITER -- Nationals’ flame-throwing phenom Stephen Strasburg got all the attention, but Marlins starter Wade LeBlanc had the better outing Friday night at Roger Dean Stadium.
The Marlins beat the Nationals 3-0, with Strasburg taking the loss and LeBlanc getting the win.
Strasburg, 23, who is making a comeback after elbow surgery, allowed two runs on two hits, walked one and struck out two in three innings. His fastball was near 100 mph, and he threw 46 pitches, 32 for strikes.
LeBlanc, a soft-throwing left-hander whose pitches were in the low 80s, allowed one hit in four innings while striking out five. Consistently in front in every count, LeBlanc did not give up a walk, hit one batter, and threw 53 pitches, 42 for strikes.
“If you can string together a couple good outings and hopefully make the decision hard on them, that is always a plus,” LeBlanc said.
Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen was impressed.
“I love guys that do that in spring training because they make our job very tough,” Guillen said. “He has been the best one throwing the ball in spring training for us. He has thrown the ball very consistent. It is fun to watch that.”
It was LeBlanc’s first start of the spring, and of his Marlins career, after he was acquired in November in a trade with San Diego for catcher John Baker.
LeBlanc, 27, was starting in place of Anibal Sanchez, whose first start of spring has been pushed back to Wednesday due to tightness in his right shoulder.
If LeBlanc does not make it is a starter, he could be a long reliever.
“It’s still too early about what people are going to do. Maybe a couple more weeks,” Guillen said.
LeBlanc was 5-6 with a 4.63 ERA last season in 14 starts with San Diego last season.
Strasburg was already a star when he was the first pick of the 2009 draft, known for his 100-plus mph fastball.
After burning through the minors in 2009, Strasburg was called up in June 2010 and went 5-3 with a 2.91 ERA, recording 92 strikeouts in 68 innings. But Washington had to shut him down in August with what proved to be torn ligaments in his right elbow damage, and he had surgery that kept him out until September of last season.
The Nationals are relying on him to anchor their rotation this season.
After being shut down by Strasburg in the first two innings, Bryan Petersen singled in the top of the third and scored on a triple by Jose Reyes. A single by Emilio Bonifacio drove in Reyes for a 2-0 Marlins lead.
The Marlins added another run in the eighth when Scott Cousins singled, stole second and then scored on a single by Nick Green.
Six Marlins pitchers combined to hold the Nationals to four hits before a crowd of 4,879.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times