TORONTO (AP) —The longer the Washington Nationals remain in the playoff hunt, the more Stephen Strasburg’s innings limit will loom over the team.
On Wednesday, a nail-trimming mishap provided a timely reason for Washington to curtail Strasburg’s outing.
Strasburg won his fifth straight start, Tyler Moore hit the first two home runs of his career and the Nationals beat the Toronto Blue Jays 6-2 Wednesday to complete a three-game sweep.
Strasburg (8-1) left after six innings because of what manager Davey Johnson called a “slight cut” on his middle finger, something that happened as the right-hander was trimming a ragged nail between innings.
“It was nothing major,” Strasburg said. “I definitely don’t think it affected the way the ball was coming out or anything. I wanted to go out there again.”
Strasburg lobbied to stay in the game, telling Johnson it only aggravated the cut when he threw one of his breaking pitches, but his manager wasn’t interested.
“He said ‘I just won’t throw that pitch,”’ Johnson said. “I said ‘No, you won’t throw any more pitches. We’ve got a long way to go. You pitched a heck of a ballgame, we’ll save it for you.’
“I didn’t want him to come out there and cut it further and expand that little wound,” Johnson added. “Then he might have to miss a start and I didn’t want that.”
Strasburg, whose rookie season in 2010 was cut short by elbow surgery, is expected to be limited to approximately 165 innings this season.
With an off-day Thursday, Strasburg will get an extra day of rest before his next start, meaning the injury isn’t likely to keep him off the mound.
“It should calm down,” Johnson said. “Hopefully our doctors and trainers can heal him up.”
Strasburg allowed two runs and five hits in six innings. He walked one and struck out eight, raising his major league leading total to 100. He threw 89 pitches, 62 for strikes.
“Once I started to get my curveball over for a strike it really changed the ball game,” Strasburg said.
Craig Stammen worked two innings and Brad Lidge finished for the Nationals, who have won nine of 11 overall.
Ian Desmond also went deep as Washington completed the first undefeated six-game road trip since the franchise relocated from Montreal. The NL East-leading Nationals, who swept Boston at Fenway Park last weekend, outscored the Red Sox and Blue Jays 31-16.
“We’re no longer a secret to anybody,” Johnson said. “We’re a pretty good ballclub, and not just pitching.”
Recalled from Triple-A Syracuse last week, Moore started in place of Adam LaRoche, who was out after fouling a ball off his right foot in Tuesday’s victory.
“I thanked him for sitting out today,” Moore said with a smile.
Moore went 3 for 4 with five RBIs.