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Saturday's Top 5: Welcome back, Mr. Strasburg

1. Strasmas in August: The Washington Nationals needed a shot in the arm after tumbling out of first place in the National League East this week. That shot may have come in the form of Stephen Strasburg, as he returned from the disabled list and put on a clinic against the Colorado Rockies.

In his first start since July 4, Strasburg had everything working on the mound, striking out 12 without issuing a walk. His dozen strikeouts represent a season high, and he didn't stop there. He also collected three hits over the course of his outing, which equaled the amount that Rockies hitters managed off of him. His 10-plus-K, three-hit performance was the first in Nationals franchise history and the first by an NL pitcher in almost two years.

The start also led to a 6-1 Nationals victory over the Rockies. The Nationals spread the offense around, with seven different players in the lineup getting on base multiple times, via either hit or walk. It's only the second time in August that Washington has scored as many as six runs.

The win was badly needed by a team that had gone 3-7 in its previous 10 games, including being swept by the division rival New York Mets. The timing was even better as Noah Syndergaard was roughed up by the Tampa Bay Rays in a 5-4 New York loss, helping the Nationals pick up a game and pull within 1 1/2 games of the division leaders.

The Nats acquired Jonathan Papelbon at the deadline, and still have Drew Storen, the incumbent closer to set him up, so another starter capable of keeping the score low through seven should improve Washington's prospects going forward.

2. The Toronto Blue Jays bombing in the Bronx: The Jays won the second game of their series against the New York Yankees, with a 6-0 victory sealing the series win and leaving Toronto only 2 1/2 games back of the Yankees for the American League East lead. The bulk of the offense came from a sixth-inning grand slam off the bat of Justin Smoak. The first "Smoaked Salami" of his career came off of Ivan Nova and was also the first one ever hit by a Blue Jay in the Bronx. Nova appeared to be laboring, issuing a four-pitch walk to Edwin Encarnacion prior to the blast. Nova hasn't thrown over 100 pitches in a game since returning from Tommy John surgery earlier this year, and the Smoak home run came on his 98th pitch of the ballgame.

On the Toronto pitching side, rental ace David Price went to work, allowing zero runs and striking out seven. The Yankees look to salvage a win behind their workhorse, Masahiro Tanaka, tomorrow as the Jays counter with Marco Estrada. Winners of seven in a row, a Blue Jays sweep means a 1 1/2-game spread and a division truly up for grabs, whereas a loss would put the Yankees 3 1/2 games up.

3. Texas Rangers with late fireworks: What began as a rather pedestrian matchup between Martin Perez and Mike Montgomery took a very late and borderline absurd turn for the worse for the Seattle Mariners. The teams came into the top of the 11th still tied at 3-3 when reliever Rob Rasmussen entered the game for Seattle and had the worst outing of his career.

Starting with Adrian Beltre, he gave up five straight singles and then a double to Chris Gimenez that chased him from the game. Joe Beimel replaced him and immediately allowed a two-run single, saddling Rasmussen with six runs while he failed to record an out. Beimel then recorded one out before being taken deep by Prince Fielder for the seventh and eighth runs of the inning.

As a result of that remarkable ending to an unremarkable game, the Mariners lost 11-3 in 11 innings.

4. Francisco Liriano had a good and bad day at the office: Liriano started the game for the Pittsburgh Pirates and tallied his first career extra-base hit -- a three-run home run off of Los Angeles Dodgers acquisition Mat Latos. Liriano couldn't stick around long enough to get the win on the pitching side, though, struggling through three innings before being replaced by Joe Blanton. Blanton blanked the Dodgers on two hits over three innings, helping the Pirates hold on for a 6-5 victory and maintain their 3 1/2-game lead for the National League's top wild-card berth.

5. Shane Robinson, Minnesota Twins: With the Twins buried deep in a 15-4 hole and the bases loaded, outfielder Robinson drew the short straw and was asked to finish off the Indians. He walked in a run, then found the zone with his 84-mph fastball to record the next two outs. Facing Jerry Sands, who had earlier hit a grand slam, he reached into his bag of tricks (yes, he is an outfielder) and threw with a grip that looked like -- and Pitchf/x registered as -- a 64-mph knuckleball. Sands struck out looking, seeming about as dumbfounded as everybody else in the ballpark.