Strasburg lived up to every bit of the hype in his MLB debut (Photo by Getty Images).
Strasburg Fans 14 Batters in Seven Innings of Work
Washington, D.C. (Tuesday, June 8, 2010) – At no point in Major League Baseball (MLB) history has a single player’s debut been as anticipated as that of Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg, who made his first MLB appearance tonight against the Pittsburg Pirates at Nationals Park. What appeared to be an unattainable amount of hype accompanied Strasburg to the mound this evening, but the young hurler absolutely crushed and far exceeded any expectations that were set for him.
"The only thing I really remember was the first pitch. It was a ball inside," Strasburg said after a dominating seven-inning performance. "Everything else was a blur. At one point I lost track of how many innings I threw. It was like I'm just going to go out and have fun. It's just like getting married. You go out, want to remember everything, and when it's over, you can't remember a single thing."
Strasburg was married earlier this year, but his soul mates tonight were a Rawlings baseball and the mitt of future MLB Hall of Fame catcher Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez.
“I’ve been catching a lot of guys,” Rodriguez commented. “But this kid is unbelievable.”
Strasburg was absolutely dazzling over the 94-pitch outing, striking out an astonishing 14 batters in seven innings of work while walking none and giving up only two runs.
"Strikeouts are more of an accident than anything," Strasburg stated. "You want to go out there and let them put the ball in play. It happens some games, but not all games are going to be like this."
The only extra base hit of the night against Strasburg, who was the first overall pick in the 2009 MLB Draft, was a two-hour homerun by Pirates outfielder Delwyn Young in the 4th inning. That frame was the only time that Strasburg was in any significant trouble after giving up a pair of singles to lead off the inning. Pittsburg outfielder Garrett Jones then grounded into a double play, advancing infielder Neil Walker to third base. Young then did his damage, but the inning ended on an Adam LaRoche pop out in the next at bat.
The young phenom did not allow that 4th frame to discourage him. Not only did no more Pirates cross home plate, none of them ever made it to first base. On the evening, Strasburg struck out the side three times, and the National bats provided the rookie sensation with the eventual win after he was removed in the middle of the seventh inning. He could have undoubtedly gone the distance and gotten the complete game, but team officials had him on a pitch count of somewhere in the neighborhood of 90 throws.
"I'm proud of him," Rodríguez continued. "I'm proud of the organization, the whole city of Washington. The fans came to see what they wanted to see. There's nothing better than that."
For the first time in the five-year history of the Nationals, the future seems very bright. Just yesterday, Washington selected another phenomenal young prospect first overall in the MLB Draft when they took 17-year-old Bryce Harper, after the Las Vegas native had surfaced as the obvious top pick. If he takes off in the direction that last year’s first selection appears to be headed, there will definitely be a whole lot more to cheer about in the nation’s capital for quite some time.