Strasburg Off to a Blazing Start
WASHINGTON - New league, same result.
Stephen Strasburg, the $15.1 million pitching prospect who dominated for two months in the minor leagues, struck out a team-record 14 in the Washington Nationals' 5-2 win against the Pittsburgh Pirates before a raucous, sellout crowd of 40,315 at Nationals Park on Tuesday.
Strasburg did not walk a batter in seven innings and fell one strikeout shy of the record for a major league debut, last achieved by the Houston Astros' J.R. Richard in 1971. "I thought there would be a lot more nerves," he said. "I definitely think anything's possible. I didn't have any expectations."
The Nationals certainly did, ever since they made him the No. 1 pick in the June 2009 draft. He's been among the most hyped prospects in baseball history, and when he got to the mound, he didn't disappoint.
His fastball registered 100 mph on several pitches. He threw devastating breaking pitches. And, as the crowd roared with approval, he struck out the final seven Pirates he faced.
He gave up four hits, three in the fourth inning, when Delwyn Young's two-run homer inflicted the only damage. The Pirates came into the game with the fewest runs scored (187) in the National League and tied for the lowest average at .237.
"He was very poised, very electric," Pirates outfielder Lastings Milledge said. "You come in focusing on his fastball, but he didn't give us anything to drive."
Strasburg had six strikeouts in the first three innings.
Young's home run put the Pirates up 2-1, but Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham hit consecutive home runs in the sixth for a 4-2 Nationals lead.
Strasburg's next scheduled start is Sunday in Cleveland.