Stephen Strasburg was definitely impressive on Tuesday night. From the moment he signed his contract on August 17, 2009, fans of baseball have been awaiting the phenom’s debut. At 7:05, Strasburg finally delivered his first major league pitch: a 97 mile per hour fastball, inside to Andrew McCutchen. The crowd booed. They’ll learn. Not every pitch that Strasburg throws is a strike.
I would like to take a second to discuss my favorite part of the night. In the top of the third inning, Jason Jaramillo led off the third inning by staring helplessly at four pitches. The final pitch, an 83 mile per hour curveball, belt high on the outside half of the plate, was responded to by a Tom Hallion jab behind home plate that would have made Muhammad Ali proud.
Strasburg’s final line: 7 innings pitched, 4 hits, 2 runs, 14 strikeouts, 1 hr; 18 swings and misses, 94 pitches
Talk about composure. A rookie making his major league debut and he walks not one batter? Upon giving up a home run to Delwyn Young in the 4th inning, Strasburg retired the next 10 batters, 8 by strike out. And just like that, after 7 brilliant innings, his night was over. He had done his job, handed the ball over to the generally trustworthy tandem of Tyler Clippard and Matt Capps, and that was that. Almost like clockwork, “Clipp n’ Save” teamed up for 2 innings of work, allowing 1 hit while striking out three batters. That ended a night in which the Nationals pitching staff struck out 17 batters and walked none. As far as those batters who were lucky enough to put a ball in play, 5 of them reached base, including the home run, 7 of them grounded out, and 2 of them flied out.
Not to be lost in the fantastic pitching performances is the combination of Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Dunn, and Josh Willingham, who combined were 7-for-11, 3 home runs, 4 runs batted in, and 5 runs scored.
There is a lot to be excited about if you are a Nationals fan – and even a baseball fan in general – about this Washington Nationals team. Strasburg’s next start is scheduled for Sunday, but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. Tomorrow night, the Nationals will try to win their first series in over a week. Livan Hernandez John Lannan, who gets batters out with a slightly different technique than Strasburg, will be on the hill.
Update: I apologize for the error. As of last night, MLB.com still had Hernandez scheduled to start tonight’s game. It is actually John Lannan.
About the Author
Written by Sam Diament