While he gave up a two-run shot to Delwyn Young in the fourth inning, he was in tip-top form the rest of the night. Over 94 pitches, the phenom didn't allow a walk while giving up four hits and striking out an otherworldly 14, including three in a row to cap his night after seven innings.
Of the 14 whiffs, six came within the first nine batters of the game as the Pirates couldn't figure out how to combat a heater thrown in the upper 90s (which hit 100 mph at one point) as well as a knee-buckling curve. He also flashed a changeup but largely stayed away from the pitch, considered his weakest.
Fans packed the stadium to watch Strasburg make his major league debut with the 27-31 Nationals, a burgeoning club that will benefit from having the 2009 No. 1 pick in the rotation. While the 23-34 Pirates are hapless, they are still a major league team and Strasburg's dominance was impressive and evident from the first pitch.
Strasburg started the game off with a fastball that was called a ball. It registered 97 mph and was thrown to Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates who went on to line out to shortstop. Just one Pirate — Andy LaRoche — reached base in the first three innings.
Despite inducing a double play in the fourth inning, Strasburg would serve up a gopherball to Young that put the Pirates ahead — temporarily — with a 2-1 score. Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham went deep in the bottom sixth to push ahead 4-2 and put Strasburg in line for his first career win, provided the Nationals bullpen can hold on.
Strasburg's final pitch of the night registered 98.5 mph, punching out LaRoche, showing no signs of fatigue.
Washington manager Jim Riggleman said Strasburg would be under a pitch count of 90 pitches and held true to that, lifting him for reliever Tyler Clippard to start the eighth with Strasburg at 94 pitches.
Future Hall of Fame catcher Ivan Rodriguez, who caught Kevin Brown in his own debut back in 1991, rushed his return from a lower back strain in order to catch Strasburg.
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