What a debut Stephen Strasburg had last night in front of 40,000+ at Nationals Park. I have to admit that I was a non-believer. I really thought that with all the hype surrounding this kid and with his lightning quick tour of the minor leagues that he would be a disappointment last night. I really thought that, even though he was facing the Pirates, he was going to get shelled. Not much in this world actually does live up to its hype.
Strasburg has been the talk of the town lately and you really couldn’t talk to another sports fan without the subject of this young phenom coming up. i promised myself that there was no way I was going to get invested in this guy before I saw him throw a single pitch to a player standing in a Major League batter’s box. So over the last couple weeks I have been quite vocal to my friends and family about how I thought that Strasburg wouldn’t make it through 3 innings because the kid would be serving up beachballs that would be getting knocked all around the park. The pressure and the nerves…there was no way that this 21 year old would be able to contain his emotions and get the ball over the plate with any consistency. I was happy to be wrong.
The kid has an incredible arm. The 4-seamer broke the three digit mark a couple times. His breaking ball was buckling the knees of a few of the right handed hitters like they had never seen a curveball before. And his offspeed pitch is just unfair when the hitter has just had his tower buzzed by the 97 mph cheese the pitch before. I know I wouldn’t have wanted to be in the batter’s box facing this guy last night that is for sure.
I started to become a believer at the end of the 2nd inning when 4 of the 6 recorded outs were already strikeouts. I was definitely hooked and reeled in when he left the game with 14 strikeouts on 94 pitches (65 for strikes) after 7 innings. The kid retired the last 10 straight batters and the last 7 were strikeouts. Pretty amazing stuff right there.
To make it to “the show” is the dream of every little kid that has played little league baseball. But to make it and set franchise records on your very first night in the league is beyond even the wild imaginings of those same kids. He set a franchise record for strikeouts in a single game for the Nationals last night. He was also just one off the MLB record for strikeouts by a pitcher in his debut and no one in the modern era has been close (the 15 strikeout record is held by two pitchers, Richard in ’71 and Spooner in ’54).
I think this kid is going to be something special for a very long time. The only question I have rattling around in my brain is how long until he is playing for the Red Sox or Yankees?
photos by Mudflapdc