Strasburg has 14 Ks in 5-2 debut win

Even before he took the mound for his National League debut tonight in Washington, Stephen Strasburg had become a household name. The flame-throwing pitcher’s debut came just one year after signing a record $15.1 million contract with the Nationals.

Hoping to help lift a slumping Nats team, Strasburg was put on the fast track to the majors. Facing the Pittsburgh Pirates, the 21-year-old phenom lived up to the hype, striking out 14 of the 21 batters he faced and giving up two runs, both coming on a two-run dinger by Delwyn Young.

The most impressive stat may be the fact he walked not a single batter, even after falling behind 3-0 and 3-1 on a few occasions.

With a wicked curve ball coupled with his smoking fastball that reached 100 mph and was consistently in the high 90 mph range, Strasburg’s debut came in front of more than 40,000 fans at a standing room only Nationals Park.

After being greeted with a standing ovation, first inning jitters were apparent as Strasburg had trouble finding the strike zone, but once he found it, he was almost unstoppable.

Before taking the mound tonight, Strasburg was a sensation. During his short time at Triple-A Syracuse, he had a 1.08 ERA. He struck out 38 batters in 33.1 innings and walked only seven. Earlier this week, a baseball card of Strasburg sold on eBay for around $17,000 and tickets to tonight’s game were sold out within two hours of the announcement that Strasburg was being called up and starting.

Often compared to Kerry Wood, among other pitchers who have had incredible rookie years, Strasburg does appear to be somewhat different. Looking at all the angles, his mechanics, for one, are better than Wood’s. He was able to mix up his pitches, so hitters really didn’t know what his first pitch to them would be. But it was that awesome curve ball that was a joy for fans to watch, but a frustration to Pirates batters.

With this 5-2 win under his belt, Strasburg has a decision to make. The mayor of the town of Strasburg, VA, has said that if Strasburg won his first game, he would be awarded the Pride of Strasburg Award. If Strasburg accepts it in person, the town will be renamed Stephen Strasburg, VA, for one week.

Keep watching this kid. He looks like the real deal, and if he stays healthy, his career could provide historic numbers and end at Cooperstown in baseball’s Hall of Fame.

Re-printed with permission of the author.
In addition to contributing to Sports Climax, Miriam Romain maintains a Chicago Cubs column for The Chicago native has also been published in several Cubs annuals by Maple Street Press and is writing a book with the working title “Summers at Wrigley with my Dad.”

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