Seven innings pitched, only four hits and two earned runs allowed, no walks, and 14 strikeouts. One would read that pitching line, and think it's an established major league pitcher such as CC Sabathia, Jon Lester, Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Tim Lincecum, Zack Greinke, Ubaldo Jimenez, or Cliff Lee. But no, it was 21-year-old phenom Stephen Strasburg, making his major league debut for the Washington Nationals on Tuesday night. The Nationals beat the Pittsburgh Pirates, 5-2.
Strasburg was not phased by the sold-out crowd at Nationals Park in Washington, DC, or the local and national media attention, treating him like the newest wunderkind of baseball. Likely hall of famer, Ivan Rodriguez, who caught Strasburg on Tuesday night called his debut unbelievable.
Prior to Tuesday night, Strasburg dominated in the minor leagues. In 11 starts in Double-A and Triple-A, he went 7-2, with a 1.30 ERA, 65 strikeouts, and only 13 walks in 55.1 innings pitched.
According to ESPN, Strasburg worked quickly. The home plate umpire Tom Hallion recommended slowing down his warm-ups, as the break between each inning is longer in the majors. The game took only 2 hours and 19 minutes.
Strasburg threw 94 pitches on the night, 65 for strikes. He was pulled for a pinch hitter after seven innings. His one mistake was a changeup hit by Pirates' third baseman Delwyn Young to right field for a two-run home run in the fourth inning. Strasburg's fastball hit as high as 100 mph on the radar gun.
The home run gave the Pirates a short-lived 2-1 lead. In the sixth inning, Nationals' first baseman Adam Dunn hit a two-run home run, followed by a solo home run by left fielder Josh Willingham. Both home runs came off Pirates' starting pitcher, Jeff Karstens.
Strasburg's night ended on a high note when he struck out the side on 13 pitches in his final inning of work. He struck out the final seven batters he faced, and all nine Pirates in the starting lineup struck out at least once. He tied Max Scherzer of the Detroit Tigers for most strikeouts in a major league game this season. Scherzer struck 14 batters on May 30, against the Oakland Athletics.
During an interview after the game, Strasburg was hit with a shaving cream pie by teammate John Lannan. After being handed a towel, his teammates creamed him with two more shaving cream pies. He was then crowned with an Elvis Presley wig, a Nationals' team ritual in which the team chooses the player of the game.
Strasburg's next scheduled start is Sunday, June 13, at the Cleveland Indians.