Stephen Strasburg lived up to the amazing hype surrounding his major league debut Tuesday night, as he struck out 14 batters in seven innings to lead the Nationals over the Pittsburgh Pirates, 5-2.
Strasburg thrilled the standing room only crowd of 40,315 at Nationals Park with a fastball that clocked in at 100 miles per hour, a wicked curve, and a changeup that baffled Pirates hitters. Strasburg gave up only two earned runs and, incredibly, did not walk any batters, striking out the side in the second, sixth, and seventh innings before departing.
Ryan Zimmerman, the Nationals biggest star until Strasburg’s debut, hit a solo home run in the first inning, his 12th, and went 3-4 on the night.
Strasburg, the number one pick in the 2009 draft, surrendered a 2-run homer to Delwyn Young in the fourth inning, but other than that was almost flawless, showing confidence and no apparent jitters.
Most of the excitement, after Strasburg got through the first inning, came in the sixth and seventh innings.
Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham hit back-to-back home runs for Washington in the sixth inning off Jeff Karstens (1-2), giving the Nats a 4-2 lead. Dunn’s 2-run homer was his 11th, and Willingham’s solo shot was his 11th too.
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