Nationals 9, Indians 4

Stephen Strasburg simply shrugged.

Two starts, two wins, 22 strikeouts and millions of fascinated

fans. One dazzling debut – and a pretty fair encore.

It’s been quite a start for baseball’s newest attraction. But

while America buzzes about him, this Nationals treasure isn’t

buying the hype.

“Just another week, you know?” Strasburg said.


On Sunday, Washington’s pitching powerhouse learned that life on

the road isn’t always smooth. Coming off a 14-strikeout opening

act, Strasburg had more trouble with Cleveland’s mound than Indians

hitters during his second major league start, leading the Nationals

to a 9-4 win.

Strasburg (2-0) allowed just two hits, one a leadoff homer in

the second inning by Travis Hafner, who turned on one of the

right-hander’s 100 mph fastballs. He struck out eight and walked

five before leaving to a chorus of boos in the sixth as Washington

ended Cleveland’s four-game winning streak.

The 21-year-old capped a whirlwind first few days in the majors.

His dominating start against Pittsburgh was followed by an

appearance on “The Late Show with David Letterman.” He has been

the subject of incessant sports talk radio shows, and seems to be

on every TV station.

Strasburgmania is sweeping the land.

He’s tuning it out.

“I’m still watching TV,” he said of the media’s insatiable

interest in him. “I’m just not watching those channels.”

Strasburg was in control from the outset, and appeared destined

to dominate the Indians, who except for Hafner, couldn’t catch up

to his high or low heat through four innings. But Strasburg was

bothered by loose dirt on the mound and twice requested


Following a walk in the sixth, he kicked at the dirt, showing

frustration for the first time as a pro.

“Things like that are part of the game,” he said. “I wish I

could have handled it a little bit better. It kind of got me into a

little funk. But it’s good to experience this now. If it happens

again, I’ll make the right adjustment.”

Strasburg’s teammates are impressed with his temperament and


“He’s amazing,” shortstop Ian Desmond said. “I saw that hole

and it was pretty deep. He handled the adversity pretty well. A lot

of guys would have been very upset. He didn’t like it, but he

handled it like a pro. What amazes me is his composure all the


When he was lifted by manager Jim Riggleman after walking two in

the sixth to load the bases, Strasburg was booed by many of the

same fans who came to see if the phenom was for real. Strasburg

didn’t disappoint, but he didn’t deliver anything as sensational as

his 14-K gem.

Strasburg’s appearance drew 32,876 fans, the second-largest

crowd at Progressive Field this season. On hand was another

pitching prodigy, 91-year-old Hall of Famer Bob Feller, who fanned

15 in his first major league start as a 17-year-old in 1936.

“It’s real refreshing to see anyone with such talent come into

the league,” said Feller, who sat in his usual seat in the press

box. “He’ll have good days and bad, but he’ll have a lot more good

than bad throwing 100 miles per hour. I wish him well.”

Adam Dunn homered off David Huff (2-8), scored three times and

accidentally barreled over Cleveland’s hotshot prospect, catcher

Carlos Santana.

Huff matched Strasburg through five innings, but gave up four

runs in the sixth on Ivan Rodriguez’s two-run double and Desmond’s

two-run triple.

Strasburg came out firing.

His first pitch – a 99 mph fastball to leadoff hitter Trevor

Crowe – stirred the crowd, which reacted to the radar-gun posting

with a collective gasp of excitement. He fanned Crowe and Shin-Soo

Choo, giving him nine consecutive strikeouts over two games.

In the second, Hafner tied it at 1 with a laser shot into the

Nationals’ bullpen.

“With a guy like that, you have to look fastball,” Hafner

said. “He obviously has great stuff. He’s really good.”

Strasburg then retired Austin Kearns on a fly, fanned Russell

Branyan and locked up Jhonny Peralta with an 83 mph changeup.

He ran, well, walked, into trouble in the fourth. After striking

out Choo again, he issued the first two walks of his career.

However, showing poise beyond his years, he responded by getting

Kearns to flail at a low fastball and whiffing Branyan for the

second time.

“He’s amazing,” catcher Rodriguez said, patting Strasburg on

the shoulder. “He’s a great teammate. His patience is tremendous.

He’s going to be fine.”

Before he took the mound in the fifth, Strasburg summoned plate

umpire Brian O’Nora for a look. The right-hander pointed to a rough

spot and three members of the grounds crew added dirt and tamped

the landing area seemingly to the satisfaction of baseball’s new


He gave up his second hit, a broken-bat single to Santana in the

sixth, then stumbled on a delivery to Hafner. He kicked the red

clay in frustration after yielding his fourth walk and asked for

further mound maintenance. As the workers were dispatched,

Strasburg heard his first big league boos.

“When it comes to something like that, you could slip one time

and roll an ankle and be out for a few weeks,” Strasburg said.

“The umpires were concerned about it, and they stepped up and got

it right.”

In the second, Santana learned a valuable lesson in his third

major league game: Don’t take your eyes off Dunn.

Santana was flattened near home plate by the 6-foot-6, 287-pound

first baseman. Santana moved to his left to possibly catch an

overthrow to first when he inadvertently stepped into the path of

Dunn, who hit him so hard he did a backward somersault.

“It was a freak play,” Dunn said. “He wasn’t looking at me

and I wasn’t looking at him.”

NOTES: According to Elias Sports Bureau, only one pitcher since

1900 has had more strikeouts before issuing his first career walk

than Strasburg, who fanned 19 before walking Santana in the fourth.

Cincinnati’s Johnny Cueto struck out 22 before his first walk in