Washington’s Strasburg strikes again in Tribe loss
By TOM WITHERS
— Stephen Strasburg learned life on the road isn’t always
Washington’s rookie sensation had
more trouble with Cleveland’s mound than Indians hitters while lasting 5
1-3 innings during his second major league start, leading the Nationals
to a 9-4 victory Sunday.
Coming off a
14-strikeout debut, Strasburg (2-0) allowed just two hits, one a home
run by Travis Hafner. 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.
Strasburg was in
control from the outset, and appeared destined to dominate the Indians,
who with the exception of Hafner, couldn’t catch up to his 100 mph
fastball through four innings.
21-year-old, who has become baseball’s newest attraction, was bothered
by loose dirt on the mound and twice requested repairs.
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.
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.
refreshing to see anyone with such talent come into the league,” said
Feller, who sat in his usual seat in the press box. “He’s got a good
repertoire. 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.
Strasburg through five innings, but gave up four runs in the sixth on
Ivan Rodriguez’s two-run double and rookie Ian Desmond’s two-run triple.
Desmond and Christian Guzman and three hits apiece for Washington.
Strasburg relaxed before his first road start
by playing a video game in Washington’s clubhouse.
Over in Cleveland’s locker room, several
players watched “Major League,” the 1980s comedy film that depicts a
fictional, fun-loving Indians team winning their division.
The players switched on the TV in time to get
an on-site report about Strasburg.
phenom,” reliever Jensen Lewis shouted. “Here we go.”
Strasburg’s first pitch — a 99 mph fastball
for a strike 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
inning, Hafner turned on a 100-mph heater from Strasburg, hitting a
laser shot into the Nationals’ bullpen in right to tie it at 1.
Strasburg then retired Austin Kearns on a fly
to right, fanned Russell Branyan and locked up Jhonny Peralta with an 83
He ran, well, walked, into
trouble in the fourth. After striking out Choo for the second time, 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 again.
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 area between the rubber and
infield grass seemingly to the satisfaction of baseball’s new star.
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
again asked for mound maintenance. As the workers were dispatched,
Strasburg was the target of big-league boos for the first time.
It was all love early on as Strasburgmania
swept into town.
Hundreds of fans, some
wearing No. 37 replica jerseys and almost all of them toting cameras,
lined the stands down the right-field line as Strasburg walked onto the
field before the game.
Stephen,” one hollered.
He hardly needed
Strasburg played catch in the
outfield before heading to the bullpen, where hundreds more fans peered
over the wall at the 6-foot-4 San Diego native, who immediately began
popping the catcher’s glove. Meanwhile in the Indians’ bullpen, Huff
warmed up to an audience of 10.
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, who couldn’t avoid the collision. Santana moved to his left to
possibly catch an overthrow to first when he inadvertently stepped into
the path of the scoring Dunn.
knocked off his feet and did a backward somersault. Dunn came over to
make sure he was OK. Santana, listed at 190 pounds, was not injured and
seemed more embarrassed than anything as he jogged off the field.
rookie quarterback Colt McCoy visited with players on the field during
pregame batting practice. He’s a friend of Dunn, a star high school
quarterback in Texas who signed and played one season with the Longhorns
before pursuing his baseball career. … 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 2008.
Updated June 13, 2010