9:14: The Nats bullpen and Davey Johnson make a hash of the 3-0 lead and the Dodgers tie the game in the top of the sixth; Strasburg will get a no-decision in his first start of the season. And I will not be live-blogging the end of this game. The Strasburg parts of it were as perfect as you could have hoped.
8:56: Jayson Stark points out that in his 13 big-league starts, Strasburg has yielded 1 run or fewer seven times. He’s also had more strikeouts than hits allowed in 10 of his 13 starts.
8:50: The final count for Strasburg: 17 batters, two more than the minimum. Two hits (a single and a double), no walks and four strikeouts. He threw 56 pitches and 40 strikes, and was still touching 96 in the fifth inning. He also threw first-pitch strikes to 14 of the 17 batters he faced.
8:40: Sellers is up as the potential final batter Strasburg will face. He takes a 95 mph fastball for a strike, hits a pair of foul balls, and then, with the crowd standing and roaring, pops out to Ryan Zimmerman in foul territory. No final strikeout, but another ovation. Davey Johnson shakes Strasburg’s hand as he enters the dugout, and the Nats line up to congratulate the second-year pitcher. His night is done.
8:38: Barajas takes a 96 mph fastball, the 13th of 16 Dodgers batters who have seen a first-pitch strike. Barajas watches a curve for a ball, then grounds out to short.
8:37: Miles is first-pitch swinging again, and flies out to left.
8:36: The Nats didn’t score in the fourth, and Strasburg comes out for the fifth with 12 pitches to play around with, light rain falling, and some activity in the ‘pen.
8:35: Washington Post blogging software crashes!!!!!
8:30: Ramos walks, Strasburg can’t get a bunt down, and he strikes out. That’s 8 strikeouts for the incredible Ted Lilly.
8:25: That’s 48 pitches and 33 strikes for Strasburg. He’s due up second in the bottom of the fourth. And apparently there was a false alarm in the middle of the inning, with Racing Teddy taking a large lead before being foiled by That Cat.
8:24: Andre Ethier: Ball, swinging strike at a change, foul ball, swinging strike. That’s 14 batters, four strikeouts, two hits, and no walks through four innings. The Nats lead, 3-0.
8:23: Juan Rivera becomes the second baserunner with a first-pitch groundball single up the middle. Ian Desmond appeared to have a chance at the ball, but pulled up too quickly.
8:22: First-pitch strike on a brutal two-seam fastball that runs in at Matt Kemp’s knees at 97 mph. Kemp doesn’t like the call. Then a ball, an outside strike, and a swinging flail at a change in the dirt. That low change continues to be just a world-class pitch for Strasburg. (Update: the official play-by-play calls the strikeout pitch a two-seam fastball, though the announcers thought it was the change. Either way, it was unhittable.)
8:19: Strasburg has thrown first-pitch strikes to 9 of the 10 batters he’s faced. James Loney comes up for another go, and takes a ball. Strasburg falls behind 2-0, gets a foul ball, and then retires Loney on a sharply hit drive to right. It’s drizzling at Nats Park. Up to 39 pitches.
8:17: Nats go in order in the third and still lead, 3-0. Strasburg is coming out for a 4th. He still has 25 pitches to play around with.
8:08: Strasburg has thrown 35 pitches and 24 strikes, facing 10 batters, allowing 1 hit, no walks, and striking out two. He’s also gotten 9 straight Dodgers. This is going about as well as possible, except for Lilly’s horrendous pace.
8:07: Dee Gordon is back, and takes a fastball for a strike. Strasburg is still hitting at least 96 on the gun. He gets Gordon to 0-2, throws junk in the dirt, then jams Gordon and fields the ball himself. That’s another 1-2-3 inning. Nats lead, 3-0, going into the bottom of the third.
8:06: Ted Lilly has perhaps the best at-bat of the night against Strasburg, getting in an 0-2 hole, taking two balls and hitting a pair of foul balls before grounding out.
8:03: In contrast to Lilly, Strasburg is breezing. He retires Justin Sellers on a one-pitch at-bat, getting Sellers to fly to center.
7:52: The bottom of the second turns into a big one, as Ian Desmond singles Strasburg to third. The pitcher then scores on a Jayson Werth ground ball to short. Nats lead, 3-0. Desmond advances to second on the Werth grounder, steals third and is stranded there. Lilly has thrown nearly 60 pitches in two innings, and has struck out five batters, but trails by 3.
7:49: Strasburg is at-bat, after back-to-back doubles by Chris Marrero and Wilson Ramos scores a run.Strasburg drops a perfect sacrifice bunt down the third-base line, and Ted Lilly bounces his throw into right field. Ramos scores on the throwing error, and Strasburg dons a jacket at second base. Nats lead, 2-0.
7:41: Rod Barajas takes three straight balls, then a 97 mph fastball down the heart of the plate. He flies the fifth pitch harmlessly to center. That’s 12 pitches, 8 strikes, 4 balls, no baserunners. For the game, Strasburg has 23 pitches and 15 strikes through seven batters. Not bad. The change-up to Ethier was the pitch to remember thus far.
7:39: Aaron Miles is first-pitch swinging, too, and hits yet another foul ball. Then comes another foul ball, and a 99 mph 0-2 inside fastball that completely befuddled Miles . “Good old-fashioned country hardball,” according to one of Santangelo’s favorite phrases.
7:37: Andre Ethier is first-pitch swinging too, and hits another foul ball. Then comes a strike looking, a 97 mph ball inside, and something filthy in the dirt that Ethier only flailed at. F.P. Santangelo called it a 90 mph change that was as dirty as he’s ever seen. It’s Strasburg’s first Major League strikeout of 2011.
7:35: The Nats load the bases on two walks sandwiched around a Ryan Zimmerman infield hit, but Danny Espinosa strikes out looking, his fifth straight K. Press box wags say that Lilly was taking up to 30 seconds between pitches. Also, that you could grow an actual lily more quickly than it took to throw his 32 pitches. End of 1, tied at 0.
7:28: Dodgers starter Ted Lilly is pitching “deliberately,” to use one word. And a pair of baserunners are making things go even more deliberately. Now, if you’re a Nats fan, you certainly want baserunners. But if you’re interested in a full helping of Strasburg, this pace won’t help beat the weather.
7:22: From Luke Russert at the park: “The Dodgers entire bullpen watched Strasburg from the dugout. Then walked out to pen. That's respect/curiosity.”
7:15: Juan Rivera becomes the first batter to take a first pitch from Strasburg, a nasty fastball on the outside corner. Then comes a ball, and a breaking ball that’s lined out to right. Strasburg leaves to yet another standing ovation, his third of the night at least. The first inning report: 4 batters, 11 pitches, 7 strikes, 1 LOB.
7:14: Matt Kemp becomes the third straight batter to swing at the first pitch. Then came a hard curve that was outside, and another curve hit softly on the ground to shortstop. Nice play by Ian Desmond gets Kemp by a step or two.
7:13: James Loney hits a lazy fly to center on the first pitch.
7:12: Gordon goes foul ball, 96 mph ball, 96 mph ball, leadoff double on a softly hit ball into left center. That’s four pitches, and the no-hitter is gone.
7:11: Game-time temp is 67, with wind. Home plate ump is James Hoye. First batter is Dee Gordon. Lots of empty seats. And the first pitch is fouled off.
7:10: MASN’s Bob Carpenter says we don’t have a full house, but that it sounds like one tonight.
7:09: Brad Peacock fans are no doubt disappointed, but we should still see him later. And at 7:09, Strasburg takes the mound, to another ovation. This is his 13th MLB start.
7:07: Stephen Strasburg is shown walking to the Nats dugout to a standing ovation from the still-arriving crowd. He is not wearing the Maryland flag on his jersey. He walks through the dugout, slapping some fives and sipping some drinks.
7:02: Bob Carpenter reports that Strasburg is not wearing sleeves. Also, that there will be a great deal of drama when the team comes out of the dugout. Also, that armchair doctors and GMs need to be quiet, because this night is for Strasburg.
6:58: Debbie Taylor reports that Livan Hernandez and Jordan Zimmermann are excited. Exciting! Taylor also says that Livo thought Strasburg would have won 18 or 19 games had he been healthy this year.
6:55: Against all odds, it appears for now that Stephen Strasburg will actually make his return Tuesday night against the Dodgers at Nats Park. My plan is to live blog the proceedings. Any sprinkle or drizzle or mild spitting from the sky could end proceedings early and send me to the neighborhood pizza shop. Stay tuned.