After the rain, Strasburg is overpowering in home debut for Harrisburg

Stephen Strasburg's Harrisburg Senators' home debut was cut short by rain, but in just 2 1/3 innings, he struck out three while allowing only two hits.
By Dave Sheinin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 17, 2010

HARRISBURG, PA. -- After the 130-minute rain delay at the outset and the additional 21-minute delay caused by a power surge -- but before the second, 65-minute rain delay that sent the bulk of the sellout crowd at Metro Bank Park to the parking lots -- Stephen Strasburg fulfilled his end of the deal on one of the most highly anticipated nights in the history of the Harrisburg Senators.

Making his home debut for the Washington Nationals' Class AA affiliate, Strasburg waited out the lengthy pregame delay, then tossed 2 1/3 overpowering innings against the New Britain Rock Cats before the second rain delay ended his night.

Wielding his usual assortment of dazzling pitches, highlighted by a fastball that consistently reached 98 mph, Strasburg, 21, allowed only two hits, no walks and one unearned run, while striking out three batters. He threw 32 pitches, 23 of them for strikes -- well short of the 85 to 90 pitches he was scheduled to throw.

He had a 1-0 count on his 10th batter of the night when the skies opened up again and the umpires waved the teams off the field. With several Nationals officials on hand, including principal owner Mark Lerner, farm director Doug Harris and minor league pitching coordinator Spin Williams, there was little chance of Strasburg remaining in the game when it resumed.

"He's done," Harris said. "Once he cooled down [during the second rain delay], that was it."

Strasburg showed better command than he did in his minor league debut five days earlier in Altoona, Pa., throwing first-pitch strikes to six of the nine batters who completed plate appearances against him, and reaching a three-ball count only once.

His only trouble came in the second, when, with two outs, Joe Benson reached on an infield single, went to second on a bad throw by Senators third baseman Adam Fox, then scored when Juan Portes lined an 0-2 fastball into left field for an RBI double -- the only hard-hit ball off Strasburg all night.

Through two starts, Strasburg, the No. 1 overall pick in the June 2009 draft, has a 1.23 ERA, with six hits and two walks allowed in 7 1/3 innings, and 11 strikeouts. His next start is scheduled for Wednesday at Harrisburg against the Reading Phillies.

© 2010 The Washington Post Company