8:09 p.m.: Strasburg’s night is over. Afterward, Rizzo said, “The stuff is there. The arm is healthy. That’s all we care about.”
7:59 p.m.: Strasburg’s night is probably over after just three innings. He finished with two hits, two runs, one earned, one walk, one hit batter and six strikeouts. His fastest pitch topped off at 99 mph and he threw 46 fastballs, mostly within the 94-96 mph range for most of the night. Hickory was only able to produce two hard hit balls -- a first-inning single and liner to left field that became an out. Otherwise, Strasburg coerced the Crawdads into swinging and missing on 11 of his 60 pitches.
Strasburg was supposed to throw four innings or 65 pitches, whichever came first. He threw 23 balls and 37 strikes and got Alejandro Selen to strike out swinging on his final pitch. Strasburg surrendered one unearned run in the inning, with Crawdads second baseman Odubel Herrera scoring on a throwing error by shortstop Jason Martinson on what should’ve been the third out. Jake Skole hit a routine grounder to Martinson, but he threw the ball high and out of the reach of Hagerstown first baseman Mills Rogers. Strasburg wasn’t rattled by the play, as he went right back to mowing down Selen.
Strasburg’s second pitch of the third inning signaled that he become more settled in. He threw a wicked curveball that dipped so hard that Profar, a left-handed hitter, had to hop back thinking that it would hit him. Since Strasburg hit him earlier in the game, it was understandable that he’d be on the lookout, but the pitch was right down the middle for a strike. Profar later struck out looking on a hard sinker right at the knees.
Herrera got on with a weak infield single to short, but Strasburg quickly came back to get Christain Villanueva to ground out to short. He threw 22 pitches in the inning.
7:45 p.m.: Strasburg looked more comfortable in the second inning, as he got through the seven, eight and nine hitters in just 11 pitches. Right fielder Josh Richmond was ready to swing before he came from the batters box and flied out to left on Strasburg’s first offering.
Strasburg then got his changeup working, making left-handed hitting catcher Kellin Deglan look silly on his second pitch to him. Deglan later struck out looking on a fastball on the outside of the right part of the plate. Strasburg got left fielder Jonathan Roof to chase a curveball to end the inning.
7:35 p.m.: Strasburg gave up one run, one hit, struck out two, walked one batter, hit another, and needed 27 pitches to get through the first inning. He had his fastball clocked between 94 and 99 mph in the first inning, but his mechanics appeared to be somewhat rusty as he struggled to get anything other than his fastball over the plate for strikes. He didn’t seem to have any trouble with his velocity but his command was a problem, which was apparent from the beginning as he tried to throw a curve ball down and in to leadoff batter Jurickson Profar and hit him in the right knee.
He bounced back to get Odubel Herrera out to whiff on a fastball, but Profar advanced to second on a stolen base during the at-bat. He gave up a single right between his legs to Tomas Telis that plated Profar. The hit came after Strasburg appeared to get Telis to strike out on a check swing. Harrisburg catcher David Freitas complained to home plate umpire Aaron Reynolds that it wasn’t close. Telis singled on the next pitch.
He then walked Christian Villanueva before getting Jake Skole to strike out and Alejandro Selen to groundout to second. He recovered, but the Hickory Crawfords had three stolen bases in the first inning, which may have been the fault of the catcher or Strasburg wasn’t paying attention.
ORIGINAL POST: Stephen Strasburg is back at Municipal Stadium with Class A Hagerstown hoping to bounce back from a miserable outing last week in which he gave up five runs in 1 2/3 innings and had his ERA (16.20) looking more like the scoring average of Wizards point guard John Wall (16.4).
Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo and owner Mark Lerner are in attendance to watch Strasburg as he makes his fourth minor league rehabilitation start. Dozens of fans, dressed in Nationals Strasburg jerseys, have already entered the stadium, but this game against the Hickory Crawdads is not expected to be a sellout. Rizzo said on Sunday that Strasburg would be limited to four innings or 65 pitches, whichever comes first.
Strasburg might have more than just his last start on his mind, because he is nearly a year removed from his last major pitch, a change-up to Philadelphia Phillies right fielder Domonic Brown that forced him to leave the game and eventually have Tommy John surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his right arm.
Strasburg appeared to be back to his dominating ways in his first two starts but had a disappointing outing last Wednesday, with the trouble beginning when he walked the first batter he faced. He threw 33 pitches in the first inning, needing 25 to record his first out against the Lexington Legends.
If you haven’t noticed, The Post sent the basketball writer to follow Strasburg on the next step in his journey back to the majors. I’ll try to make sure not to confuse the lingo as I live-blog through the proceedings. I realize that the fouls here are little different than the ones in the NBA.
I haven’t covered a baseball game in several years, and despite my many trips to Turner Field for Braves games back when I worked in Atlanta, I have never been to a minor league game before. So, let’s have some fun.