If you really want to nitpick, Strasburg's last start in Cleveland was less than stellar. He walked five (5) batters, people! He still struck out 7 and gave up only one earned in 5.1 innings. His return to the friendly confines of Nationals Park would go much better than his Cleveland trip. Even President Obama made it out to watch him pitch because, you know, there's not too much going on right now.
When I previewed this game earlier, I was pretty stunned to learn the White Sox had struck out the fewest times as a team in MLB. But strange things happen when a 21-year-old kid takes the mound and throws a 100 MPH fastball and a 91 MPH change up. Strasburg gave up a swinging bunt, infield single to Juan Pierre and a bloop single to Omar Vizquel to open the game. Then he retired 15 straight while striking out 9. He didn't get a decision but a 7.0 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 10 K stat line is pretty solid world domination. Let's take a look at those K's in tonight's strikeout rewind.
Strasburg struck out Paul Konerko swinging. Get used to the word "swinging." You might see it a couple more times.
Strasburg struck out Carlos Quentin swinging. See, I wasn't kidding.
Strasburg struck out Gordon Beckham swinging. Tonight won't be the night Beckham breaks out of his slump.
Strasburg struck out Gavin Floyd looking. The reason Floyd struck out looking is because he was about 5 feet away from the plate. If he did swing, the ump didn't see it.
Strasburg struck out Juan Pierre swinging. 3 pitches.
Strasburg struck out Alex Rios swinging. 3 pitches.
Strasburg struck out Quentin swinging again.
Strasburg struck out Alexie Ramirez swinging. Who didn't see that coming?
Strasburg struck out Beckham swinging again.
No strikeouts this inning but I thought it was funny that Gavin Floyd would be the one to break up Strasburg's streak of 15 straight retired batters. An AL pitcher, sure, why not?
Strasburg struck out Ramirez swinging again. 3 pitches.
Strasburg threw an efficient 85 pitches, 59 for strikes, over 7 innings. He also now owns the record for most strikeouts (32) for a pitcher in his first 3 games. Let's recap.
Strasburg's first 3 starts: 19.1 IP, 2-0, 1.86 ERA, 32 strikeouts, 5 walks.
For comparison, Mark Prior's first 3 starts: 15.2 IP, 1-2, 5.74 ERA, 22 strikeouts, 7 walks.
How about another one? Dwight Gooden's first 3 starts: 13.1 IP, 1-1, 4.73 ERA, 16 strikeouts, 9 walks.
This next one is pretty crazy, ready? Nineteen-year-old Felix Hernandez's first 3 starts: 21 IP, 2-1, 0.86 ERA, 21 strikeouts, 3 walks. Yikes.
I could do this all night. Damn you, Baseball-Reference. My point, I think, is that we're entering into one of those special breakout seasons that only come along every so often. So take off work on days that Strasburg pitches (I suggest calling in with the plague, do you know how contagious that is?). If he's coming to your city, get your tickets now. But most importantly, read all of my Strasburg posts.