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Strasburg Throws A No-Hitter

OK, we're going with a verbal play-by-play for the top of the ninth inning here at Tony Gwynn Stadium. To heck with the chance for a jinx; maybe Stephen Strasburg can dismiss that same as he's dismissed all those Air Force batters tonight.

Strasburg has never thrown a no-hitter in his college career.

But through eight innings, he's working on one. He's struck out 14 -- including every opposing batter at least once. In only one inning has he failed to get at least one strikeout.

A record crowd (3,337) is on hand for Strasburg's final home start. By now, the sun has set, creating a very cool visual marriage between the black outfield backdrop and the 6-foot-5 presence on the mound -- shrouded in an all-black uniform, but for razor-straight red brim of his cap.

8:06 p.m. -- Strasburg walks to the mound. Receives a standing ovation. Most of the fans settle back in their seats, but Rizzo (holding a cup of coffee) remains standing against a railing until the righty completes his warm-up pitches.

8:07 p.m. -- I don't even notice radar guns pointing at Strasburg any longer. Maybe the scouts have seen enough. His second pitch this inning, a fastball, looked as strong as anything he's thrown all game, though.

8:09 p.m. -- The first batter of the inning, Blair Roberts, goes down swinging on a 2-2 fastball. That's strikeout No. 15.

8:10 p.m. -- Next hitter is outfielder Tytus Moss, a big guy, an outfielder. Swing and a miss, swing and a miss, swing and a miss. We're one out away.

8:11 p.m. -- Everybody is standing. Everybody. Ohhs and ahhs after every pitch. Strasburg goes 1-1 on No. 5, outfielder Nathan Carter. Then 1-2. Clapping... For strike 3, he freezes Carter with an absurd slider. Strasburg pumps his fist, takes about two steps off the mound, and spikes his black mitt to the ground. All at once, his catcher bull-rushes him, and just as Strasburg is getting carried into the air, every one of his teammates turns the middle of the field into a mob.

Not bad for a last home start.

By Chico Harlan  |  May 8, 2009; 11:14 PM ET
 
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Comments

Chub rock is in the house!!

Strasburg, Zimmermann, Martis, Lannan, lets get it!

Posted by: Imjustlikemusiq | May 8, 2009 11:18 PM | Report abuse

They couldn't possibly pass on him now.

+1/2St.

Posted by: kevincostello | May 8, 2009 11:18 PM | Report abuse

Glad I got to watch the video feed!!! Still on the Post Game!

http://goaztecs.cstv.com/library/live-baseball.html

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | May 8, 2009 11:19 PM | Report abuse

Don't like going to the pen so early, but lets see if they can come up big for us tonight. Make something happen Mock, let's get Martis to 4-0.

Posted by: Imjustlikemusiq | May 8, 2009 11:25 PM | Report abuse

I'm told SDSU has beaten Air Force 26 times, so it's not like he no hit USC here.

Just saying.

Posted by: Sam675309 | May 8, 2009 11:26 PM | Report abuse

Just go ahead and pay him every cent of what the Lerners get from the MASN deal. I don't care if he busts, you have to take him.

Posted by: Kev29 | May 8, 2009 11:31 PM | Report abuse

His stats now:
11-0, 1.24, 87 IP, 164 K, 17 BB. He's given up three extra-base hits all season.

65 runners allowed in 87 innings.

wowzers.

Posted by: rushfari | May 8, 2009 11:32 PM | Report abuse

Pay the man, Shirley (but NOT the $1.25).

Posted by: Juan-John | May 8, 2009 11:37 PM | Report abuse

Did I hear Carpenter say the Wookie reliever has a 9 ERA?

Posted by: Juan-John | May 8, 2009 11:38 PM | Report abuse

Yep - subtle little dig on Rausch's performance so far. I like it

Posted by: Kev29 | May 8, 2009 11:42 PM | Report abuse

Damn it Dunnkey! I know he wants that AB back

Posted by: Kev29 | May 8, 2009 11:44 PM | Report abuse

C'mon, Elijah, relax...

Posted by: Juan-John | May 8, 2009 11:44 PM | Report abuse

Dang it,

Maybe Eckstein can teach Dukes patience...

Posted by: Juan-John | May 8, 2009 11:46 PM | Report abuse

Why do I have a feeling that missed opportunity is going to come back to haunt them? Oh yeah, because Im a Nats fan

Posted by: Kev29 | May 8, 2009 11:48 PM | Report abuse

Okay, here's one more thing about the Aflac trivia tonight.

What Bob and Ray didn't mention was that not only did Zoilo Versalles lead the AL in strike outs and errors in 1965, but he was also the AL MVP that year for the Twins.

Posted by: twinbrook | May 8, 2009 11:56 PM | Report abuse

Who pitches next? Top 8, need some runs!!!!

Go Nats! Win baby!

Posted by: sec218 | May 8, 2009 11:57 PM | Report abuse

Is it bad when the relievers only give up 1 run per inning, I breathe a sigh of relief?

Posted by: nervousnatsfan | May 8, 2009 11:57 PM | Report abuse

I hate to be a cynic but after yesterday (Manny's positive test) I'm not sure I believe anything I read (or see).

Strasburg went from being a pudgy pitcher with a 90 mph fastball who was undrafted, to a dominant pitcher with a 98 mph fastball and now he's the #1 prospect of all time.

Meanwhile he's represented by Boras. If you take Bos's advice and do an Internet search, you will note a rather large number of Boras clients have been caught cheating.

I hate to say it but I wouldn't be surprised if our boy Strasburg is just another cheat. It's a shame but I'm at the stage where I'm not sure anyone is clean anymore.

Posted by: grforbes | May 9, 2009 12:10 AM | Report abuse

Jesus! Don't let them f with you like that - good throw!

BTW, game is now on MASN HD

Posted by: Kev29 | May 9, 2009 12:14 AM | Report abuse

FLORES! ...from his knees even! Sweet!

Posted by: Naugatuck-Nats | May 9, 2009 12:15 AM | Report abuse

Thank you, Mr. Byrnes. Thank you, thank you thank you for trying to steal third... :-)

Posted by: Juan-John | May 9, 2009 12:16 AM | Report abuse

i wish MASN HD was more of an upgrade. like the no carpenter, no knight channel or something.

Posted by: tengoalyrunr30 | May 9, 2009 12:16 AM | Report abuse

I say let the Chief close this baby out. He's in the house.

Posted by: Section314 | May 9, 2009 12:18 AM | Report abuse

The line of the night -- from Charlie Slowes (typically deadpan). Dave is talking about how Rizzo would normally be in AZ, but made a detour to watch Strasburg...and how Strasburg pitched in front of a record crwd for Tony Gwynn Stadium...

Charlie chimes in: "Cha-ching".

Strasburg's performance reminds me of something some years ago. I root for the Milwaukee Bucks (long, boring story) -- and they held the first pick in the NBA draft. They used it to select Glenn "Big Dog" Robinson. Not a bad player and probably the most gifted player that year in college. The thing is, when it mattered, with the game on the line in the NCAA tournament, he missed the shot. Reminded me of another player who was drafted in the first round of the NFL draft, even though he dropped a would-be touchdown pass in the biggest game of the year.

For me, you don't use such a prized pick to take a guy who blew it in the most pressure-filled situation he faced in college. I don't care what his stats were, or how dominating he was against overmatched competition during the regular season. You want the guy who makes the big play, in the big game. That's what set apart the Kirk Gibsons and Michael Jordans. Not just the MVP stats. They came through in the clutch.

Tonight, with gobs of pressure, Strasburg came through with his best game yet.

Pay the man. If you don't want to pay him $50 million outright, then throw in some incentives that will make the contract potentially earth-shattering, but only if Strasburg delivers.

Posted by: fischy | May 9, 2009 12:20 AM | Report abuse

Nice Darrell Green Skins jersey spotted in the crowd.

Posted by: Kev29 | May 9, 2009 12:20 AM | Report abuse

Add one of two more Adam!

Posted by: sec218 | May 9, 2009 12:21 AM | Report abuse

This home plate ump better buy us dinner before f-ing us this badly next time

Posted by: Kev29 | May 9, 2009 12:23 AM | Report abuse

Kip Wells stinks... I don't like this one bit. At any rate, lets hope he gets it done.

Posted by: Imjustlikemusiq | May 9, 2009 12:25 AM | Report abuse

Come on bullpen. I know you can do it...wait, who I am kidding?

Posted by: janus4444 | May 9, 2009 12:28 AM | Report abuse

Way to go Kippy! One more, prove me wrong baby...

Posted by: Imjustlikemusiq | May 9, 2009 12:30 AM | Report abuse

One more baby.

Posted by: patchss | May 9, 2009 12:30 AM | Report abuse

GOT HIM WITH A HEATER! Curly W

Posted by: Imjustlikemusiq | May 9, 2009 12:32 AM | Report abuse

YES!

Really like that win! Shairon, 4-0. Bullpen showed a little steel.

Posted by: Kev29 | May 9, 2009 12:33 AM | Report abuse

Bang, zoom, put a curly W in the books!
It's a road winning streak.

Posted by: patchss | May 9, 2009 12:33 AM | Report abuse

Wells was throwing gas... very impressed.

Posted by: Imjustlikemusiq | May 9, 2009 12:33 AM | Report abuse

Yea baby!!! Nats win!!!

Posted by: sec218 | May 9, 2009 12:33 AM | Report abuse

Last 4.5 innings: 1 beer drunk.

Last .5 inning: 1 beer CHUGGED.

Phew!

Posted by: Juan-John | May 9, 2009 12:34 AM | Report abuse

Kip Wells looked very impressive with several pitches hitting 95 mph. He started 3-0 on the first batter but got back to 3-2 before getting him to fly out to right.

I say make Wells the closer and call it good.

Posted by: rushfari | May 9, 2009 12:38 AM | Report abuse

Nats 4-2 in May, not bad. 4 out of the last 5.

Posted by: Kev29 | May 9, 2009 12:39 AM | Report abuse

Another good nights sleep in my future...zzzzzzzzz.

Posted by: cokedispatch | May 9, 2009 12:50 AM | Report abuse

This team can drive you crazy we've got to do a better job of cashing in on our oppourtunities, Martis is going to be a consistent winner for this team. He has an excellent pace while on the mound and he throws strikes, worst called game by an umpire so far this year. So no Dibble tonight, Ray Knight is a know-it-all ok Ray we know you're the smartest guy in the booth Dibble makes it fun while getting his point across,we need to sweep these guys and the D-Backs new skipper looks like he just graduated from college, well as Jackie Robinson would say "Let's Go!

Posted by: dargregmag | May 9, 2009 1:02 AM | Report abuse

Aztecs Radio Announcer Chris Ello, caught up with Aztecs Pitcher Stephen Strasburg immediately following his No-Hit, 17 strike out performance tonight against the Air Force Academy, as the Aztecs win 5-0. Check this out @ www.619sports.net

Posted by: sportsindex1 | May 9, 2009 1:26 AM | Report abuse

Let's hope the hints of the recession having bottomed out prove accurate, so the Lerners will have no hesitation. He's doesn't need to be a HOFer, Boz, just as good as Gooden was will do just fine.

And BTW, Versalles has to be the worst MVP ever, but he did play for the Griffith Nats.

Posted by: nats24 | May 9, 2009 2:17 AM | Report abuse

I hate that I think this too.

"I hate to say it but I wouldn't be surprised if our boy Strasburg is just another cheat. It's a shame but I'm at the stage where I'm not sure anyone is clean anymore."

Posted by: grforbes | May 9, 2009 12:10 AM

Posted by: NatsNut | May 9, 2009 2:22 AM | Report abuse

Manny said this when talking about Melvin's firing: "Unfortunately in our business, there are only five guys who can pick and choose where they go and how long they can stay."

Which 5 is he talking about? Torre, Piniella, Bobby Cox, LaRussa...?

Posted by: NatsNut | May 9, 2009 3:51 AM | Report abuse

Strasburg is the messiah. If he is what he's been billed to be, this team contends in 3 years. I am so down on the team right now but with him and a heavy bullpen investment it will just take a small amount of growth from the rotation to become a threat.

Posted by: mjsciann1 | May 9, 2009 4:25 AM | Report abuse

Is this Strasburg kid channeling Koufax?

It would be impossible not to draft him at this point... especially so since the Nats are proving to be a very good hitting team... A truly live arm would be the most welcome addition at this point.

Posted by: khrabb | May 9, 2009 5:38 AM | Report abuse

Nice piece, Chico!

Was fun to wake up to another win and read the Nats game thread after the fact. I went to bed after "Babe" Martis was pulled from the game (and after Carpy did his "no-hitter, no-hitter, no-hitter" thing). Good one, 314, about having Chief close the game. He's a good kid. Was nice to see him and Burger King in the crowd.

gforbes and NatsNut, unfortunately, that possibility has occurred to me as well but I didn't want to voice it.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 9, 2009 6:11 AM | Report abuse

Unfortunately in this day and age how can a bad thought or two not cross your mind? The story of an out of shape freshman working hard and a year and a half later bursting onto the scene holds water. I hope he's clean and I hope he's ours.

Let's play two!

Posted by: SlowPitch63 | May 9, 2009 8:06 AM | Report abuse

I have no opinion on whether Strasburg is juicing but I agree that the physical transformation raises some concerns (less than it would, however, later in life -- at his age, it's less remarkable).

But it does mean that the Lerners will have a HUGE financial risk. What assurances can they get before signing on the dotted line?

What drug testing, if any, is done in the NCAA? What give-back or forfeiture clauses can the Nats expect to get in the contract if it turns out that without a little "something extra" Strasburg isnt even Ross Detwiler let alone the next coming of Walter Johnson?

Posted by: Meridian1 | May 9, 2009 8:22 AM | Report abuse

If you're really interested in the NCAA drug testing policies see here, it's more stringent than MLB's.

http://www.ncaa.org/wps/ncaa?ContentID=282

I bet there are tons of Mariners and Padres fans hoping this kind of talk continues.

Posted by: RicketyCricket | May 9, 2009 8:57 AM | Report abuse

"Manny said this when talking about Melvin's firing: "Unfortunately in our business, there are only five guys who can pick and choose where they go and how long they can stay."

Which 5 is he talking about? Torre, Piniella, Bobby Cox, LaRussa...?"

Jim Leyland would be the fifth.

Posted by: patchss | May 9, 2009 10:05 AM | Report abuse

So cool. The opening on Sports Center on ESPN was "Strasburg-Coming to a Major League Stadium Near You!"

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | May 9, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

To any naysayers out there, I'd say the future looks bright. May the Strasburg be with us.

Posted by: cokedispatch | May 9, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Nats are playing well, I think things have settled down a bit and they are finding their way. Rizzo getting vets for the pen is a solid move. The kids were clearly not ready or in some cases never will be.

I think at least a 4-4 west coast swing would give them momentum going forward.

Man, I hope Strasburg is the real deal and we draft and sign him. This franshise needs the shot in the arm he could provide.

Posted by: Section505203 | May 9, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

I'm not a naysayer. I think the Nats should draft Strasburg and make every effort to sign him

It's just that in this day and age, you'd have to be pretty naive not to want to protect yourself against the possibility that he's juicing.

Remember that the Nats were already burned by a hot prospect who turned out to be something else than what they thought. It cost them some money, set back their Dominican operation, and significantly devalued what had been an important prospect.

Much more will be on the line with Strasburg, and the team would be crazy not to want some insurance.

Believe me, like life insurance, I really hope it isn't needed. A rotation of Strasburg, Lannan, Zimmermann and Martis, together with this much more potent offense, means that the time is just one reliever away from serious contention.

Meanwhile, 4 out of 5 is feeling pretty good.

Tomorrow, for the first time since baseball returned to Washington, I'm going to Camden Yards. Taking the opportunity to root against the Yankees is the only way I can rationalize it.

Posted by: Meridian1 | May 9, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

>They couldn't possibly pass on him now.

+1/2St.

Just wait until they teach him a changeup like Martis has. He'll be x-rated.

Posted by: Brue | May 9, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

>I have no opinion on whether Strasburg is juicing but I agree that the physical transformation raises some concerns (less than it would, however, later in life -- at his age, it's less remarkable).

He went from an out of shape kid with no guidance or discipline to a man three years later who's in shape, and has a HOF as a manager. He doesn't need to juice, he already throws around 100. It's rare that a pitcher juices, because you get too tight to retain any fluidity with your delivery. Batters don't care about striking out if their swing is messed up because of roids, as long as they make contact and it goes out of the park. And even if he was taking something, it wouldn't help his control, and more than likely wouldn't affect the speed on his pitches anyway. He doesn't need to take them to heal because he only pitches once a week anyway. If any pitchers juice, it's usually relievers, because they have to heal quicker than starters because they're always being run out there. Saying Strasburg is a risk is like turning down the lottery because you were unhappy with the dollar amount.

Posted by: Brue | May 9, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Strasburg was also subject to drug tests by the IOC when he pitched last year.

There is no 100% certainty but passing the NCAA and IOC drug tests counts for something.

Posted by: Brian_ | May 9, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

"It's rare that a pitcher juices, because you get too tight to retain any fluidity with your delivery."

See also, Clemens, Petitte, Gagne....

Posted by: NatsNut | May 9, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Brue - I'm more with you on this than the others. Lets face it - at that age, bodies change. Often, nonathletes will pack on extra weight when they go to school, but for athletes, a lot of the time it is the first time they get serious about training and realizing the effort needed to play professionally. If this were the NBA, and this were a high school / freshman hardship case, would we be surprised if it took a few years to get into good enough shape to realize your potential (hello Kendrick Perkins). As has been pointed out, the NCAA has a serious drug checking program because the players have much less leverage than MLB. I'm not saying kid is not using the most sophisticated drug masking protocol that the best testing labs have not yet caught onto, or that vials of HGH aren't sitting in a safe deposit box in Tiajuana where he travels incognito under the protection of a drug lord to whom he will give 40% of his earnings, but at some point, you go with what you know. The best insurance against Strasburg juicing is hoping Alez White falls to #10.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | May 9, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

>"It's rare that a pitcher juices, because you get too tight to retain any fluidity with your delivery."

See also, Clemens, Petitte, Gagne....

Out of how many thousands of pitchers that never got busted? Many more hitters than pitchers juicing - you can look it up if you don't believe me.

Let me get this straight - you think Strasburg is juicing (and a big risk), and you think that Acta's a good manager. Oh dear, some people...

Posted by: Brue | May 9, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and as for the 5 managers who can name where they manage and how long, Hank Steinbrenner says scratch on name off that list.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | May 9, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

>jca-CrystalCity

Yeah, he could have some sophisticated stash in Tijuana or whatever, I'm not saying it's impossible, but I think it's disingenous for people to assume it's steroids that's responsible for what he's doing. Phil Wood was just talking about the knee-buckling breaking stuff he saw from Strasburg last night. You can't get that out of a bottle. When Clemens got popped, he was much older, and had lost all of his breaking stuff by then, and needed more stamina because he relied on his fastball more often. Besides, if Gwynn found out he was juicing, he'd have his head. It's not like they have Joe college coach who only cares about the record, Gwynn's a pro and he looks out for his players because he sees the big picture. It's not a crime to have great stuff. Apparently some people think it is.

Posted by: Brue | May 9, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Brue, and you think Manny Acta calls pitches? Oh dear...

Posted by: NatsNut | May 9, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

And anyway, I don't feel quite as strongly as actually thinking he's juicing. All I really meant was that my mind goes there first when any baseball player seems extraordinary. How can it not?

It sucks. I don't want my mind to go there.

Posted by: NatsNut | May 9, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Thanks to Rickety Cricket, Brian, and jca for the info on testing. That's reassuring. And I don't think that disingenuous is the word you were looking for, Brue. That word might apply to ManRam's explanation of his PED use, but not to a fan who voices concerns about juicing.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 9, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Exactly, NatsNut. That's my feeling as well.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 9, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

>And anyway, I don't feel quite as strongly as actually thinking he's juicing. All I really meant was that my mind goes there first when any baseball player seems extraordinary. How can it not?

It sucks. I don't want my mind to go there.

It's a mindset, usually comes from whatever age you are. Nobody paid attention to steroids over the years because they weren't testing for it, nobody paid attention to players taking speed because they'd been taking it for 150 years since it was synthesized in a lab, people didn't pay attention to players abusing alcohol because it wasn't tested randomly. Doc Ellis threw a no-hitter on LSD. If you were brought up on the steroids thing, then that's where your mind goes. Should they erase the records from the last 100 years because the guys were popping bennies to get up for the game, and they can't do that any more because they're testing for it? If you can't draw the line in your head, you will always be drawn back to 'cheating'. Cheating is an abstract in pro sports. An emery board for the pitchers, vaseline on the brim of the hat, it goes on and on. The fact that balls weren't rubbed down with mud before every game until a few decades ago, which gave the advantage to the pitcher. The fact that they elevated the lowered the mound ten inches after the '68 season. Maple bats might even be considered cheating, since they weren't available in the past and guys would have to swing a bat that wasn't necessarily sculpted the way they wanted it, or an ounce or two heavier because it was ash. There's no black and white in my mind when it comes to cheating, because the form of 'cheating' is so varied, and has gone on for 150 years. Steroids don't bother me in the least. If these guys want to end up like Canseco, that's their problem. The game is too difficult to focus on the small percentage of guys looking for an advantage.
If you're stuck on what's 'real' in life - nothing is when you peel back the layers.

Posted by: Brue | May 9, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

re: lowered the mound ten inches after '68 - because there was only one hitter over .300 that year. You can blame MLB for cheating on that one.

Posted by: Brue | May 9, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Real Baseball Intelligence (RBI), a leading resource in the evaluation of amateur baseball talent and draft coverage, has ranked Stephen Strasburg the #1 prospect in the 2009 MLB Draft. View his free scouting report (with video) at withthefirstpick.net/stephen-strasburg

Posted by: bhyman1 | May 9, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

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