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Strasburg live-blog: Welcome to Harrisburg, kid

We're settling in for a long night at newly refurbished Metro Bank Park in Harrisburg, where Stephen Strasburg is set to make his home debut for the Senators against the New Britain Rock Cats. The tarp is currently on the infield, and it's raining steadily, but I'm told the front is expected to pass through before too long, so we will have baseball tonight. The timing of the rain could have been worse -- if Strasburg had warmed up and started the game, and then the rain came, he would have been shut down for the night, regardless of how few pitches he had thrown. As things stand, he is on roughly the same pitch-count he was Sunday in Altoona: 85-90 pitches.

They're expecting an overflow crowd here, with several thousand standing-room-only tickets having been sold for the new boardwalk areas beyond the outfield fence. In the crowd tonight: Nationals principal owner Mark Lerner.

Before the game, Senators Manager Randy Knorr described Strasburg as "a different person" this time around, now that the pressure and hype of his professional debut has worn off. "I think he's glad the first one is over with, and now he's ready to go," Knorr said. "He was so amped up for that start, and he's much more relaxed now. I think you'll see a different pitcher tonight."

The Senators are 2-6, but snapped a three-game losing streak Thursday night in the series opener against New Britain (a Twins affiliate). Shortstop Danny Espinosa, a top Nationals prospect, remains on the disabled list with a strained hamstring, and probably won't be activated until after the weekend.

This is a beautiful ballpark, by the way, situated on Harrisburg's City Island, in the middle of the Susquehanna River. If you're free next Wednesday, the 21st, Strasburg is scheduled to start the Senators' game that day against the Reading Phillies at 10:30 a.m.

I'll let you know when I hear something about a start time, and will provide some updates here throughout Strasburg's start.

[UPDATE, 8:50 p.m. The tarp is off, the Phenom is warming in the bullpen, and we'll be underway around 9:15 p.m.]

[UPDATE, 9:20 p.m. Um, now the stadium lights are out, and there is no word on when they will be back on. At around 9:05 p.m., a power surge knocked out the power to the entire stadium, and while the power has been restored, apparently the lights must be allowed to cool down before they can be turned back on. The field is completely dark. I think Strasburg is down there somewhere, but I honestly don't know for sure. You can't make this stuff up, folks.]

[9:28 p.m. The lights are on, the lineup cards are being exchanged, Strasburg is finishing up his warmup, and we should be underway momentarily.]

9:39 p.m.: First pitch came at 9:36 p.m., and it had some giddy-up on it. Unfortunately, there are no radar-gun readouts at Metro Bank Park, but it was hard enough to draw an audible gasp (more of a "woooooo!") from the crowd. Strasburg struck out that first batter, Ben Revere, on three straight fastballs (the last two swinging strikes), then got the next two batters to pop up on the infield. All told, he threw six pitches in the inning, all but one of them fastballs. A much better first inning than he had last time out.

9:49 p.m.: A scout tells me Strasburg's fastball was mostly 98 mph during the first inning.

9:58 p.m.: Once again, when Strasburg went into the stretch position, with a runner on base, he lost some effectiveness. With two outs in the top of the second, Joe Benson hit a dribbler down the third base line for an infield single, taking second when the throw from Senators third baseman Adam Fox sailed wide of first base. On an 0-2 count to Juan Portes, Strasburg threw a fastball down the middle, and Portes connected for a line-drive double to left, scoring Benson -- an unearned run. It remains the only ball the River Cats have hit out of the infield against Strasburg, who threw 18 pitches (14 for strikes) in the inning, for a total of 24 (19 strikes) through two. And the score is tied at 1 apiece.

10:06 p.m.: Ugh. The rain just picked up again, and the umpires have waved the teams off the field. Another rain delay. Strasburg had just thrown his eighth pitch of the third inning, and his 32nd overall. I would imagine this is the end of his night (and the fans agree, judging by the mass exodus). The first batter of the inning, catcher Alexander Soto (the number nine hitter), was the first Rock Cats hitter to take Strasburg to a three-ball count, fouling off one 3-2 fastball before grounding out to shortstop. Strasburg had just thrown ball one to Revere when the umpires halted play. I have Strasburg at 32 pitches, 23 of them strikes. Of the 14 swings taken by New Britain hitters, six were swings-and-misses, two were fouls and six were put in play, including the two base hits.

10:22 p.m.: The rain is tapering off, but the tarp is still on the field and there is no word on a possible resumption of play. If Strasburg's night is indeed over, here is his pitching line for the night: 2 1/3 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K. Through two starts, he has thrown 7 1/3 innings and allowed six hits, five runs (one earned) and two walks while striking out 11. His ERA would be 1.23.

By Dave Sheinin  |  April 16, 2010; 6:46 PM ET
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Next: Stephen Strasburg dominates in rain-shortened home debut with Harrisburg


I sure hope they play, but I would be surprised if they pitch Strasburg much under conditions in which he could be injured.


Posted by: kevincostello | April 16, 2010 7:40 PM | Report abuse

Long silence, Dave. Doesn't bode well for that game. I hope there is a good restaurant in Harrisburg for your troubles.


Posted by: kevincostello | April 16, 2010 8:34 PM | Report abuse

Looking at the radar now - clear in Harrisburg for the moment. But there's more coming their way. If they start, it could be a brief appearance for Stras.

Posted by: Kev29 | April 16, 2010 8:47 PM | Report abuse

Ughhh ... I have tickets for Wednesday's game, hoping to catch his 2nd home start. Maybe I should buy some tix for tomorrow right now, before they sell out!

Posted by: mb129 | April 16, 2010 9:21 PM | Report abuse

- Nice outing for Lannan, with not enough support
- Baserunning mistakes
- Costly error late
- Shaky reliever
- Rain

Welcome to last year! :-(

Posted by: Kev29 | April 16, 2010 9:38 PM | Report abuse

Woohoo! Got the start in! We're pretty psyched about having this guy in Harrisburg for awhile ... wish I could have made tonight's game. But then again, I would have been there with my 5 year old so maybe working out OK that I'm not going till Wednesday!

Posted by: mb129 | April 16, 2010 9:42 PM | Report abuse


Is the expectation that the next move for Strasburg will be to AAA? (Assuming it's a move up, of course.)

Any guesses as to when that might be?

Posted by: McBride33 | April 16, 2010 9:44 PM | Report abuse

foul off 2 bunts and go yard?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | April 16, 2010 9:45 PM | Report abuse


Welcome to last year! :-(
Posted by: Kev29 | April 16, 2010 9:38 PM

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | April 16, 2010 9:48 PM | Report abuse

Adam Kennedy!

Posted by: McBride33 | April 16, 2010 9:50 PM | Report abuse

Oh yeah - my pessimism is quashed again! Nice bunt, Desi! And a pro effort from Kennedy tonight - that's why he's here. I can get used to this!

Breaking the Bushmills out for Capps

Posted by: Kev29 | April 16, 2010 9:51 PM | Report abuse

¬°Wil Nieves!

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | April 16, 2010 9:51 PM | Report abuse

The Nights We Say Nickel-Nickel.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | April 16, 2010 9:54 PM | Report abuse

Nice way to bounce back in the bottom of the 8th. Let's go Capps and close this thing out and get back to .500.

Posted by: mastroj | April 16, 2010 9:54 PM | Report abuse

Ahh... I guess Capps is not available today after getting 5 outs yesterday?

Posted by: mastroj | April 16, 2010 9:56 PM | Report abuse

Here comes big Matt. He needs some run in music. Any suggestions?

Posted by: Kev29 | April 16, 2010 9:59 PM | Report abuse

S'ok, Lefty. Every out you get lowers that ERA.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | April 16, 2010 10:00 PM | Report abuse

afaict, he doesn't use run in music. anybody know different?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | April 16, 2010 10:03 PM | Report abuse

Screw the music. #55 is 5 for 5.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | April 16, 2010 10:04 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: rachel216 | April 16, 2010 10:05 PM | Report abuse

Bang Zoom! .500 basebase ball once again.

Posted by: mastroj | April 16, 2010 10:05 PM | Report abuse

Mad Capps!! Bourbon and Maalox all around for my friends, bartender! 5-and-5. We're at .500!!! Let's hear it for mediocrity!

Posted by: Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me | April 16, 2010 10:06 PM | Report abuse

The crowd wasn't huge and the rain scattered them a bit, but they looked really pumped late in the game. Good to see!

Do your thing tomorrow, Livo

Posted by: Kev29 | April 16, 2010 10:07 PM | Report abuse

.500 again

Posted by: alex35332 | April 16, 2010 10:07 PM | Report abuse

Mediocrity never felt so good!!

Posted by: rachel216 | April 16, 2010 10:11 PM | Report abuse

Hey, we might be mediocre in record tonight, but we've got 9 more home games in front of us. And we won't see the Broadway Barfers again till nearly August.

Posted by: Kev29 | April 16, 2010 10:15 PM | Report abuse

They used "The Final Countdown" for Capps when they beat the Phils last week. I don't blame him for not having such a lame song this time. Given the way he's pitched all but two games, I think Queen's "Sheer Heart Attack" would be appropriate. Anyway, you've gotta be feeling good when you're team wins without their two top run producers. And it's great to see Lannan back to his old self!

Posted by: p-man | April 16, 2010 10:15 PM | Report abuse

Yay! Nats win, and the Hammer carried off the Elvis wig with aplomb. Now the fans need to come up with some Elvis regalia and signs, methinks.

In other news, couldn't convince the husband to go tomorrow, so I guess I'll be watching Livo on tv. :-(

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 16, 2010 10:51 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and tonight's Dibbleism of the Game was in his comments to Bob regarding the unfortunately named Hagar Scoreboard Drop (which tends to bring to mind the expression "drop trou" for me). But I digress. He opined that Bob is a perfect spokesman for them because he's good looking and wears his pants nice and tight, or something to that effect. Awk-ward. :-)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 16, 2010 10:54 PM | Report abuse

Just a little historical perspective to make this even sweeter. At this point last year, the Nats were 1-9. At that point, they were already 8.5 games (!) out of first. They didn't win their fifth game until April 29th, when they were 5-15.

Posted by: baltova1 | April 16, 2010 10:57 PM | Report abuse

Well, not a lot to complain about unless............ two situations where we had runners at the corner and didn't score not one run,i felt bad for Gonzalez on that throw on the bunt the umps blew the baseline call where Gomez was clearly out of the baseline. This team plays with a lot of heart and pitchers seem to be slowly but surely getting the message that if you don't throw strikes................ see you in Syracuse. It should be a good matchup tommorow Livo vs.Wolf and the Brewers paid about 30 million over how many years?

Posted by: dargregmag | April 16, 2010 11:20 PM | Report abuse

OK, help. Day game tomorrow, 1 pm start. Forecast is partly cloudy. I need seats (my Currently Strawberry Blonde Cubs Fan Wife needs, technically, so that means I do) in the shade. What section?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | April 16, 2010 11:23 PM | Report abuse

Sec3 - guranteed shade in the upper half of the rows in 138-143. Right field, under the scoreboard 200 level. Should be able to help you with that at the box office.

Posted by: Kev29 | April 16, 2010 11:39 PM | Report abuse

kthx kev

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | April 17, 2010 12:10 AM | Report abuse

Or, if you want to go all Veeckian and upper deckian, try a few rows back in 409, 410, that neighborhood.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 17, 2010 7:12 AM | Report abuse

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