Strasburg live-blog: Rochester edition
9:11 p.m.: Strasburg faced just one batter in the seventh, striking out Danny Valencia looking at a 96 mph fastball at the knees. To revise all the numbers, he wound up throwing 92 pitches, 60 for strikes. His final pitching line: 6 1/3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 W, 9 K. And his overall ERA this season is 0.89. Why did they send him back out for one batter? Perhaps to push him past 90 pitches for the first time this season, as the Nationals prepare to call him to the majors in about two weeks. Or perhaps to give him the experience of a standing ovation from a packed house on the road -- which he certainly got as he came off the mound moments ago.
9:08 p.m.: Hold that thought. Strasburg is back out there for the seventh.
9:01 p.m.: The sixth was another dominant inning for Strasburg, with a pair of strikeouts (one on a high fastball, the other on a wicked curve) and a lazy fly to left. That will almost certainly be Strasburg's final inning, as he's at a season-high 86 pitches (56 for the night). His line: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 W, 8 K. If the Chiefs hang on to win (they're up 5-0 at the moment) he will improve to 3-0 with a 0.00 ERA at Class AAA and 6-1 with a 0.90 ERA. He has thrown 21 consecutive scoreless innings, including 18 at Class AAA.
8:48 p.m.: There were some ugly swings by the Red Wings in the fifth, in which Strasburg allowed a soft, ground-ball hit up the middle, but otherwise struck out the side. (That's six strikeouts for Strasburg tonight.) He threw a lot of curves in that frame, catching Brock Peterson looking at one for the first strikeout and getting Trevor Plouffe to chase one for the third. Strasburg is at 74 pitches (47 strikeouts) for the game, and probably has only one inning left.
8:25 p.m.: I believe I just saw more hard-hit balls off Strasburg in that inning that in all his minor-league innings combined entering tonight. Included was a hard smash up the middle by Jose Morales for a base hit (the second allowed by Strasburg tonight), a hard line-drive out to center by Dustin Martin and a scorched liner to third by Danny Valencia that Chase Lambin snagged with a fabulous diving play. (The stadium radar gun had Strasburg at 91 to 95 mph in that half-inning, but you never know about the accuracy of these things.) On the plus side, it was a quick, seven-pitch inning, and Strasburg's pitch-count is at 60 through four innings. The Chiefs are winning the game, 4-0.
8:06 p.m.: The no-hit streak is over after 10 innings, with Trevor Plouffe collecting the first hit off Strasburg since the fourth inning of his first Class AAA start -- a dribbler to third that Chase Lambin charged, fielded cleanly and threw to first, about a half-step too late. (If you want to get technical about things, counting the final two batters of the fourth inning on May 7 and the first two outs of the third inning tonight, the no-hit streak was 11 1/3 innings.) Strasburg's command is also a little off tonight, as evidenced by a four-pitch walk to Matt Tolbert, Strasburg's second of the night. He was also victimized by a second error by his infield, this one by shortstop Pedro Lopez. But once again, Strasburg helped himself with a double-play grounder. He also picked up his third strikeout of the game, getting Brian Dinkelman looking on a filthy 1-2 curve ball. All told, he threw 16 pitches (nine for strikes) and is at 53 (with 31 strikes) for the game.
7:45 p.m.: Strasburg had to work to get out of the second inning, but it was another hitless frame -- which makes 10 straight. He gave up a five-pitch leadoff walk to Jose Morales, then saw his infield botch a force play at second (with the error going to second baseman Eric Bruntlett) to put runners on first and second with nobody out. But he used a sinker to coax a double-play grounder out of Danny Valencia, then outlasted Jacque Jones (yes, that Jacque Jones) during a seven-pitch strikeout, getting Jones swinging on a 2-2 curve. Strasburg's changeup is particularly good again tonight -- he has thrown it three times and gotten three ugly swings-and-misses. But through two innings, his pitch-count is up to 37, with 22 strikes.
7:22 p.m.: With a 1-2-3 first inning, Strasburg has extended his string of no-hit innings to nine, dating back to the fifth and sixth innings of his May 7 start. This one consisted of a strikeout (looking), a dribbler to third (with a nifty play from Chiefs third baseman Chase Lambin) and a one-hop comebacker. His fastball topped out at 99 mph on the stadium radar gun during that frame, but at least one gun in the scouts' section had him at 100. If you're into nitpicking, he did fall behind 2-0 to the first two batters (and 1-0 to the third), but battled back each time. He threw 18 pitches in the inning, all but three of them fastballs. The one changeup he threw was a doozy, causing Brian Dinkelman to swing and miss by about three feet.
7:00 p.m.: They've got Strasburg-mania in Rochester, N.Y. The host Red Wings are expecting a sell-out crowd for tonight's 7:05 p.m. start against Stephen Strasburg and the Syracuse Chiefs, and there is even talk of breaking the all-time Frontier Field attendance record set in 1997 for Hideki Irabu's American debut with the Columbus Clippers.
This has been already been a long day for the Chiefs and Red Wings, who started the first game of this day-night doubleheader (necessitated by Tuesday night's rainout) at 11:05 a.m. The Chiefs won that one, 8-5, with Matt Chico going six innings for the victory, Chris Duncan hitting his fifth homer of the season and Chase Lambin posting two doubles and three RBI. Strasburg spent the morning at the team hotel, resting up for tonight's start.
No one I've spoken to can remember another instance of a day-night doubleheader in the minor leagues. Typically, those take place in the big leagues only when the combined tickets sold for the two games exceeds the capacity of the stadium. In this case, the 11:05 a.m. game today was already scheduled, and playing the second game immediately afterwards would have precluded many fans from attending. Thus, the day-night split and the 7:05 p.m. start.
The scoreboard here is advertising Washington Nationals T-shirts with Strasburg's name and number on the back. Cost: $19.99. (By comparison, a Red Wings T-shirt with the name and number of 1981 Red Wings star Cal Ripken Jr. are going for a mere $15.)
To recap Strasburg's stats to this point: He is 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA at Class AAA, and 5-1 with a 1.06 ERA overall. (By my math, with three more scoreless innings tonight, his overall ERA will dip below 1.) He is averaging 10.6 strikeouts and 2.1 walks (and 0.0 home runs) per nine innings.
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