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This article was published 8/6/2010 (4405 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
WASHINGTON -- Over-hyped? Are you kidding? Stephen Strasburg went beyond the hype -- and anyone's reasonable expectations -- by striking out 14 batters in his electric major league debut.
With a standing-room-only crowd cheering every pitch, the Washington Nationals phenom put on a dazzling display of power pitching Tuesday night in a 5-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. His heaters reached 100 m.p.h., and batters found his nasty curveballs nearly impossible to hit.
"I just wanted to go out and soak up everything. It only happens once and I've been waiting for this my whole life," Strasburg said.
Last year's No. 1 overall draft pick -- the one with the record US$15.1 million contract -- threw his first pitch 97 m.p.h. and got stronger as the game progressed. He struck out the last seven batters he faced, and all nine Pirates in the starting lineup fanned at least once.
The 21-year-old right-hander took a curtain call after pitching seven innings. He allowed four hits, two earned runs and didn't walk a batter, piling up the most strikeouts in a major league debut since J.R. Richard fanned 15 for Houston in 1971 in a complete-game 5-3 win over San Francisco.
Karl Spooner also struck out 15 in his debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1954. He and Richard are the only two pitchers with more strikeouts than Strasburg in a big league debut since 1920 -- and Spooner and Richard both had three walks.
Strasburg also tied Max Scherzer of the Detroit Tigers for most strikeouts in a game in the majors this season. Scherzer had 14 on May 30 against Oakland.
Strasburg was removed for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the seventh with a 4-2 lead. When it was announced that he had set a team record for strikeouts since the franchise's move to Washington in 2005, the crowd roared again -- and Strasburg emerged to the top step of the dugout and tipped his cap.
During a post-game interview, Strasburg was pelted with a shaving cream pie to the face courtesy of teammate John Lannan. The rookie was quickly handed a towel, but after wiping his face was blindsided by two more pies -- one to the face and another on top of his head.
"It's hard to talk with so much shaving cream on my head," Strasburg said. "I just wanted to go out there and say I've had my first outing in the big leagues. I've had a great time."
He made one noticeable mistake, a 90 m.p.h. changeup golfed by Delwyn Young into the first row in right field for a two-run homer in the fourth. The ball would have made a great souvenir, but a fan threw it back onto the field.
-- The Associated Press