In his first start against the Pittsburgh Pirates since striking out 14 in his MLB debut, falling one shy of the MLB record for strikeouts in a debut, Stephen Strasburg fanned 13 in just 6 innings Thursday night.
Strasburg deftly mixed up his fastball and off-speed pitches against Pittsburgh, registering seven strikeouts with a fastball and holding Pirates hitters to one hit with six strikeouts in eight at-bats ending with off-speed pitches.
He also kept the ball away, with 52.4 percent of his pitches (54 of 103) over the outer part of the plate. The Pirates were hitless with five strikeouts in six at-bats ending with pitches away.
And while Strasburg fell one punch-out short of his career high, he did set a personal record with 20 pitches resulting in swings-and-misses.
Strasburg’s start Thursday was the 24th of his career, making him the fifth pitcher to strike out 13 or more hitters twice his first 25 career games in the divisional era and first since Kerry Wood in 1998.
Most 13-K Games 1st 25 Career Games
Divisional Era (Since 1969)
Thursday was the fourth time in Strasburg’s career he struck out at least 10 batters in a game, the most such games by a Nationals pitcher since the franchise moved to Washington in 2005. He also became the first pitcher in the history of the Nationals or Expos to register 13 strikeouts in six of fewer innings.
Elsewhere in the majors Thursday:
• Josh Hamilton homered in his second game since tying an MLB record with 4 HR on Tuesday. Hamilton, who became the first player with 6 HR in a series since Hee Seop Choi in 2005 according to Elias, now has more HR since Monday than Jose Bautista, Alex Rodriguez, Joey Votto and Albert Pujols have all season.
• Josh Beckett allowed 7 runs in just 2⅓ innings as the Boston Red Sox lost to the Cleveland Indians. It was Beckett’s first start since 2008 in which he allowed at least 7 runs in fewer than 3 innings. Boston’s six straight losses at Fenway Park matches its longest home losing streak since losing 12 home games in a row in 1994.
• Elias tells us the Baltimore Orioles became the first AL team to open a game with back-to-back-to-back HR when Ryan Flaherty, J.J. Hardy and Nick Markakis homered to start the bottom of the first inning. All five of the Orioles hits were HR Thursday, making Baltimore just the third team to have five or more hits with all hits being homers in the live-ball era (since 1920).