SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Stephen Strasburg struck out seven in five innings, giving up one earned run on two hits in a rehab start for Triple-A Syracuse on Saturday night.
It was Strasburg's fifth minor league appearance since undergoing Tommy John surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow. The right-hander threw every pitch in his arsenal, displaying a fastball that registered as high as 98 mph, while mixing in a devastating curveball to go along with his changeup.
It was an overpowering start against the Rochester Redwings, as Strasburg threw 64 pitches with 47 strikes. He didn't issue a walk, and didn't even allow a fly-ball out until the fifth inning.
"I was really able to pound the zone. I think I went out there and really focused on good tempo, attacking the strike zone," Strasburg said. "Really just going back to the mindset I had before. It's a lot of time, you forget some of the little things you key in on during the game just because you have so much time off."
Cruising for five innings, Strasburg gave up two straight singles to start the sixth before Chiefs manager Randy Knorr removed him from the game.
Strasburg jogged off the field to a standing ovation.
Pitching at the highest level since being with Washington in 2010, Strasburg struck out four of the first six batters he faced. Starting off the second inning, he had a 10-pitch battle with Redwings first baseman Jeff Bailey, who fouled off seven pitches before chasing a changeup that clocked in at 90 mph.
As the Redwings looked overpowered from the beginning of the game, the poised Strasburg looked major league ready almost immediately upon taking the mound. However, he said his curveball still is coming back and will likely remain that way through the end of the year.
"It felt a lot better tonight. I made some adjustments in the last bullpen," Strasburg said. "I'm still not getting the kind of break that I had before, but there are flashes of it. You can't be too mad about it."
It's been a mostly easy road back to the major leagues for the Nationals' prized pitcher. The right-hander has had only one poor outing, when he gave up five runs on four hits to the Lexington Legends in 1 2/3 innings while pitching for Class A Hagerstown on Aug. 17.
The 2009 first overall draft pick, who signed a four-year contract worth $15.1 million with the Nationals, overpowered major league hitters before he was injured. In six starts for the Nationals last season, Strasburg went 4-1 with a 1.08 ERA in 33 1/3 innings. He gave up only 18 hits and seven walks while striking out 38.
Strasburg set a major league record with 32 strikeouts in his first three starts.
Strasburg is expected to make one more minor league start for Harrisburg on Sept. 1, then will likely pitch for the Nationals on Sept. 6.
"The goal right now is to go out there, feel good, feel good the next day and do it all over again in five days," Strasburg said. "My goal right now is to go into the offseason healthy and be ready to go for spring training."