• Stephen Strasburg Start 6:
Stephen Strasburg was throwing to a familiar catcher in his sixth rehab start tonight with the Harrisburg Senators. Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez, rehabbing from an oblique injury and Strasburg, rehabbing from Tommy John, found themselves in Metro Bank Park in Pennsylvania, in the home of the Washington Nationals' Double-A affiliate, working together again as they had in the first game Strasburg pitched in the majors and throughout the first three months with the Nats.
Strasburg starts tonight's game with a 96 mph fastball that's called a strike, then hits the outside corner with a curve to get up 0-2 before throwing a bender that drops off the plate outside and gets the Portland Sea Dogs' leadoff hitter Ryan Khoury chasing for the first out of the night. Two grounders to short later the right-hander is through the first on eleven pitches, nine strikes, and it was all fastballs and curves in the first, wait until he starts throwing his change...
The Senators came up empty in the bottom of the first and Strasburg took the mound again. Another 96 mph heater starts the frame. Strasburg misses low with an 0-1 fastball then leaves a fastball up for a lineout to Senators' left fielder Chris Rahl. The Nats/Senators' right-hander drops a 1-1 curve in for a called strike two then throws a mid-90's heater by Sea Dogs' first baseman Reynaldo Rodriguez. Swinging K. Portland outfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker fouls off one 2-2 fastball then slices a curve out to third for out no. 3. 24 pitches for Strasburg through two and 18 pitches are strikes.
Senators' DH Derek Norris walked, stole a base and scored on a Leonard Davis' single in the Harrisburg second to give Strasburg a 1-0 lead to work with. An 80 mph 1-1 curve got Strasburg up on Portland catcher Daniel Butler, who fouls off a 1-2 pitch then sends a weak grounder out to short for Strasburg's seventh-straight out. Sea Dogs' right fielder Mitch Dening pops up an 0-1 pitch up to left, and shortstop Ryan Dent gets down 0-2, fights the urge to chase on a 98 mph fastball up high and then lines out to right where Senators' left fielder Leonard Davis catches Strasburg's ninth straight out.
Veteran Senator Tim Pahuta's three-run blast in the third gives Strasburg a 4-0 lead before he steps back on the mound to face the Sea Dogs' hitters the second time through. This time he starts Ryan Khoury with a 95 fastball for a strike, but misses with the 0-1 curve. Khoury chases an 80 mph 1-1 bender and K's swinging through a change. Strasburg get behind 2-0 to Hassan but gets a groundout to third with the third pitch, and Portland infielder Oscar Tejada flies out to right on a first pitch fastball that gives Strasburg four scoreless on 43 pitches after an eight-pitch frame.
The fifth and likely final frame of Strasburg's sixth rehab start begins with the right-hander throwing a mid-90's heater outside to Wagner before missing low and outside with a change. Wagner manages to foul off 95 mph heater before grounding out to third on a 1-2 pitch. 13-straight batters retired. Reynaldo Rodriguez takes a healthy cut at a 1-0 fastball and comes up empty before fouling off a 1-2 fastball and flying out to short center where Senators' shortstop Josh Johnson makes the catch 14 in a row. Jeremy Hazelbaker squares to bunt before pulling back as a first-pitch curve drops in for a strike, and then catches an 0-1 fastball inside on the jersey for a HBP and the Sea Dogs' first runner, but Pudge Rodriguez throws him out one pitch into the fourth AB of the inning. 5.0 scoreless, 54 pitches, 40 strikes, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K's.
With Harrisburg up 9-0 after 5.0 and on their way to a Division-clinching win, Strasburg comes back out for the sixth and gets up 0-2 quickly on Daniel Butler, who doubles to left on a hanging curve. The first hit off Strasburg tonight is a double by the Sea Dogs' backstop. A first-pitch fastball to Mitch Dening then an 87 mph change and Strasburg's up 0-2. The Portland right fielder fouls three pitches off before grounding back to the mound. Strasburg cuts down the lead runner, throwing to third and getting the out in a rundown. One out. Sea Dogs' SS Ryan Dent takes two curves that were called balls before fouling off two fastballs and striking out swinging through a 2-2 curve. 4 K's for Strasburg. Ryan Khoury in his third at bat, fouls off a 1-0 fastball, then lines out to short. 6.0 scoreless. Strasburg's final line: 6.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R/0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K's, 71 pitches, 55 strikes, 7 groundouts, 4 flyouts for Stephen Strasburg in Harrisburg in sixth rehab start.
Next stop, NatsTown on Tuesday.