Clean-shaven and wearing no.9 (which looked odd) this afternoon in Metro Bank Park in Harrisburg, PA, Stephen Strasburg made his first rehab start.
The no.1 pick of the 2009 Draft, who landed on the DL on May 30th with "neck tightness" retired the side in order in a quick top of the first inning against Richmond's Flying Squirrels in which he got a fly to right and two groundouts to third.
Strasburg got up 0-2 on the first batter in the second, but bounced two curves the hitter spit on before popping out to new Nats' prospect Trea Turner at short on a 2-2 heater. Strasburg's fastball registered 96 mph on the Metro Bank Park radar according to Senators' broadcaster Terry Byrom and he was spotting it well, getting a called strike three with a 2-2 pitch after just "missing" with a 1-2 heater. A 2-2 curve got him a swinging strike and his sixth straight out to start the game, with the 15-pitch frame leaving him at 23 total after two.
A 1-2 fastball got Strasburg a groundout to short for his seventh straight out before a grounder got through the left side of the infield for Richmond's first hit, but he got off the mound quickly on a bunt in the next at bat, throwing to second to cut down the lead runner though a moment's hesitation cost him any chance for a DP.
An RBI double to right-center in the next bat was almost an out as it glanced off center fielder Derrick Robinson's glove before falling to the ground, 1-0.
Strasburg's first change was an 0-1 offering that was chased out the zone, 0-2. He spiked a fastball on the next pitch, and just missed with a backdoor curve, but got a groundout to first with a 2-2 fastball for the third out of a 12-pitch third. 35 total after three.
Strasburg just missed with a letter-high 0-2 heater outside to first batter of the fourth, but threw a 1-2 fastball by the overmatched hitter (who threw his bat down the third base line) for his third K of the game.
Strasburg dropped a curve in outside to get up 0-1 in the next at bat, blew a fastball by the Flying Squirrels' hitter and "just missed" with an 0-2 heater. He missed with a 1-2 fastball as well, and got a groundout to third on which Matt Skole made a throwing error. With a runner on again, Strasburg gave up a high chopper of a grounder that got through the right side to put runners on the corners with one out, and a single through short on an 0-1 fastball brought in Richmond's second run of the game. 2-0.
Strasburg dropped on 0-1 curve in for a called strike to the next batter he faced and got a force at second with an 0-2 fastball. A fastball up high got Strasburg to a 2-2 count in the next AB, and after he "missed" with a fastball outside, he came back with a full-count curve that got him a swinging strike and K no.4. 22-pitch frame. 57 total after four.
The in-stadium radar gun registered 98 on Strasburg's first pitch of the fifth, and he dialed it up again with a 2-2 heater to get a swinging K and his fifth strikeout in 4 ⅓. Strasburg threw a first pitch curve for a called strike and followed up with a heater up high to get up 0-2 before wasting a curve in the dirt.
A 2-2 heater way inside evened it up at 2-2 and a fastball got a groundout to third for out no.2. Strasburg got ahead 1-2 and threw a 96 mph heater by the last batter of the fifth for K no.6 of a 1-2-3 frame. 71 pitches total after a 14-pitch fifth.
That was it for his rehab start as 2011 1st Round pick Brian Goodwin hit for Strasburg in the bottom of the inning.
• Notes: Apologies for the lack of opposing hitters' names, was watching MiLB.tv on my iPhone and couldn't follow Gameday as well while typing. Lazy, I know.
Strasburg's fastball was sitting around 96 (according to the in-stadium radar gun -- as relayed on the broadcast by Terry Byrom. Dialed it up to 98. Curves mostly out of zone low, which Double-A hitters chased. Major leaguers?
Batters overmatched when he went up high with the fastball.
Most important, no sign of any physical issues. Trying to ignore that there were a few hits when runners were on base...