K street: Strasburg racks up the strikeouts

K street: Strasburg racks up the strikeouts

WASHINGTON -- Stephen Strasburg made a little bit of history when he struck out 14 in his Major League debut Tuesday night.

Strasburg's club-record 14 strikeouts in a 5-2 win over the Pirates were the second-most by a pitcher in his debut. J.R. Richard and Karl Spooner are tied for the record with 15 in their first games. Richard did it for the Astros at San Francisco on Sept. 5, 1971 while Spooner got his mark for the Brooklyn Dodgers on Sept. 22, 1954 against the New York Giants.

Strasburg relied on a good mix of his fastball and sharp breaking pitches. The rookie reached the 100 mph mark at least twice early -- and was still throwing hard at the end of his outing.

The final pitch the right-hander threw was a 99 mph fastball that struck out Pittsburgh's Andy LaRoche.

"The adrenaline was definitely flowing there," Strasburg said. "I was just going to throw that ball as hard as I can. Luckily I was able to put it where he wasn't swinging."

In fact, Strasburg ended the night by striking out the final seven batters he faced. Even more impressive was the fact that he didn't walk anyone and needed just 94 pitches to get those 14 strikeouts.

Most strikeouts in MLB debut
Stephen Strasburg's 14 strikeouts rank second in a pitcher's MLB debut since 1900, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
No. Pitcher Team Date Opponent
15 J.R. Richard Astros 9/5/1971 Giants
15 Karl Spooner Dodgers 9/22/1954 Giants
14 Stephen Strasburg Nationals 6/8/2010 Pirates
13 Cliff Melton Giants 4/25/1937 Braves
12 Steve Woodard Brewers 7/28/1997 Blue Jays
12 Juan Marichal Giants 7/19/1960 Phillies
12 Elmer Myers A's 10/6/1915 Senators

Strasburg had a number of impressive stretches, but one of the first ones came in the second inning when Garrett Jones led off. Jones got ahead in the count, 3-0, before Strasburg struck him out on consecutive fastballs of 97, 99 and 99 mph.

Twelve of Strasburg's 14 strikeouts were on swings and misses. He struck out every batter in Pittsburgh's lineup at least once.

"This kid is unbelievable," said Washington catcher Ivan Rodriguez, who guided Strasburg through the game. "He's always in the strike zone. He just attacks the strike zone."

Strasburg also impressed his college coach, who knows a thing or two about hitting. San Diego State coach Tony Gwynn, a member of the Hall of Fame, came into town to watch his former pitcher make his first Major League start.

Gwynn said he was impressed with how Strasburg seemed to kick things up a notch after the Nationals scored three runs in the sixth inning to take a 4-2 lead. There was no question that Strasburg got stronger as the game went on.

"When he's rolling like he was later on in that game, he can roll them up," Gwynn said. "He's just a tough guy to hit. He's got such good stuff and such good movement, it's really difficult."

Jeff Seidel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.