Strasburg solid in rain-shortened start

Strasburg solid in rain-shortened start

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Six pitches. Four minutes. Three outs.

That's all it took for Harrisburg Senators starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg to retire the New Britain Rock Cats in the first inning of his long-awaited Metro Bank Park debut on Friday night.

Strasburg, drafted No. 1 overall by the Washington Nationals in 2009, had to wait roughly two and a half hours to take the mound as a steady rain and then a blackout pushed back the start of the game from 7 p.m. ET to about 9:30 p.m.

The blackout was particularly frustrating because it occurred after the teams had already come out on the field to warm up.

Still, when Strasburg finally got his chance, he delivered.

The right-hander struck out New Britain leadoff man Ben Revere in the first inning, then registered two more strikeouts in the second, as he caught both Chris Parmelee and Estarlin De Los Santos looking.

During the top of the third, the rain returned -- this time as a sudden downpour -- and the game was delayed for more than an hour.

Senators manager Randy Knorr said before the game that the plan was for Strasburg to go five innings and about 85 pitches.

But the nasty weather cut the pitcher's night short.

When play finally resumed after 11 p.m., right-hander Rafael Martin had replaced Strasburg, and the Senators starter was done after just 2 1/3 innings of work.

"There was no chance he was going back out -- any of our starters really," said pitching coach Randy Tomlin. "It's a matter of safety first. It's too early in the season to put him at risk after a 45-plus-minute rain delay."

Still, it was an impressive start.

"I thought he handled things extremely well, with the wait, the rain and then the blackout," Tomlin said. "That's what's so special about him. He kept his focus and just dealt with it. When he took the mound he was doing good, really good."

All the delays were frustrating. Strasburg said he'd never been through anything like that before, but tried not to let it get to him.

"Obviously you can't let that have any effect out there. You still have to go out there and do your job," Strasburg said. "There's going to be days when there's going to be things you don't expect to happen, that happen."

New Britain scored one unearned run off a fielding error in the second inning, but Strasburg did not give up any earned runs. He gave up two hits and threw 23 high-velocity strikes out of 32 total pitches. He did not reach 100 mph but was clocked at about 98.

Strasburg went into the game with a 1-0 record and a 1.80 ERA, fresh off his official Minor League debut against the Altoona Curve on April 11.

Despite his night ending on a premature note, Strasburg said he felt better about his pitching this time around.

"It felt a lot better. It was a pretty loose outing," Strasburg said. "I made a few adjustments and was able to get ahead on a lot more guys.

"Everything felt good, definitely something to build off of and repeat and improve on for the next outing."

The game finally ended at 12:53 a.m. New Britain won, 2-1.

Stefanie Loh is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.