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"Our game plan was to get something to hit, be aggressive with his fastball in the zone," said Lastings Milledge, Strasburg's first strikeout victim, "and he didn't give us that."
Strasburg also tied Max Scherzer of the Detroit Tigers for most strikeouts in a game in the majors this season. Scherzer had 14 on May 30 against Oakland.
The day was nicknamed "Strasmus" -- and it was the biggest baseball event in the nation's capital since the sport returned in 2005 after a 33-year absence. To go real deep into history, one could argue that Strasburg had the most anticipated Washington rookie pitching debut since Walter Johnson at the long-forgotten American League Park on Aug. 2, 1907.
Strasburg left with a 4-2 lead, the Nationals supporting him with home runs by Ryan Zimmerman, Dunn and Josh Willingham. All three homers came off Pirates starter Jeff Karstens (1-2).
Tyler Clippard pitched the eighth and Matt Capps the ninth for his 19th save.
Cameras flashed as Strasburg (1-0) threw his first pitch at 7:06 p.m. -- 97 mph to leadoff hitter Andrew McCutchen. Fans booed when Hallion called it a ball. Rodriguez then handed the ball to the umpire and it was removed from play for posterity.
Strasburg was promoted after dominating the minors, going 7-2 with a 1.30 ERA, 65 strikeouts and only 13 walks in 11 starts in Double-A and Triple-A. His debut came nearly a year to the day after he was drafted No. 1 overall, and one day after the Nationals -- who have lost 100 games in consecutive seasons -- chose 17-year-old hitting sensation Bryce Harper with the No. 1 overall selection in this year's draft.
Washington sold out Nationals Park for only the second time all season. Fans cheered when Strasburg emerged from the dugout at 6:24 p.m. with pitching coach Steve McCatty, then came a standing ovation when he walked back to the dugout after warming up in the bullpen. McCatty pretended the cheers were for him and doffed his cap.
"That kind of put a smile on my face," Strasburg said. "He made me laugh, and kept me loose."
Not that the kid needed much help.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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