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Standing room only for Strasburg's Nationals debut

| June 8, 2010 9:00 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) - The anticipation is nearly over. The 21-year-old with the fastball that approaches 100 mph and the curve that freezes batters is about to take the mound in the nation's capital.

Stephen Strasburg is set to make his Washington Nationals debut tonight.

Standing room only tickets went on sale Monday, all part of a rare Nationals Park sellout. The Internet is humming with offers for good seats. More than 200 requests for media credentials have been submitted, forcing officials to turn a dining area into a work space to accommodate all those reporters with laptops.

For the Nationals, Strasburg's major league debut is best summed up in one word.

Finally.

"I'm looking forward to that first outing or two being out of the way," manager Jim Riggleman said. "I know the attention's not going to go away completely, but the anticipation of the thing has been building since the draft - and before the draft - last year."

The Nationals are actually having a decent year following back-to-back 100-losses seasons, but everything they've done has been overshadowed by talk about a player who didn't have a locker in the clubhouse, whose debut against the Pittsburgh Pirates has been given its own baseball holiday nickname: "Strasmas."

It was almost cruel to watch Strasburg overwhelm hitters in Double-A and Triple-A. His combined stats: 7-2 with a 1.30 ERA with 65 strikeouts and only 13 walks in 55 1/3 innings.

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