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Dazzling debut for Strasburg

| June 9, 2010 9:00 PM


Stephen Strasburg struck out 14 batters in his first game, took three shaving cream pies to the face, donned a silver Elvis wig - then compared it all to getting married.

What could he possibly do for an encore?

Baseball's newest wunderkind went beyond the hype - and anyone's reasonable expectations - with an electric and unprecedented major league debut Tuesday night in the Washington Nationals' 5-2 win over the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates.

"I've been catching a lot of guys," said likely Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez, patting Strasburg on the left shoulder, "but this kid is unbelievable."

With a standing-room-only crowd roaring at every chance, last year's No. 1 overall draft pick put on a dazzling display of power pitching. His fastballs reached 100 mph - and still had movement when they crossed the plate - and his nasty curves were nearly impossible to hit.

The 21-year-old right-hander allowed four hits, two earned runs and didn't walk a batter, piling up the most strikeouts in a big league debut since J.R. Richard fanned 15 for Houston in 1971. He was pulled for a pinch hitter after seven innings and took a quick curtain call.

After the final out, Strasburg was pelted with a shaving cream pie to the face courtesy of teammate John Lannan. The rookie was quickly handed a towel, but after wiping his face was blindsided by two more pies. Then someone crowned him with the goofy, oversized wig that's named after Elvis Presley - a clubhouse ritual for whoever teammates choose as the player of the game.

"It's hard to talk with so much shaving cream on my head," Strasburg said. "I just wanted to go out there and say I've had my first outing in the big leagues. I've had a great time."

Strasburg always pitches in a hurry - the game took only 2 hours, 19 minutes - and plate umpire Tom Hallion even suggested to him that he slow down his warmups because the breaks between innings are longer in the majors.

"The only thing I really remember is the first pitch - ball inside - everything else is just such a blur," Strasburg said. "At one point I lost track of how many innings I threw. I was like, 'You know what? I'm just going to go out there and have fun.' It's amazing.

"It's kind of like when you get married and everything, you kind of go into it wanting to remember everything - and once it's done, you can't remember a single thing."

Giants 3, Reds 0: Matt Cain pitched a seven-hitter, leading San Francisco at Cincinnati.

Phillies 10, Marlins 8: Ben Francisco hit a two-run single in the eighth and Philadelphia rallied past visiting Florida.

Braves 7, Diamondbacks 5: At Phoenix, Troy Glaus doubled in the go-ahead run in the eighth and Atlanta beat Arizona.

Dodgers 1, Cardinals 0: Manny Ramirez hit an RBI double in the eighth and host Los Angeles beat St. Louis to take sole possession of first place in the NL West.

Astros 4, Rockies 3: At Denver, Carlos Lee hit a tie-breaking RBI single in the eighth and Houston rallied past Colorado.

Brewers 3, Cubs 2: Casey McGehee hit a two-run single in the ninth, rallying Milwaukee past visiting Chicago.

Mets 2, Padres 1, 11 inn.: Ike Davis homered in the 11th, leading host New York past San Diego.


Rays 9, Blue Jays 0: At St. Petersburg, Fla., Carlos Pena homered twice and drove in five runs to lead Tampa Bay past Toronto.

Twins 7, Royals 3: At Minneapolis, Kevin Slowey pitched seven effective innings, leading Minnesota past Kansas City.

Tigers 7, White Sox 2: Brennan Boesch and Carlos Guillen homered, leading Detroit at Chicago.

Red Sox 3, Indians 2: Tim Wakefield pitched 7 1/3 solid innings and Boston won at Cleveland.

Yankees 12, Orioles 7: Curtis Granderson hit a grand slam, leading New York at Baltimore.

Athletics 10, Angels 1: Kurt Suzuki homered and had four RBIs, leading host Oakland past Los Angeles.

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