Washington Nationals phenom pitcher Stephen Strasburg impressed in his major league debut Tuesday night when he struck out three Pittsburgh Pirates batters using just one of his awe-inspiring pitches.
“I’m not sure what happened,” said Pirates first baseman Garrett Jones, who was the first batter put down by Strasburg in the top of the seventh. “I think what it was is that he threw the first pitch so fast, it ripped right through the catcher, the umpire, the back wall of the stadium and then circumnavigated the earth – two times to get me to strike out, and then six more times to set down the two guys behind me. Needless to say, it was a really fast pitch. And I think that was even his change-up.”
Pirates outfielder Delwyn Young, who was up after Jones, remembers the feat differently.
"Really? That’s what Garrett says happened?” said Young. “All I remember is seeing Strasburg throw the first pitch and then Pudge Rodriguez’s glove hand tear apart in an explosion of blood and bone. I passed out then. When I woke up, the inning was over. I assumed I was called out by forfeit or something because I was laying passed out in the batter’s box. But I guess maybe in my shock I came to, went to the plate and watched as that pitch came around the globe three more times.”
Even Strasburg, the greatest pitcher ever, says he doesn’t know for sure how he set down the order on just one pitch.
“I’ve struck out the side before,” he said. “Actually, every inning I’ve ever pitched I’ve done it. But never on one pitch before. Three? Yes. Two pitches? A few times. But never just one pitch. The thing is, I don’t remember what happened exactly. I’m usually distracted when I’m on the mound because baseball is so easy for me that I’m lost in my head solving world hunger and figuring out how to stop oil spills and stuff. Which reminds me, I need to pass my findings onto the people down in New Orleans. I’ll just affix a note to a baseball and throw it all the way down there.”
Whatever pitch it was that Strasburg used to strike out the side, he knows it wasn’t his curveball.
“I can’t throw my curveball. It’s unsafe to do it in a stadium,” he said. “It actually curves so much that it starts out way into the stands before snapping back over the plate. I don’t want to hit some kid or old lady in the stands in the face.”
Nationals manager Jim Riggelman says striking out the side on one pitch is just the tip of the iceberg with Strasburg.
"Stephen is only 21 years old, his whole career is ahead of him," he said. "Plus, maybe one day he'll play for the Yankees. Ooh! Or even the Red Sox. Then not only would he be great, but he would be, like, super important and relevant."