I was lucky enough to go to the game last night, and was amazed with the atmosphere. The crowd was there to see Stephen Strasburg, and I think even the fans with the biggest expectations weren’t disappointed. I went to the final game of the 1999 World Series and the fans weren’t hanging on every pitch the way they were last night. It was truly a joyous, excited crowd, and they didn’t even get down after he gave up a homer to fall behind 2-1. Before getting in to anything else, let’s take a look at some of the ridiculous things that occurred last night:
- Strasburg struck out 14 batters, third most all time for a debut.
- He struck out 14 batters, and walked zero. Nobody in his major league debut had struck out that many without walking anyone. (In fact, since 1900, it’s only happened 5 times, all non-debuts: Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Javier Vazquez, Mike Mussina, and Brad Penny)
- He struck out 14 hitters in 94 pitches – no pitcher had ever struck out that many in less than 96. EVER!
- Nobody on the Nationals had ever struck out 14 in one game.
- The Nats struck out 17 hitters. The last time this many were struck out in a 9 inning game was 1997. This pitching staff, by the way, is still last in the NL in strikeouts.
- According to Jayson Stark, Strasburg hit 98 mph and 99 mph 16 times each, and had two pitches at 100 mph.
- Strasburg struck out the last seven batters he faced.
- Every Pittsburgh starter had at least 1 strikeout
- He struck out the side on 11 pitches, in the 6th inning.
I’m sure there’s more. The crowd size is pretty ridiculous for this stadium. I was there around 5:15, and I was certainly not the first person there. The Red Porch was already crowded, with a line waiting for tables. Throughout the game, it was packed everywhere, and I am not sure the staff was completely ready for it. But at least the bathroom lines moved quickly. I thought a ton of people were gonna leave once Strasburg was done, and maybe some did, but it was still packed for the last pitch. It probably helped that he pitched 7 innings. On my way out, we ended up going into the Bullpen faux beer garden and that was packed. The game took less than 2 and a half hours, and it seemed people just weren’t ready to leave the stadium, not after the electricity of the night.
Every baseball person across the country was paying attention to the debut, and I think the team and the fanbase looked good. Also, I got an e-mail from The Hardball Times’ Chris Jaffe last night, who was trying to compare his start to other debuts in real time. Check out the article here, he’s got a very interesting B-R link in there.
Return of Pudge
The back to back home runs, for Dunn and Willingham, as well as the exciting first inning homer for Zimmerman (that had everyone thinking about the exciting future for this team) will be credited to Strasburg as well. The team looked alive, thanks to a 100 mph fastball and sickeningly good breaking ball on their side, as well as 40,000+ fans. But I wonder if some of that liveliness can be credited to Ivan Rodriguez being back in the lineup. They didn’t play well without him, and while the lack of hitting at the catching position is part of the reason, I think there is more to it than that.
The Beer IS Here
Sitting in the Red Porch bar area, I finally found the missing beers I had whined about for 2 years. Almost every bar throughout the stadium has the same collection of about 4 types of bottled beer, and about 4 types of draft beer. This is great, I appreciate the selection. But I had heard there were many more beers in the stadium somewhere, and I finally found them. The Red Porch had really great beers – Dogfish Head, Hook and Ladder, Harpoon UFO Hefeweizen, Heavy Seas Loose Cannon IPA, among others. It makes me happy that now I know where to get such great beers, but it really bothers me that this is the only place the masses can obtain them. How hard would it be to set up a couple of stands near home plate, one on the lower concourse and one on the upper concourse? Do they think that people won’t buy them? I know I will.