“Wait and See” is a mantra that Nationals Fans have been familiar with since last August, when newly minted Nationals Hero Stephen Strasburg went first on the disabled list, and then underwent Tommy John surgery to replace the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching arm. As the storm clouds, remnants of Tropical Storm Lee, pummeled the DC area all day, the scheduled debut was less than certain.
“Wait and See,” the team said, along with the meteorologists and amateur weathermen alike. At 4:30pm, the rain began to taper off, and by 5:30pm the tarp was draining into left field as we all awaited the word of the weather and the start of the game. Manager Davey Johnson had said in the pre-game conference that in the case of a rain delay, Strasburg wouldn’t be coming out, and instead we’d have the MLB debut of Brad Peacock instead. The storm held off, passing just West of the District line as each wave of the storm came through.
At 6:37pm, Stephen Strasburg walked up the steps to the field, and headed out to the bullpen with coach Steve McCatty to start his warmups, signaling that the Nats were going to try to get this one in, by hook or by crook. As if that were the signal, the crowd began to come down from the concourses and take their seats, with about 20,000 braving what many forecasters had said would be a for-sure bank-on-it rainout for the Nationals.
At 7:04pm, Strasburg took the mound to a standing ovation from the crowd, and at 7:10pm, he threw his first big league pitch since last August in Philadelphia, a 95mph strike to Lee Gordon of the Dodgers. Gordon would double to the power alley three pitches later for one of just two hits that Strasburg would give up in five innings. He threw 56 pitches for 40 strikes in five innings, and got four strikeouts. He’d split that up six curve balls, six change ups, and the rest fastballs, working around 95mph for his two-seam fastball and 97mph for his four-seamer. He’d retire 11 in a row between Gordon’s leadoff double, and Juan Rivera’s 2-out single in the 4th.
Strasburg’s night was about as good as the Nationals could have expected. Sadly, what followed was a bit of a debacle. Doug Slaten started the sixth to give Brad Peacock a few more warmup pitches, and found himself putting two aboard and getting just one out. With Strasburg’s win on the line, Peacock had a rough outing, giving up three hits and a walk before getting a double-play to end the sixth inning with the game tied at 3.
Peacock would get two more outs in the seventh before a 31-minute rain delay gave him the early hook. The Dodgers would go ahead off Henry Rodriguez who had a disappointing night after three solid outings against the Mets. He gave up two singles and a double to the Dodgers in the 8th before finally retiring the side, but the damage was done as the Nats would trail 5-3. Yunesky Maya completed the choke for the Nationals in the 9th as he gave up a pair on three hits and a walk in the 9th. Rodriguez drew the loss for the Nationals, while Kanley Jansen was credited with the win for the Dodgers.
The two teams face off at 7:05 tomorrow night in the third game of the series.
Notes: Brad Peacock, Atahualpa Severino, Tom Lombardozzi and Corey Brown all made their MLB debuts in tonight’s game against the Dodgers. One more and they’d have had Bingo!