Baseball Report

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After his first two starts in the majors, Stephen Strasburg appears to be everything he was built up to be.

The Washington Nationals right-hander is 2-0 with a 2.19 ERA in his first week in the big leagues. Strasburg, the Nationals and baseball’s No. 1 pick in the 2009 draft, has 22 strikeouts to go with five walks while allowing six hits and three runs in 12.1 innings pitched.

In Sunday’s game at Cleveland, Strasburg gave up a leadoff home run to Travis Hafner, but allowed just one more hit, and walked the first five batters of his career in a 9-4 win over the Indians.

It’s been a whirlwind start to a promising career for the 21-year-old, fanning 14 batters in his debut at home against Pittsburgh, and following up with another strong outing on the road. But Strasburg is trying to keep level-headed about it.

“Just another week,” Strasburg said.

The only thing that seemed to bother the young pitcher on Sunday was the mound at Progressive Field. It had to be repaired twice due to loose dirt in the front of it. The second time, Strasburg slipped on his left foot during a delivery that resulted in a sixth-inning walk. He kicked the troublesome spot on the mound before the home plate umpire summoned the grounds crew for a patch-up job.

“Things like that are part of the game,” Strasburg said. “I wish I could have handled it a little bit better. But it’s good to experience this now. If it happens again, I’ll make the right adjustment.

“When it comes to something like that, you could slip one time and roll an ankle,” Strasburg said. “The umpires were concerned about it, and they stepped up and got it right.”

Strasburg’s debut has been one of the most-hyped and widely-anticipated in major league history. The lowly Indians drew 32,876 fans for the game, their second-largest crowd this season.

Strasburg, who throws consistently in the 90-mph range, struck out 19 batters before walking his first batter. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he’s second to Cincinnati’s Johnny Cueto (22 K’s before his first walk) in that department.

Lilly misses no-hitter: Chicago Cubs pitcher Ted Lilly went into the ninth inning with a no-hitter against the crosstown rival Chicago White Sox on Sunday night, only to have it broken up by former Cub Juan Pierre.

With a light rain falling, Lilly threw a slider to Pierre, who lined it into center field with no outs. Lilly left the game, but his one-hitter was left intact when Carlos Marmol shut down the White Sox for a 1-0 win.

The Chicago Blackhawks were honored in a pregame ceremony before the game, parading the Stanley Cup around the field.

“There was so much energy,” Lilly said. “I can’t remember that much energy…I guess it would be the 2001 World Series (with the Yankees). It was awesome, really, really, special.”

White Sox starter Gavin Floyd also had a no-hitter going into the seventh inning before Alfonso Soriano broke it up with a double. Chad Tracy followed with a single to make it 1-0.

The last time opposing pitchers went into the seventh inning with no-hitters was in 1997 with Florida’s Kevin Brown and San Francisco’s William VanLandingham.

Copyright © 2010 Bob Hurst. All Rights Reserved. Distributed by Hurst Sports Media.

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