Washington Nationals Minor Leagues: Stephen Strasburg Strikes Out 11 In Syracuse’s 9-3 Win Over Pawtucket
By Ricky Keeler
In his second start since joining the triple-A Syracuse Chiefs on a rehab assignment, Stephen Strasburg looked as though he is ready to return to the big leagues. Last night, in Syracuse’s 9-3 win over the Pawtucket Red Sox, Strasburg had a great fastball and was able to use it to rack up the strikeouts as he inches closer to returning to the Washington Nationals rotation.
Over the course of 5.2 innings, the 27-year-old right-hander gave up two runs on five hits, struck out 11 batters, and walked none on 85 pitches (55 strikes). The most strikeouts that Strasburg had in a minor league game before last night was in 2011, when he struck out nine batters against Rochester (Minnesota Twins).
After the game, Syracuse pitching coach Bob Milacki told MILB.com that Strasburg’s stuff was strong and that his fastball was getting up to 98 miles per hour on the radar gun:
"“He looked really good. He was strong from start to finish. So if he’s not [ready to return], he’s very close. He said he felt strong, he said he felt good… the biggest thing is his health and how he looks and how strong he is and he was throwing 94-98 [mph] tonight; it was great”, said MIlhacki (h/t MILB.com)"
More from Nationals Prospects
- Washington Nationals Minor League Spotlight: Robert Hassell III
- Washington Nationals Tuesday Q&A
- Washington Nationals find Success in First Draft Lottery
- Washington Nationals: Non-Tendering Erick Fedde Highlights Nats’ Draft Misses
- CJ Abrams: Franchise Shortstop
Right out of the gate, the Chiefs gave Strasburg three runs after he struck out the side in the first. Trea Turner had a one out double and Jason Martinson drew a walk against Edwin Escobar. After a double steal, Kevin Keyes hit a single to score to score Turner for the Chiefs’ first run. Matt Skole would follow that up with a sacrifice fly to center to make it 2-0, Syracuse. The lead would go up to 3-0 later in the inning when Keyes scored on a Josh Johnson RBI single to center.
Despite having a 3-0 lead, Strasburg did run into trouble in the second. He gave up back-to-back singles to begin the inning. Three batters later, after back-to-back strikeouts, Mike Miller hit a line drive down the right field line for a two-run double to cut the lead to 3-2. However, Miller was caught in a rundown as he tried to advance to third base on the throw home. Strasburg gave up only two hits in the final 3.2 innings of his start.
The Chiefs would get one more run back in the bottom of the third when Skole hit a solo shot to right. His second home run in triple-A (both in Strasburg’s starts) put Syracuse ahead 4-2.
Two innings later, against reliever Robby Scott, Keyes added on another RBI when he doubled to left to score Turner, who went 3-for-4 with a double and is hitting .323 in triple-A. As for Keyes, the designated hitter went 2-for-5 with a double and RBI to boost his batting average up to .293.
The Chiefs would end up breaking the game open in the bottom of the sixth. With two outs, former Pawtucket catcher Dan Butler hit a ground-rule double, Emmanuel Burriss reached on an infield single, and Turner walked to load the bases. Then, Jason Martinson crushed a grand slam over the wall in left center. The third baseman has 18 home runs this season, which is second in the International League.
Over the final 3.1 innings, relievers Matt Grace, Sam Runion, and Rafael Martin combined to give up one run on four hits, strike out three batters, and walked one. Runion gave up the lone run in the top of the eighth on a RBI single by former Nats’ catcher Sandy Leon.