2. Stephen Strasburg’s first career start (2010)
For the first five years of Nationals Park, Stephen Strasburg’s debut was probably the most boisterous crowd in stadium history. In 2010, the Nats averaged less than 23,000 fans per game. But for Strasburg, over 40,000 fans crammed into the ballpark for a first-hand look at the savior of D.C. baseball. And the young righty did not disappoint.
After setting down the first two batters of the game, Strasburg went up 0-2 on former Nat Lastings Milledge. With the crowd on their feet, hungry for the K, Strasburg forced Milledge to whiff at his curveball, and the fans boomed.
Strasburg kept rocking from there, setting down nine of the first 10 batters he faced, six via strikeout. For a June game, the stadium had an October buzz, the fans rising with each out as they looked for any opportunity to roar. Strasburg ran into some trouble in the fourth inning when Delwyn Young popped him for a two-run homer, but stayed composed and got stronger from there. He finished the night by striking out his last seven batters, giving him 14 for the game, then a franchise-record (since broken by Max Scherzer).
Strasburg went seven innings and allowed just four hits, two runs, and no walks, en route to one of the finest debuts in baseball history. “He pitched probably the best game I’ve ever seen pitched,” first baseman Adam Dunn said after the game.
After years of sloppy, starless baseball, the Nationals were finally the toast of the majors.