Ugh, bad start. Steven Strasburg gets the Bucs 1-2-3, surviving a bullet off Andrew McCutchen's bat and whiffing Lastings Milledge with a couple of hooks for his first pro K. Jeff Karstens gave up a two-out homer by Ryan Zimmerman, and the crowd was ready to rock 'n' roll.
And it got worse. SS struck out the side in the second, interrupted only by an Andy LaRoche single. He's devastating with two strikes; he uses his heater, curve, and changeup as equal opportunity punchout pitches.
After three innings, the Next Big Thing had six strikeouts. Still, it's just 1-0 after three frames; Karstens wasn't mailing it in.
In the fourth, the adrenaline began to wear off, and the Bucs got on the board. Neil Walker and Milledge started the inning with singles, but Garrett Jones rolled into a broken-bat DP. No problem; Delwyn Young took a change-up into the seats, and the Pirates were up 2-1.
The Nats tried to tie it in their half, but Milledge would have none of it. After muffing a DP ball followed by a hit-and-run single, there were runners on the corner with one away. A liner to medium left was gloved by Milledge, and his throw was on the money to nail the tagging Josh Willingham.
In the sixth, Karsten's golden carriage turned into a pumpkin. He left everything up over the belt, and a Ryan Zimmerman single was followed by back-to-back bombs by Adam Dunn and Willingham.
Karstens was shown the door after five frames, with a line of four runs on nine hits (3 went yard), and Evan Meek calmed the inning down, and got them 1-2-3 in the seventh, too.
The Washington Kid didn't need any more; he had seven straight K's and fourteen strikeouts overall after seven innings. That's when he left, yielding two runs on four hits and no walks after 94 pitches and having struck out every batter in the order at least once. Pretty sweet debut, hey?
One thing's for sure: you have to be aggressive against Strasburg. If he gets a batter in a two strike hole, his arsenal and velocity put him at his mercy; all his pitches have great movement and are on top of the hitter in a hurry.
The Nats added an insurance run in the eighth off Javier Lopez with a pair of lead-off, excuse me flare singles to the opposite field and a walk. The run came in on a slow hopper to Neil Walker, who opted to take a DP instead of a close play at home.
The choice would prove immaterial; the Bucs fizzled in the ninth, and the final was 5-2. Just another day of humiliation, except this time on national TV.
Strasburg showed dynamite stuff, but the Pirates line of two runs on five hits isn't really anything out of the ordinary for them. Heck, Tyler Clippard and Matt Capps added three more Ks to the list; Pittsburgh whiffed seventeen times.
Tomorrow, Livian Hernadez takes on ...who? It's Zach Duke's turn; we'll see if he gets that extra promised day of rest or not. We suspect it's Brad Lincoln's day in the sun.
-- Ryan Doumit is out with concession-like symptoms; he took a nasty foul off the mask on Sunday. Ditto for Bobby Crosby, who has a virus, as does Ryan Church, who is just getting over a bug and can at least pinch-hit.
-- Charlie Morton made his first rehab start at Indy. He lasted 3-2/3 innings, giving up five runs (two earned) on six hits with two walks and three Ks. And speaking of guys down on the farm, Brandon Moss is hitting just .233 for the Indians.