Stephen Strasburg struck out 14 Pirates in his Major League debut tonight, and darn if he didn't look like the best thing since sliced bread. His fastball came in as high as 101 MPH, and while major leaguers can hit a 101 MPH fastball, they can't if it's complemented with a breaking pitch that looks like it's going to hit you in the face before swinging right back over the middle of the plate, or an 89-MPH changeup that's just about impossible to hit when it's down.
Strasburg managed to give up a couple of runs in the fourth, when Strasburg got a bit cute and threw a few too many changeups to Neil Walker and Delwyn Young--it's a great pitch, but only when it's down, and only when it's used sparingly. But other than that, the Pirates didn't look much different than UNLV did when I saw them trying to hit Strasburg last year at San Diego State. And yeah, I know--the Pirates are awful, ha ha. But they looked positively flummoxed, and in ways that I'm not sure are going to change much once Strasburg makes his way around the league a couple of times. His pitches are so nasty, and so different from each other, that the only person who can cause problems for Strasburg is himself. He struck out the last seven batters he faced. He walked no one. He threw 101 MPH. He's a beast, and he's absolutely worthy of every crazy adjective that's been thrown at him.
The atmosphere in Washington was electric, too, in ways the Nats could only have dreamed of a couple of years ago. It felt like a playoff game. Good for the Nationals, and good for baseball.