Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

Season of the pitch

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Washington Nationals rookie pitcher Stephen Strasburg throws against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the fifth inning of their National League baseball game in Washington, June 8, 2010. REUTERS/Jonathan ErnstPitchers have dominated the spotlight over the first third of Major League Baseball’s 2010 season, casting a spell over the hitters with Washington Nationals 21-year-old rookie Stephen Strasburg the latest to work his magic.

The most ballyhooed pitching prospect to hit the majors in recent memory, Strasburg satisfied the great expectations with a spectacular debut against the Pittsburgh Pirates last week.

The right-hander, who signed a record four-year, $15.1 million deal out of San Diego State University as top pick of last year’s draft, mixed his lethal arsenal of 98-mph fastball, 90-mph breaking ball, and 80-mph change-up with pinpoint control to carve up the Pirates in a 5-2 victory.

He struck out 14 and did not walk a batter in seven innings while giving up four hits. After yielding a two-run homer on a hanging breaking ball to Delwyn Young in the fourth inning, he retired 11 in a row, striking out the last seven men he faced.

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