Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

Season of the pitch

Photo

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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