|Photo by USA Today|
Stephen Strasburg took the mound on Sunday evening looking to shake off a rocky bullpen session where he didn’t feel he had his best stuff. His catcher, Wilson Ramos, even agreed, calling it a “struggle.”
In the second inning he tweaked his groin and saw trainer Lee Kuntz and pitching coach Steve McCatty meet him at the mound. After seeing Strasburg stumble off the rubber and wince, Ramos thought he would soon leave the game.
And in the fifth inning Strasburg took a 87 mile per hour fastball off his right forearm on a bunt attempt. He stepped out of the batter’s box shaking his wrist to relieve the pain.
But somehow through a variety of obstacles, Strasburg emerged on Sunday with the first complete game of his career and a 6-0 shutout of the Philadelphia Phillies. He struck out ten with just one walk in a true masterpiece, his best outing yet in four MLB seasons. In the ninth and with the shutout near, the crowd of 32,355 gave him a standing ovation and chants of ‘let’s go Strasburg,’ bringing back memories of his historic professional debut.
While the fastball off his arm may have just plain hurt, the sore groin and bad warmup session might have been blessings in disguise. Not having his best stuff, for instance, helped Strasburg get locked in. He needed only eight pitches in the first inning and all were strikes.