San Diego pitcher debuts with Washington Nationals

Stephen Strasburg debuted Tuesday night for the Washington Nationals; fans wearing Strasburg shirts were everywhere at the game
Stephen Strasburg debuted Tuesday night for the Washington Nationals; fans wearing Strasburg shirts were everywhere at the game Kitty Felde/KPCC

Washington, D.C. is pretty darned excited about a hot young pitcher from San Diego. Steven Strasburg made his major league debut last night. And he lived up to the hype.

How good can a 21-year-old rookie pitcher be?

In his first outing with the Washington Nationals, Steven Strasburg threw 14 strikeouts – seven in a row – before a standing room only crowd. The stadium was a sea of red – nearly every fan wearing a Strasburg T-shirt.

Lawyer and L.A. native Darrin Hurwitz says Strasburg fever reminds him of the 1980 debut of a 19-year-old Dodger pitcher named Fernando Valenzuela. Hurwitz says it's hard to compare anything to Fernandomania, "where it was representative of a lot of the changes in L.A. and a lot of the multicultural aspects of the city and the best of L.A."

"But in terms of the excitement over a single player," he says, "that’s what people think here. I don’t know whether Strasburg will have an MVP season his first year like Fernando, but I think people here hope that."

Strasburg got his first major league win, beating the Pirates 5-2 and pitching seven innings. His coach at San Diego State, Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, was in the stands. So were his parents and his brand new bride.

Strasburg got the rookie treatment after the game: he was pelted with three shaving crème pies during post-game interviews.

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