ROCHESTER -- All the seats are sold in Frontier Field for Stephen Strasburg's appearance tonight. The Red Wings are still selling grass berm seating and expect a big walkup. Keep it here for updates and thoughts on Strasburg's outing.
Pregame: It's quite a scene here as Strasburg was trailed by photographers all the way from the third-base dugout out to left field for his stretching and long toss and then into the bullpen. There's a grass berm in the LF corner and it's crowded with people getting a look. There's standing room behind the pen and folks are crowded in both spots.
The Wings are selling Strasburg Nationals T-shirts for $19.99. Advertised them on the scoreboard too. An entire table of them in an entranceway below the press box behind home plate sold out. By the way, they sell Cal Ripken and Joe Altobelli Red Wings shirts here for $15. I really hate they're selling apparel of an opposing player. I know. I know. It's money. But they sold all their tickets to see the guy too. Now they have to grab a few more bucks? Boo.
Joe Posnanski from Sports Illustrated is in the house reporting on this one as is Dave Sheinin of the Washington Post. Posnanski, formerly of the Kansas City Star, has a must-read blog. He's also the author of a terrific book released last fall called "The Machine", about the 1975 Cincinnati Reds.
It's a blog-eat-blog world in the crowded press box tonight. The dean of IL beat writers, Jim Mandelaro of the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, is, um chronicling the proceedings at this link. Donnie Webb of the Syracuse Post-Standard is doing likewise here.
End-1st: Another 1-2-3 inning for Strasburg, who has given up one hit -- yes, one HIT -- in 13 Triple-A frames over his three starts. That makes nine straight hitless innings. He had to work a little as he threw 18 pitches, 11 strikes. He hit 99 mph three times. His first four pitches to Matt Tolbert, just down yesterday from Minnesota, were clocked at 96, 97, 98, 99. Tolbert took a called third strike on a 94-mph fastball. Trevor Plouffe grounded to third and Brian Dinkelman grounded back to the mound on an excuse-me, self-defense check-swing at a 98-mph pitch. Twelve of the pitches were clocked at 94 or higher. Pretty impressive stuff. Lots of gasps and murmurs from the crowd as the 98s and 99s hit the board.
End-2nd: Another hitless inning although Rochester left a man at third, nearly touching Strasburg for his first Triple-A run. But veteran Jacque Jones struck out swinging on a completely unfair 81-mph changeup. Strasburg walked leadoff man Jose Morales and Dustin Martin reached on an error as Eric Bruntlett's throw to second wasn't handled. But Danny Valencia bounced into a double play and Jones fanned. Through two: 37 pitches, 22 strikes, 2 Ks, 1 BB. There were a couple 98-mph pitches but plenty of others weren't registering on the left-field board and one showed up at 46. Not a good night for the radar to be on the fritz here.
In the 3rd: The crowd is pretty subdued. Maybe they don't know if they should be cheering Strasburg striking out a Wing or not. Almost like they're confused. The seating areas are packed. The berms are full and there are people standing behind the fence in deep left-center under the scoreboard. I've been coming here since 1998 and I've never seen that before.
End-3rd: Strasburg's hitless streak ended at 11 1/3 innings as Trevor Plouffe beat out a slow roller to third to put runners at the corners (Tolbert reached on a two-out walk and stole second). Brian Dunkleman struck out on a wicked changeup. Radar readings are an issue here: Folks in the tunnel area, be they team employees or overflow photographers, keep walking in front of the gun and leaving us with no readings. Not tonight, people. Jeez. We did get one 99 in that inning.
Syracuse leads, 2-0, through three (you almost forget the score because you're really only watching half the game). Strasburg through three: 1 H, 53 pitches, 31 strikes, 3 Ks, 2 BBs. That's two hits against Strasburg in 15 Triple-A frames, a slow roller up the middle by Gwinnett's Matt Blanco and the Plouffe roller. Absurd.
End-4th: Syracuse leads, 4-0. Strasburg hit harder than any other Triple-A inning. Gave up a solid single leading off to Jose Morales, a hard line drive to center by Dustin Martin and a scorching liner to third that was speared by Chase Lambin's dive. Through four: 60 pitches, 36 strikes, 2 H, 2 BB, 3 K. No runs in 16 IP in Triple-A.
End-5th: Syracuse leads, 5-0, in a much better inning as Strasburg strikes out the side around a Jason Repko single rolled up the middle. Leadoff man Brock Peterson looked particularly silly, diving out of the way of strike one, an 81-mph changeup, and getting frozen by a 79-mph hook for strike through. Through five: 74-47, 3 H, 6 K, 2 BB. That's 17 straight scoreless innings in Triple-A. We're laughing in here that Strasburg has "struggled" a little tonight. Amazing your perspective.
End-6th: Strasburg's night is apparently over as he fans two more in the inning and was airing it out up to 98 mph. When he fanned Martin to complete a 1-2-3 frame, many fans in the crowd -- especially on the side of the ballpark -- behind the Syracuse dugout, gave him steady applause and a standing ovation. Nice. Final count: 86 pitches, 56 strikes, 6 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 8 K, 2 BB. In three Triple-A outings: 18 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 21 K, 4 BB. Ridiculous.
More later. Stay tuned for audio from Strasburg's post-game presser. Off to write the print edition. Sorry, folks: No way he pitches in Buffalo June 1-2-3. The Nationals are going to call him up to start in the bigs June 4 so he can pitch twice on their homestand and get two full houses.
HOLD THE PHONE: Strasburg comes out for the 7th. He was supposed to be limited to 6 IP or 90 pitches, whichever came first. He throws six pitches, getting Danny Valencia on a 96-mph fastball for strike three and is taken out. A much bigger standing O followed by some boos as the kid walked off with no acknowledgment of the crowd. Final Final line: 6 1/3 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 9 K, 2 BB. Current Triple-A line: 18 1/3 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 22 K, 4 BB.