Strasburg is the real deal

Published 7:08 pm Tuesday, June 29, 2010

During the last several weeks I have read and heard a lot about fireballing rookie right-hander Stephen Strasburg of the Washington Nationals, and I was looking forward to kicking back in my easy chair Monday night and watching him square off against Atlanta Braves ace Tim Hudson at Atlanta’s Turner Field.

The game, and in particular the mound efforts of Strasburg and Hudson, did not disappoint.

The final score of Braves 5, Nationals 0 was very deceiving. The Braves scored all five of their runs in the seventh inning, but without an error by Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond, they probably would not have scored any.

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Third baseman Chipper Jones led off the decisive Bearcats seventh with a walk and moved to second when catcher Brian McCann lined a single to center.

First baseman Troy Glaus followed McCann and hit what appeared to be a tailor-made double play ball to short. It was bobbled by Desmond for an error, and instead of having a man on third with two outs, the bases were suddenly loaded with nobody out.

The next batter, left fielder Eric Heinske, hit a fly to center, which without the error would have been the third. Instead it was a sacrifice fly that allowed Jones to tag up and score.

Strasburg, who played for San Diego Padres Hall of Fame outfielder Tony Gwynn at San Diego State University, has a fast ball that constantly clocks between 95 and 100 miles per hour and a sharp breaking curve ball that constantly keeps batters off balance.

He is just 21 and was the No. 1 overall pick by the Nationals in the 2009 Major League Baseball first-year amateur player draft.

I have watched Major League Baseball since the 1950s when the Dodgers were still in Brooklyn and the Giants were still in New York, and I’ve seen a lot of great pitchers come and go.

I don’t want to put a jinx on anybody, but from what I saw Monday night, Strasburg has a chance to be one of the all-time greats.

Having said that, Hudson was just as great Monday night, as he matched Strasburg pitch for pitch.

As a Braves fan, I am really happy the team decided to extend Hudson’s contract and not let him become a free agent at the end of last season. He is just about a year removed from Tommy John ligament replacement surgery.

Bobby Cox, one of the greatest managers of all time, will be stepping down as Braves boss at the end of the season, and I think it would be great if the Braves, who are currently in first place in the National League Eastern Division, would give him another great championship run this season.

Getting back to Strasburg, I think he will be a dominating pitcher for years to come and I hope I am