Stephen Strasburg fans eight in second MLB start

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strasburg first road start.jpgNationals phenom Stephen Strasburg just completed his second major league start, a strong 5.1-inning performance on the road against the Indians.

He served up a home run, just as he did in his impressive 14-strikeout debut last week.  He also walked five batters, showing a lack of control that he never once displayed while tearing through the minor leagues.  But Strasburg still flashed impressive velocity and movement, and now boasts 22 strikeouts through his first 12.1 innings of Major League Baseball.  He allowed only two hits.

Jayson Stark of ESPN.com tracked Strasburg’s fastball throughout the day and found nine pitches of 100 MPH, 31 at 98 MPH or higher and 40 at 97 MPH and above.  The 21-year-old was bringing heat yet again and departed with a 6-1 lead.  He’s in line for his second consecutive victory and will finish the day 2-0 with a 2.19 ERA if the Nats are able to hang on.

Strasburg’s arrival has not only been good for the Nationals, but also the cities he will pitch in over the remaining months of the 2010 season.  Today’s start drew 32,876 fans at Cleveland’s Progressive Field, the best crowd that stadium has seen since the Indians’ home opener.

Mark Melancon is considering surgery

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Giants’ right-hander Mark Melancon is considering surgery for an undisclosed injury, the pitcher told reporters prior to Friday’s game against the Phillies. Melancon did not divulge the exact location of the injury, but revealed that it had been plaguing him off and on since the 2012 season and was a separate issue from the right pronator strain that kept him sidelined through much of July and August. Giants’ head athletic trainer Dave Groeschner called the injury day-to-day and has not revealed a timetable for the right-hander’s return, should surgery become necessary.

Melancon, 32, has struggled to replicate the sparkling pitching line he produced with the Pirates and Nationals in 2016. He’s toting a 3.80 ERA through 25 appearances with San Francisco, flanked by a 1.1 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 23 2/3 innings. His season has been significantly shortened after multiple trips to the disabled list for a right forearm strain, and while he looked to be in line to resume his closing duties this week, the Giants will likely play it safe with the veteran righty to keep him from compromising his health in 2018.

Although the injury doesn’t appear to be severe in nature, it’s clearly intensified over the last few months. Per MLB.com’s Chris Haft, Melancon said he’s “had discomfort every day this season,” though he hopes to continue pitching through the remainder of 2017. The Giants aren’t on the verge of contending by any stretch of the imagination, but a solid end to the 2017 season could help Melancon make some headway as he looks to reclaim his status as the team’s closer next spring.

Watch: Javier Baez snares a 106-MPH ground ball

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What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object? Just ask Javier Baez, who tracked down a sizzling 106-MPH ground ball from Jose Bautista on Friday afternoon. The defensive gem helped preserve the Cubs’ three-run lead in the top of the ninth inning, paving the way for Wade Davis‘ 25th save of the season.

Baez also impressed at the plate, collecting an RBI single in the second inning before getting tagged out at home by Miguel Montero on a convoluted 9-6-3-6-2 putout. He returned in the eighth inning to pester Tim Mayza and cleared the left field hedge with a 409-foot, two-run blast for his 20th home run of the year. With the win, the Cubs improved to 64-57 and now hold a scant 1.5-game lead over the Brewers in the NL Central.