Nationals 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.
Christian Yelich simply can’t be stopped. The Brewers outfielder (and defending NL MVP) entered Saturday’s game with a league-leading 11 home runs after swatting two against the Dodgers on Friday night, then clubbed another two homers in the first six innings of Saturday’s game.
The first came on a 2-1 pitch from the Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu, who lobbed a changeup toward the bottom of the strike zone before it was lifted up and out to center field for a solo home run in the third inning.
While Chase Anderson and Alex Claudio held down the fort against the Dodgers’ lineup, Yelich prepared for his second blast in the sixth inning — this one a 421-foot double-decker on a first-pitch curveball from Ryu.
Yelich’s 13 home runs not only gave him a stronger grip on the league’s leaderboard, but helped him tie yet another franchise record, too. Per MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy, he’s tied with Prince Fielder for the most home runs hit by a Brewers player in a single month, and sits just one home run shy of tying Álex Rodríguez’s 2007 record for most home runs hit within any club’s first 22 games of the season.
It may be far too early to predict which players will finish first in the MVP races this fall, but there’s no denying Yelich has already set himself apart from the competition. Through Saturday’s performance, he’s batting .361/.459/.880 with a 1.329 OPS and MLB-best 31 RBI across 98 PA so far.