Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg took a big step in the right direction Saturday night at Triple-A Syracuse, hurling five impressive innings of one-run ball in his fifth minor league rehab start.
Strasburg was perfect through five innings before allowing two singles to open the sixth. He was then pulled, and one of those runners later scored.
The 23-year-old fanned seven of the 17 batters he faced, hitting the upper-90s with his fastball and showing improved movement on his breaking pitches. Strasburg only made it to 64 pitches, however, so it’s a near-guarantee that he will be asked to make at least one more rehab appearance.
The current plan — albeit tentative — calls for him to return to the major leagues around September 6.
Strasburg registered a 2.91 ERA and 92/17 K/BB ratio over 68 innings last season as a rookie before tearing the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. He underwent Tommy John surgery on September 3 , 2010.
With his Astros trailing the Tigers 2-1, catcher Robinson Chirinos began his at-bat in the bottom of the ninth a triple shy of the cycle. He doubled in the second inning, singled in the fourth, and hit a solo homer in the seventh. Yordan Álvarez and Yuli Gurriel both struck out, leaving the Astros’ fate in the hands of Chirinos against Joe Jiménez. After working the count to 2-1, Chirinos slapped an 85 MPH slider to the gap in right-center field. A diving Travis Demeritte could not come up with the ball, but center fielder Harold Castro fired the ball back in to Gordon Beckham, who then made a perfect throw to Dawel Lugo at third base. Chirinos was tagged out for the final out of the game. No triple, no cycle. The Astros lost 2-1.
Chirinos was attempting to become the first Astro to hit for the cycle since Brandon Barnes on July 19, 2013 against the Mariners.
The Astros entered Wednesday’s game as the largest favorite in 15 seasons, according to ESPN’s David Purdum. The Astros were -500 per Caesars Sportsbook. Other sportsbooks had them at -550. So the Tigers’ win was quite the upset.
Justin Verlander went the distance in the loss. The only blemishes on his line were solo homers to Ronny Rodríguez in the fifth and John Hicks in the ninth. They were the only hits he allowed while walking none and striking out 11.