Stephen Strasburg charged with two runs in spring debut

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Stephen Strasburg held the Astros scoreless into the third, only to give up two runs in 2 2/3 innings in his spring debut.

Strasburg struck out three and walked none. He allowed a solo homer to Chris Snyder and a double to Jordan Schafer in the third. Schafer came around to score off Tom Gorzelanny after Strasburg departed.

In all, Strasburg threw 26 of his 44 pitches for strikes.

“The biggest thing I noticed was that it was very easy for me to go out there,” he said. “My arm felt a lot stronger. It didn’t feel like it was getting tired as fast (as last year). I mean, it was pretty much a breeze. I was a little erratic at times, but I know that’s going to come with repetitions and just fine-tuning the mechanics.”

It was rather odd to see Strasburg set up to throw three innings in his first outing of the spring. Many veteran starters go just two in their debuts, and unlike all of them, Strasburg, who missed most of last year following Tommy John surgery, is dealing with a 160-inning limit for the regular season this year. It hardly makes much sense for the Nationals to put him ahead of the curve now.

Alex Bregman shows how easy it is to manufacture “controversy” in baseball

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In most sports it takes legitimate trash talk to create off-day “controversy.” In baseball, it takes the weakest sauce. We saw how weak that sauce was yesterday.

Alex Bregman and the Houston Astros are going to face off against Nate Eovaldi and the Boston Red Sox in Game 3 of the ALCS tonight. It’s worth noting that earlier this season, they hit back-to-back-to-back home runs off of Eovaldi when he was pitching for the Tampa Bay Rays.

Yesterday, in an act which was likely somewhat inspired by self-motivation, somewhat inspired by getting in Eovaldi’s head and somewhat inspired by a simple interest in having fun, Bregman took the video of those back-to-back-to-back homers off of Eovaldi and posted it to his Instagram:

Of course, since this is baseball, where even farting off-key can be construed as “showing up” the opposition or somehow disrespecting the game, it became a thing. Or at least people tried to make it become a thing.

Indeed, it took them a bit to find someone who would help them make it a thing, because Eovaldi himself didn’t care about it a bit, nor did Astros manager A.J. Hinch or Red Sox manager Alex Cora. Eventually, however, they hit pay dirt. Here’s Sox infielder Steve Pearce talking to WEEI.com:

“Wow. I don’t know why he would do that. We do our talking on the field. If he wants to run his mouth now we’ll see who is talking at the end of the series.”

My guess is that almost no one on the planet, Steve Pearce included, would care about this in a vacuum or if they allowed themselves to think through it for more than a second. Baseball culture, though — and let’s be clear about it, baseball media culture — has conditioned most of its players and participants to think that stuff like this is supposed to be controversial, so it actually takes effort not to start dancing to this kind of tune on auto-pilot.

Kudos to Hinch, Cora and Eolvaldi for exerting that effort and not dancing to it. To the press that automatically sought out comment on this and Pearce who dutifully gave it: hey, I get it. It’s hard to resist one’s conditioning. Maybe you’ll be able to resist it next time.