Strasburg solid in rain-shortened start

Delays limit Nationals prospect to 2 1/3 innings at Harrisburg

Stephen Strasburg has a 1.23 ERA through two Minor League starts. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

By Daren Smith / | April 16, 2010 9:35 PM ET

The Minor Leagues figured to present Stephen Strasburg with a variety of new experiences. Friday was a perfect example.

After waiting out a delay of nearly 2 1/2 hours, Strasburg struck out three over 2 1/3 innings before a sudden downpour ended his night -- long before the Harrisburg Senators were beaten by the New Britain Rock Cats, 2-1.

"There's going to be days when there's going to be things you don't expect to happen that happen," Strasburg told after his second Minor League start. "Obviously, you can't let that have any effect out there. You still have to go out there and do your job."

The No. 1 overall pick in last year's Draft did just that in the opening inning, needing only six pitches to send the Senators back to the dugout. He struck out leadoff hitter Ben Revere on three pitches, then retired Steve Singleton and 2009 Futures Game MVP Rene Tosoni on popouts.

"I thought he handled things extremely well, with the wait, the rain and then the blackout," Harrisburg pitching coach Randy Tomlin said. "That's what's so special about him. He kept his focus and just dealt with it. When he took the mound, he was doing good, really good."

The second inning was more of a struggle for Strasburg, who got two quick outs before Joe Benson reached on an infield hit and took second on an errant throw by third baseman Adam Fox. Juan Portes followed with an RBI double to lift the Rock Cats into a 1-1 tie before Estarlin De Los Santos struck out.

Strasburg retired Revere to begin the third before the skies opened again at Metro Bank Park, forcing another delay of nearly 45 minutes.

"There was no chance he was going back out -- any of our starters, really," Tomlin said. "It's a matter of safety first. It's too early in the season to put him at risk after a 45-plus-minute rain delay."

Strasburg was expected to throw 85 pitches over five innings but ended up at only 32. He did not reach 100 mph, as he did in his debut on Sunday at Altoona, but was clocked at 98 mph.

"It felt a lot better. It was a pretty loose outing," the 21-year-old right-hander said. "I made a few adjustments and was able to get ahead on a lot more guys. Everything felt good. Definitely something to build off of and repeat and improve on for the next outing."

Tosoni tripled home the go-ahead run in the eighth inning and the game ended just before 1 a.m. ET -- some six hours after it was supposed to begin.

Daren Smith is an editor for This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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