Well, it’s here kids. The most anticipated debut in the last 25 years of baseball is upon us. Washington Nationals’ RHP Stephen Strasburg makes his major league debut tonight against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

This live blog will go as long as Strasburg is on the mound.

Here is the lineup Strasburg will be facing:

1. Andrew McCutchen, CF

2. Neil Walker, 2B

3. Lastings Milledge, LF

4. Garrett Jones, 1B

5. Delwyn Young, RF

6. Andy LaRoche, 3B

7. Ronny Cedeno, SS

8. Jason Jaramillo, C

9. Jeff Karstens, P

Bottom 1st

Well, it’s an absolutely beautiful night in DC, and, as predicted, the Nationals have sold out the building. It’s unbelievable the impact one player can have. If Strasburg wasn’t pitching tonight, there would be 10 people at this game.

It’s 7:05 and we are ready to play ball.

First pitch of the Strasburg era is a ball inside. Second pitch is a 98 mph fastball outside.

On 2-0, McCutchen rips one to short to Ian Desmond for out No. 1. That ball was a pea to short.

First pitch to Walker is a wicked curve right down the middle, but it is called a ball. I hope that home plate umpire Tom Hallion is not trying to squeeze Strasburg in order to “teach him a lesson.” That would suck out loud.

Two batters—two 2-0 counts. He needs to get ahead of the hitters in order to be successful in the majors.

On a 3-1 pitch, Walker grounds to Adam Dunn for the second out. Strasburg’s fastball has been around 94-98 so far.

Strasburg gets ahead of Milledge 0-1 on a tailing 94 mph fastball that gets the inside corner. Second pitch is a knee-bending curve for strike two. That was sweet.

Strasburg whiffs Milledge on a hook down and away for his first major league strikeout.

Strasburg’s curve was off the charts that inning.

After one—zero hits, zero runs, and one K

Top 2nd

Strasburg throws his first change of the game. 84 mph low and in to Jones.

Boy, Tom Hallion is having a rough night behind the plate so far, and it’s only the top of the second. Strasburg throws a 98 mph fastball right down the middle that’s called a ball. That ball call might have been worse than the missed strike call in the first.

It’s pretty clear that the Pirate hitters are having a tough time catching up to Strasburg’s fastball. On a 3-1 count, Jones couldn’t catch up to a 98 mph heater.

Jones down on strikes on a 98 mph on the outside corner. That fastball had good running movement on it.

Next up is Delwyn Young. Young sees two “changeups” that are 88 and 90 mph. That is Nolan Ryan-esque. On a 2-2 count Strasburg throws an unhittable curve that seemingly broke twice on Young. It broke down then in to the lefty. Shades of Bert Blyleven.

You can tell right now Strasburg is starting to get into a groove and feel more comfortable on the mound.

LaRoche is three for his last 23. I don’t like his chances here.

And The Ghost of Moonlight Graham jinx lives on. LaRoche serves a 1-1 fastball to right for the first hit off of Strasburg tonight. I will shut up now.

With Strasburg pitching from the stretch for the first time, Rob Dibble (Nationals’ analyst) points out that Strasburg takes his last warm-up pitch out of the stretch, which Dibble was taught to do in the Cincinnati Reds’ organization. Note to Dibble—every pitching coach teaches that at every level.

Strasburg gets ahead of Cedeno 1-2. Strasburg gets Cedeno swinging on perhaps his best changeup so far. It was 91 with a nice downward action to it.

Through two in DC, one hit, no runs, and four K’s.

Top 3rd

Jason Jaramillo leads things off in the third, and the first pitch he sees is a 100 mph fastball. First time Strasburg has 100 tonight. Jaramillo has no chance up there.

After the count evens at 1-1, Strasburg throws two straight curves to whiff Jaramillo. That’s five straight K’s for Strasburg.

Make that six straight K’s. Karstens’ AB was comical at best. If you asked Karstens what would you rather do right now—get hit over the head with a hot mop or face Strasburg—he would have picked the hot mop in a cocaine addict’s heartbeat.

McCutchen looks to be the only one who has a grip on how to handle Strasburg. McCutchen hits a hard one-hopper to third that Ryan Zimmerman handles. His throw was a little wide to first, but Dunn was able to tag McCutchen.

That is three innings in the books and one hit, no runs and six K’s.

Top 4th

By the way, not to be understated is the fact that Ivan Rodriguez is back behind the plate for the Nationals. I think it is important that Strasburg has a professional and experienced catcher behind the plate.

Strasburg has faced 10 batters and thrown first pitch strikes to six of them. That’s 60 percent—not too bad.

Walker singles to right on what you could perhaps call a hanger by Strasburg. That is just the second hit for the Pirates.

Two batters and two hits for the Pirates. Strasburg fell behind to Milledge 2-1 and Milledge got a fastball he could handle. He rips one to right for a single.

For the first time Strasburg is in a little trouble.

After getting into a groove in the second and third innings, Strasburg is trying to feel his way around in the fourth. He is now 3-2 to Jones. And Strasburg gets every pitcher’s best friend—a 6-4-3 double play.

It was a great pitch by Strasburg to induce the twin killing. It was a 98 mph fastball on the outside corner that broke Jones’ bat.

On the second pitch to Young, Young smacks a two-run HR to right. Why throw Young a changeup there? All you are doing is helping him out.Terrible pitch selection by Pudge and poor execution by Strasburg.

LaRoche pops up to second to end the inning.

Four innings, four hits, two runs, and six K’s for Strasburg.

Top Five

The one thing I will say about Strasburg is the man works quickly out there. He gets the ball and fires.

I think Strasburg is done mixing it up with these hitters. Four pitches to Cedeno and four 95-plus mph fastballs. Strikeout number seven for Strasburg.

I don’t think I have seen a position player look as hopeless against a pitcher as Jaramillo looks against Strasburg. Two pitches, two fastballs, and Jaramillo didn’t have a chance against either. If Pudge calls anything but a fastball, I will lose my mind.

Of course after missing on the outside corner with a fastball, Pudge calls a curveball. Really? Jaramillo did ground out weakly to second, but Pudge did him a favor.

Up comes Karstens and he is calling for the hot mop. Poor guy. Karstens goes down on strikes.

Strasburg as been as good as advertised so far. Five innings, four hits, two runs, and eight K’s.

Top sixth

We head to the sixth, and oh by the way, the Nationals are losing 2-1. Can we get some run support for the kid?

McCutchen to lead off the inning and he is quickly down 0-2. Strasburg’s curve tonight has been very good. Usually around 80 mph with a big break.

Strasburg gets McCutchen on a change for the first out of the inning and his ninth K.

Strasburg and Pudge are really working quickly this inning. I love it.

Three pitches and Walker is gone on strikes. The last pitch was a 101 mph fastball at Walker’s eyes. That is unhittable.

Strasburg is snapping off something fierce to Milledge. Three curves to Milledge and he is sent back to the dugout.

Outside of the fourth inning, Strasburg has been very, very good tonight.

Six innings, four hits, two runs, and 11 K’s. Still no walks. Impressive.

Top Seven

In the bottom of the sixth, the Nationals were able to push three runs across and now lead 4-2. Not only has Strasburg been uber-impressive so far, but he is now in line for a W.

Strasburg just threw a 96 mph heater at Jones’ ribs. I would have crapped my pants. After throwing 96 at his ribs, he throws an 81 mph bender to K Jones. Strikeout No. 12 for Strasburg.

13 K’s for Strasburg. Three 96 mph fastballs to Young. That is what he should have done in the fourth.

Three pitches to LaRochet—two knee-buckling curves and then a 95 letter-high fastball to K him. 14 K’s for Strasburg.

This Nationals crowd is electric. I never thought I would say that. It’s a playoff atmosphere in DC.

Well, with Willie Harris pinch-hitting for Strasburg in the seventh, that ends Strasburg’s night.

Seven innings, four hits, two runs, and 14 K’s.

I think it is safe to say that Strasburg lived up to the hype. 94 pitches, 65 strikes, a fastball that topped out at 103, a curve that was around 80 all night, and a change that was 90-91.

What a great night for Washington.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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