Livan Hernandez knows something about sell-out crowds, national attention and baseball hype in Washington. After all, he was on the mound for one of the most important moments in D.C. baseball history -- the return of baseball to the nation's capital in 2005.
While it's a bit of a stretch to compare that exciting moment to tonight's debut of Stephen Strasburg, there are certainly similarities. Both moments closed the book on painful memories and ushered in a new era of baseball in the district. Both brought out our highest expectations for a brighter future. Both were electric.
Hernandez reflected on those memories this afternoon. The names and faces have changed but on Tuesday, fans were looking for the same kind of renewal.
"It's very nice. I'm very happy for the young guy. We're behind him 100%," he said prior to the game.
Hernandez praised Strasburg's repertoire and composure, noting that he'd have no problems on the mound if he focused on winning the game at hand.
"It's all about the team and giving a chance to win to the team," he continued. "We're in a good situation. We're fighting everyday. We're going to try to win the division or win the Wild Card, so for the fans -- this is perfect."
Strasburg went 7 innings, struck out 14 batters, issued no walks and gave up just 2 runs. He broke the Nationals record for strikeouts in a game and tied the record for consecutive strikeouts (7). According to Elias, he was just one shy of the all-time mark of 15 strikeouts in a debut.
Most importantly, he picked up his first win for the Nationals. And it was just about perfect.