HARRISBURG, Pa. - Stephen Strasburg breezed through the Double-A Portland lineup in the first inning of his Thursday night rehab start for the Harrisburg Senators, dispatching the Boston Red Sox farmhands in order and needing only 11 pitches to do so. Nine of those pitches were for strikes
Leadoff hitter Ryan Khoury looked at a 96 mph fastball on the game's first pitch, then Strasburg took something off his offerings, finally getting him to swing at a third-strike changeup that the stadium radar gun clocked at 79 mph. Khoury was fooled badly on the pitch.
Strasburg threw seven straight strikes - getting Alex Hassan to bounce out - before he threw a 99 mph ball to Oscar Tejeda on a pitch that most of the fans in attendance at Metro Bank Park throught was a strike. Tejeda worked the count to 2-2 before grounding out.
Strasburg was consistently hitting 96-98 mph with his fastball, and I'm told the radar gun here is pretty accurate, usually within 1 mph of reality.
Second inning update: Through two innings, Strasburg has thrown 24 pitches, 18 for strikes. He's moving the ball in and out, up and down, mixing in an occasional changeup or curve to set up his bread-and-butter hard stuff. The first hitter in the second inning, Sea Dogs cleanup man Mark Wagner, made contact on a 1-1 pitch, lining out to left on a 1-1 pitch. Reynoldo Rodriguez fanned on four pitches ( a drop from 96 mph to 78 mph made him look silly) and Jeremy Hazelbaker grounded out on a 2-2 offering.
Third inning update: After a Leonard Davis RBI single gave Harrisburg a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second, Strasburg sat Portland down in order. He needed only 11 pitches and nine went for strikes, so through three innings, he's yet to allow a hit and thrown 35 pitches, 27 for strikes. All three hitters in the third made contact after looking at a called first strike - Dan Butler grounded to short, Mitch Dening popped to left and Ryan Dent lined to right-center. Strasburg continues to rely mostly on his fastball, but is spotting in his curve and changeup. The more efficient he is, the longer he'll last - right now, Strasburg is expected to go five innings or 80 pitches, so a sixth inning is a possibility given how effortless he's been through three.