Last Night In Woodbridge

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Believe the hype.

It’s not often that I can say a rehab start isn’t overrated. Usually, they’re a disappointment. Not this time. This was everything anyone could have possibly hoped for, perhaps even more.

In thirty-three pitches over three innings, Stephen Strasburg gave nine Myrtle Beach Pelicans batters a story to tell their children and grandchildren about the time they faced him. I know that because I had the pleasure of hearing a former minor-leaguer tell me about what it was like to face Dwight Gooden, a should-have-been Hall-of-Famer.

Two of them will boast that they got a hit, conveniently leaving out the part that the ball never left the infield, a byproduct of how hard Strasburg throws as they drove the ball into the dirt in front of home plate to produce a 30-foot hop that gave them time enough to beat the throw.

Four of them might be honest enough to say “Strasburg struck me out and I never had a chance,” like Vince DiFazio (pictured above) and maybe Leury Garcia will tell them “He got me twice.”

Strasburg threw mostly fastballs, hitting 96 to 99 m.p.h. on the scoreboard gun that was actually only juiced one or two m.p.h. This was the first time that was done this season, and of course, it was only done for Strasburg. Same goes for the four armed guards (I believe they were PWC officers) that were stationed along the home dugout, the first-base field boxes, and the bullpen.

But he also tossed a couple of curves and changeups that batters at this level just simply can’t adjust to on the fly, much like the guys three levels up in the National League. Twenty-six of the 33 pitches went for strikes and no batted ball left the infield in fair territory.

The announced attendance of 8,619 was the largest non-firework crowd at the Pfitz, according to Mark Zuckerman, who was stationed in the “press row” of the backless reserved seats below the press box, which rarely has more reporters than radio guys, never mind last night’s contingent. (If you’re reading, Mark, I was the guy wearing a red Nats cap in the field boxes below you 😉

To their credit, the crowd didn’t disperse en masse when Strasburg left. And those that stayed got to see a pretty good ballgame, which, now I’ll tell you about quickly…

Evan Bronson followed Strasburg on the mound and despite throwing a wee bit softer, got similar results. He threw four scoreless innings and allowed three hits, but walked none and struck out two.

Meanwhile, the Myrtle Beach pitchers were up to the task of keeping their hitters in the game by keeping Potomac off the board. The P-Nats had baserunners in seven of the eight innings they came to bat, but were denied until the 6th.

With one out, Destin Hood tapped a grounder to deep short for an infield hit and took second when the throw went into the Potomac dugout. After a grounder to short, Archie Gilbert delivered the lone run of the game with an RBI single to left that sent in Hood.

Josh Smoker took the ball from Bronson in the 8th and retired the two- and three-hole hitters before giving up a single. Matt LeCroy called on Hector Nelo to face the next batter, the 25-year-old veteran catcher DiFazio. Nelo stranded Smoker’s runner with an infield popup.

Hood led off the bottom of the 8th with a single to right (his third in a 3-for-4 night) and Brian Peacock followed suit with a single to left. But like any 1-0 game, the Pelican defense got the key DP that it needed to prevent the insurance run, getting Gilbert on a sharp 6-4-3 sequence and popping up Steve Souza to end the 8th.

Nelo, who throws two kinds of fastballs (hard and hit-the-bull), nailed down the game with a little panache. He struck out the first batter looking, gave up an infield single that he might have fielded but followed the coaching that says let the infielders get it, then induced a liner to Souza who applied the tag on the runner for the game-ending double play.

Bronson got the win (#4), Smoker the hold (#5), and Nelo the save (#15) as Potomac kept pace with Frederick in the Carolina League north and got game back as Lynchburg lost to fall to five games behind Potomac, reducing the magic number to 19.

Paul Demny (7-10, 4.94) gets the start tonight in game three of the four-game series, opposed by Kennil Gomez (2-2, 3.65).

Author: Luke Erickson

Since 2009, Luke Erickson has been chief writer, editor, and bottle-washer of Potomac is his home base as a season-ticket holder, but he has visited every affiliate north of Florida at least once, with multiple trips to Hagerstown and Harrisburg.

16 thoughts on “Last Night In Woodbridge”

  1. For someone who is at the games everynight Sue you sure aren’t very observant. The only seats in the stadium without backs are the bleachers not the reserved. Tonight when you are there turn around and take a good look.

    1. Actually, they’re not seats, either, but benches but thanks for picking that nit. Also, “every night” is two words, not one.

  2. Thanks for the great recap(s), Sue.

    Anyway for me to block certain posters so I can avoid wasting time on sophomoric posts?

    1. If I could develop that app or plug-in like that, I’d have to quit the site and figure out what to do with that kind of money 😉

    2. Hey, look at it this way – he’s learned to play another note (bust on Silber, now bust on Sue_D). He’s learning / evolving.

      1. Block posters? Evolving? I’ll tell you what, why don’t you “experts” come on down to the stadium and meet up with me and Get42 and some of our cohorts who have been insulted on this site, and then let us see if you are so bold with your insults in person. It’s a public site and everyone has a right to their opinion. Get42 does not need to evolve; the only one that needs to evolve is an idiot that thinks he is better than someone else. Read the First Amendment, you jackass.

        1. If I can channel Mr. Oliver for a moment, let’s try to keep this civil. And I’m fully aware of the irony/hypocrisy in so doing because I was an instigator there on more than one occasion.

          RebelliousOne1 and Get42 do indeed have the right to their opinions, and while I believe BinM’s rebuke to be relatively mild, let’s keep the focus on players and the organization whenever we can.

          Get42 may irk me some (c’mon, 761 words and you have to get on me about a throwaway line about how the press was being treated?), but I know he cares about this team and its players every bit as much as I do, if not more.

          Last night was one for the ages, so let’s not spoil it by getting catty in the comments. Please?

        2. Dude, if you have such a problem with Sue and other commentors DONT READ THE SITE! Its not the hard, no one is forcing you to read the comments and everything else on this site.

          Also talk about internet tuff guy

          1. Was mean to be a reply to RebelliousOne1.

            So one hell night last night.

            Stras pitching 2 innings, Harper walk off blast, and the nats beat the phillies!

        3. RebOne: You, Get42 & others post comments, sometimes negative in tone (as is your right), and some of us reply in a somewhat snarky tone. It’s a blog – that kind of stuff happens all the time across the web.

          There really seems to be no need to get either confrontational or abusive, in particular over a couple of mild tweaks at a third party on a blog.

  3. As for the armed guards, yes they were uniformed members of PWC police. Once SS finished his wrap up bullpen session, they worked to set & man a roped off area around the press room that was surrounded by a swarm of autograph hounds.

    Bronson benefitted from following SS, imo. The Myrtle Beach hitters’ timing was a mess by the 4th, and not even the double by Prince was hit particularily hard.

  4. Rizzo was talking about SS needing to play home games this month to keep control of everything. I thought he was being overcontrolling, but my bad, sounds a lot like the carnival came to town.

    My condolences to all the regulars who went to the game and didn’t win the jersey.

    1. While it wasn’t quite a carnival, it was a little out of the ordinary for the phitz. At least it was an interesting game beyond the SS appearance.

      The tchotschkes / trinkets are swell for those who seek them, but I’m at a stadium to see a game. If I happen to get something extra for being there, great.

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