2011: A Chiefs Odyssey – Jason’s Number 6
Along Came Polly, indeed, Michael.
#6 The Prodigal Righty Returns
On August 27th, just before noon, one man sat in the Chiefs’ players’ lounge. He was fixated on a first-person shooter video game he was playing on the flat-screen television on the wall. When greeted, he grunted a soft and short “hey.” It was clear that his attention was on his game. It wasn’t to be diverted.
Stephen Strasburg’s gaming is rather like his pitching: Worthy of the entirety of his mind and not to be interrupted.
One night in June, though, in 2010, the prodigious former Aztec was struck by the notion that control, so often, is only an illusion. A man-made structure with finite boundaries. As he flicked a changeup to Philadelphia’s Domonic Brown on August 21st, Strasburg felt a foreign and unwelcome twinge in his forearm. That twinge became just less than a year of rehabilitation. Strasburg needed Tommy John surgery.
If I crafted a pie chart of questions I was asked this season about the Chiefs, roughly half would have a giant #37 emblazoned on it. A significant amount of those questions came flowing in once Strasburg began his 30-day minor league assignment in Hagerstown on August 7th. When would we see Strasburg? Would he pitch here at all? Can he sign my left eyebrow in A1 Steak Sauce? It’d be a dream come true!
As the rehab song reached its coda, it became clear that Strasburg 2011 would be a one0night engagement. Because the Nationals wanted Strasburg to pitch only with affiliates who were at home, the schedule was the key. The Chiefs were only home for one of Strasburg’s two starts at the tail end of his rehab. So, one night was it.
And that night was truly remarkable. With nearly 10,000 in the blue seats at Alliance Bank Stadium, Stephen Strasburg provided the wizardry. The first batter was Brandon Roberts:
Strasburg struck seven batters out that night. Twice, Chase Lambin was the victim:
There’s a chance Strasburg had a little extra brimstone in his belly for the former Chief, Chase Lambin, The night before, Lambin texted Strasburg to ask how much sleep the pitcher had lost thinking about facing Lambin. Chase, don’t poke the bear.
Strasburg didn’t allow a baserunner in the first five innings. In the sixth, he was sent back out to the mound. Strasburg didn’t want to go back out and risk injury and it showed. He allowed back-to-back singles and left. Because the first of those hitters, Aaron Bates, scored to tie the game at one, Strasburg wasn’t involved in the decision.
The Chiefs won, though, on a Steve Lombardozzi RBI single in the eighth.
Kev, did we match up again? Is Strasburg 6 on your list?