Stephen Strasburg may be the only amateur on the U.S. Olympic team, but don’t tell the Netherlands’ team.
Just 13 hours after losing their first game, Team USA (1-1) bounced back to beat the Netherlands 7-0 in a rain-shortened game, called after eight innings.
Strasburg struck out 11 and carried a no-hitter into the seventh. Sharnol Adriana broke up the no-hitter with a single in the seventh. Casey Weathers came in to throw a perfect eighth inning, striking out two.
“My guys really played good after a late night,” Team USA manager Davey Johnson said. “We came back and played real well. Mr. Strasburg did an outstanding job. We were able to get him a lead and allow him to work.”
Blaine Neal had much more trouble in the ninth, as the Netherlands loaded the bases with no out, but the downpour turned into a monsoon, leading to the game’s second rain delay. After waiting more than two hours, officials called the game. Earlier a 1-hour, 28-minute rain delay had helped ensure that Strasburg didn’t come out for the eighth. The Netherlands (0-2) protested the decision to call the game, but the protest was not upheld.
Matt Brown’s (Angels) second-inning solo home run was the only run that the U.S. needed, but Matt LaPorta (Indians), the lone U.S. starter to go hitless in the opener, added some insurance with a three-run home run in the fourth.
Shortstop Jason Donald (Phillies) who was on the bench for the opener, responded with three hits including an RBI double in his Olympic debut.
But Strasburg, a rising junior at San Diego State and the No. 1 prospect for the 2009 draft, was the story. He retired the first 13 Dutch hitters, eight via strikeout, before giving up a walk in the fifth. He retired the next seven hitters before the Dutch got their first hit, a one-out single to 36-year-old Mexican League veteran Sharnol Adriana in the seventh inning.
Strasburg finished with 11 strikeouts, the third highest total by a U.S. pitcher in Olympic play and three short of the U.S. record.
“I went out there and tried to locate the fastball down and move it inside and outside and set up my slider,” Strasburg said. “I was able to do that effectively. I just went out there and tried to compete and keep my team in the ballgame.”
Team USA has a tougher test with its next context, against Cuba, which was playing Canada on Thursday morning.