Stephen Strasburg allowed three runs and six hits in five-plus innings, gave up a home run and even balked in his first pedestrian outing since being promoted to Triple A Syracuse by the Washington Nationals.
"He's human," Chiefs manager Trent Jewett said of baseball's top pitching prospect.
Strasburg didn't seem that way during his first four Triple A starts, when he went 3-0 with a 0.39 ERA in 23 1/3 innings.
Facing the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees Saturday night, Strasburg suffered his first Triple-A loss as the Yankees edged the Chiefs 3-2 before 13,115 fans on Little League Night at Alliance Bank Stadium.
"You win some and you lose some," Strasburg said. "I'm not chalking it up as getting pushed back. They beat me today. It happens."
Strasburg surrendered a solo homer to Rene Rivera in the third inning, and committed his first balk in 50 1/3 minor league innings this season.
Strasburg left the game with the bases loaded, nobody out and a 2-1 lead in the sixth inning. Scranton scored two runs later in the inning that were charged to Strasburg.
Strasburg was the No. 1 pick in last year's draft by the Nationals. It was reported earlier this week that the Nationals will promote Strasburg for their June 8-10 series against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Washington. If so, Strasburg will make one more start for Syracuse, either June 3 at Buffalo or June 4 against Durham in Syracuse.
In five Triple A starts, Strasburg is 3-1 with a 1.27 ERA, six walks and 33 strikeouts in 28 1-3 innings. In 10 minor league starts, including five at Double A Harrisburg, he's 6-2 with a 1.43 ERA, 12 walks and 60 strikeouts.
"All in all, I was pleased with him (Saturday)," Jewett said. "He did his job."
Strasburg faced the minimum six batters through the first two innings. But Rivera opened the third inning by running the count to 3-2 and blasting a 99-mph fastball about 400 feet over the right-center field fence.
Rivera hit three home runs in 150 major-league at-bats with the Seattle Mariners from 2004-06.
"The kid throws hard," Rivera said. "I wasn't expecting to hit a home run. He has the best stuff I've ever seen in the minor leagues."
Strasburg settled down after Rivera's home run and struck out the side in the fifth inning. But Reegie Corona opened the sixth with an infield single, and Eduardo Nunez grounded a single into left field.
"I got two ground balls (in the sixth) and as a pitcher that's all you can hope for is getting ground balls," Strasburg said. "They hit it where we weren't and that's baseball."
With a 2-1 count on Jon Weber, who had singled and walked in his first two at-bats, Strasburg threw a wicked curveball that home plate umpire John Conrad called a strike. Weber disagreed, and was ejected with a 2-2 count.
Jeff Natale pinch hit for Weber and took a curve ball for a ball to make the count 3-2. With runners at first and second, Strasburg twitched while in the stretch position and was called for the balk. He then walked Natale and Jewett summoned reliever Josh Wilkie.
Jewett said he removed Strasburg because of a combination of his pitch count (86, 54 for strikes) and the situation. Strasburg left to a standing ovation.