US beats Netherlands 7-0
BEIJING (AP) Not even a downpour or a protest could spoil the Olympic debut of the lone college kid on the U.S. baseball team - even if he had to wait 6½ hours to finally get the win.
Stephen Strasburg carried a no-hit bid into the seventh inning and struck out 11 Thursday, helping the Americans to a 7-0, rain-shortened victory over the Netherlands. This was a welcome result for a U.S. team coming off a tough opening loss.
Strasburg, who pitches for San Diego State, said this was the longest he's had to wait for a victory.
"I just tried to go out and make quality pitches, that's it," he said. "I didn't really think about, 'Oh, I have a no hitter.'"
The game was called after eight innings following a second rain delay, the warning tracks looking more like wading pools and the outfield too soggy to continue. The Dutch protested the decision because they had loaded the bases in the ninth inning with no outs. But the protest was denied by baseball's international federation.
The players waited in their dugouts and eventually shook hands afterward. The Dutch chose to not to appeal the ruling.
"I'm glad they called it when they did," U.S. manager Davey Johnson said. "We've got Cuba tomorrow. It was the right decision. Normally we shouldn't have started (again) when we did because the mound was unpitchable and my guy got into some trouble and he was slipping and sliding. It wasn't a good situation. In the states, they wouldn't have waited over 40 minutes on the second call."
In the other morning game, the China-South Korea matchup was suspended with no score in the bottom of the sixth and will resume Sunday.
Next up for the United States is defending Olympic champion Cuba on Friday in a matchup of medal contenders.
Cuba beat Canada 7-6 Thursday in a game that started late because of the rain. Alexander Malleta and Alfredo Despaigne each homered and drove in two runs for the Cubans. Nick Weglarz went 4-for-4 for Canada with a home run and three RBIs.
In the other late game, Japan beat Taiwan 6-1 behind six solid innings from starter Hideaki Wakui, who allowed just three hits.
The Dutch (0-2) are managed by Robert Eenhoorn, an infielder who played briefly for the New York Yankees in the 1990s. The Netherlands is still looking for its first run of these games after a 5-0 loss to Taiwan on Wednesday.
"Looking at the whole game, the U.S. deserved to win," Eenhoorn said. "It's just the way the game finished was kind of weird."
Strasburg retired the first 13 batters and didn't surrender a hit until Sharnol Adriana singled sharply to right with one out in the seventh. Strasburg's manager is already comparing the right-hander to Dwight Gooden. His catcher, Lou Marson, compares him to Mark Prior.
"He had very good stuff," Adriana said.
Strasburg was backed by Matt LaPorta's three-run homer and a solo shot by Matt Brown. Jason Donald had an RBI double as the U.S. (1-1) got back on track after losing 8-7 to South Korea on a ninth-inning rally - a game that ended 13 hours before the Americans were due back on the field.
Strasburg figures to be the probable No. 1 overall pick in next year's draft. A large contingent of scouts was in the stands to see him. Strasburg, 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, struck out 23 batters for San Diego State during an April game.
"Oooh, he's special," Eenhoorn said. "If it wasn't for the first rain delay, he'd probably still be out there. We never really had a chance. He overpowered our guys."
His strikeout total Thursday was the sixth most in Olympic baseball history and the third-best performance by an American. B.J. Wallace of the U.S. has the Olympic record - 14 in 1992 and Jon Rauch had 13 in 2000, during the Americans' gold-medal run.
Strasburg walked Sidney de Jong with one out in the fifth for his first baserunner.
The game was played in an eerie darkness for a morning game, though a breeze that blew the country flags high above the center-field fence provided respite from the stifling heat and humidity. It rained fiercely starting in the top of the eighth and the umpire finally called for a delay as thunder roared.
Strasburg didn't come back out after throwing 94 pitches, and Johnson wasn't going to use him in the eighth even if he had a no-hitter going.
Several kids in ponchos leaned over the railing above the U.S. dugout throughout the storm holding an American flag along the fence.
The Americans, who had pushed another run across in the seventh when Terry Tiffee scored on Pim Walsma's wild pitch, retreated to their dugout to watch the prodigious downpour. The grounds crew scurried to get the tarp down, the fans cheering them madly all the while.