The California Cannon had the heat but lacked that cool, bending curve that had frozen so many other batters who've faced him.
On Saturday, May 29, before a sweaty crowd of more than 13,000 at Alliance Bank Stadium, 21-year-old pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg was tagged with his first International League loss as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees overcame the home town Chiefs by a score of 3-2.
Over his five innings, Strasburg allowed six hits including his first and only Triple-A home-run, an opposite field solo shot by journeyman catcher Rene Rivera.
He took it philosophically. "You win some, you lose some," Strasburg told reporters after the game.
It may be a clich (c) but it's a statement with which no one can argue.
Strasburg's cannon-like right arm will soon leave the Chiefs to take aim at National League strike zones. The Chiefs parent-club, the Washington Nationals, may call for him as early as this week to start Friday, June 4, in Washington against Cincinnati.
In any case, without his services the Chiefs will regroup and set their sights on staying atop the league's North Division, rarefied air our ballplayers haven't breathed for most of the past quarter-century. Even without the California Cannon, the Chiefs remain a formidable Triple-A ballclub solidly staffed with players talented enough to make a pennant run.
Another Golden State product, hurler Collin Balester, has rejoined the team after 15 days on the phantom disabled list. Balester suffered an unenviable start, going 1-3 with a ridiculously high 11.65 ERA, but now the 23-year-old is back and, if he finds his groove, he could well reinvigorate the rotation in Strasburg's absence.
Other starters include veteran Shairon Martis and rookies Matt Chico, Jeff Mandel and Erik Arnesen. The Chiefs ace-by-default, J.D. Martin, joined the Nationals last weekend on the strength of his and his 2.97 ERA, but he could be sent back down when Strasburg goes up.