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Original Issue

Three Strikes

SI's senior baseball writer takes you deep inside the game. This is just a taste of what you'll get online.

1 In just his first start, Stephen Strasburg (below) gave baseball something it has needed for years, a nationwide drawing card. The Nationals drew a sellout of 40,315 for Strasburg's debut, 24,247 more than their average Tuesday-night crowd. The Indians sold 4,000 tickets for his Sunday start in Cleveland in the first 12 hours after his 14-strikeout game against Pittsburgh. The Hall of Fame asked for his hat and a game ball, and David Letterman asked him to read his Top Ten list.

2 The one time that former Mariner Yuniesky Betancourt happened to be good for Seattle actually helped cost the team a shot at Strasburg. At 59--101, the Mariners held a half-game lead over the Nationals for the worst record in baseball in 2008 and the right to pick Strasburg the next June. But Betancourt started hitting like a young Ken Griffey Jr., going 5 for 7 with two runs and two RBIs to lead Seattle to two meaningless wins over Oakland. The Nationals clinched the Strasburg sweepstakes by losing two games to the Phillies.

3Carlos Peña supplanted Aubrey Huff as Tampa Bay's alltime home run leader by hitting his 129th in a Rays uniform last Thursday. The longest-standing franchise record belongs to the Yankees and Babe Ruth, who hit his last home run for New York in 1934.