Before Stephen Strasburg's Major League debut earlier this month, most wondered if the bar had been set too high for the pitching phenom.
Through three starts, he's somehow managed to raise it even more himself.
Strasburg has won two of his first three starts while allowing only four earned runs on 10 hits in 19 1/3 innings. The most impressive thing of all, however, are the 32 strikeouts he has racked up in those three starts -- the most ever by a Major League pitcher in his first three games.
"That's never going to be a goal of mine," Strasburg said about the record. "My goal is to go out there and help the team win. It's about wins and losses at this level. You can go out there and strike everybody out. But at the end of the day, if you don't keep your team in striking distance, what does that all matter?"
Strasburg will be looking for his third win and a sweep for the Nats. Washington has swept only one three-game series this season, two weeks ago against the Pirates. They haven't swept an Interleague Series since June 2008 in Seattle.
To pull it off, Strasburg will have to beat a Kansas City lineup that leads the American League in batting average and has struck out the second fewest times in the AL. The bad news for the Royals? The White Sox are the only AL team with fewer K's than Kansas City, and Strasburg still punched out 10 of them.
That hasn't disheartened the Royals, who are looking forward to the challenge.
"As a group we're going to try to come up with an offensive game plan to try to put some runs up against him," said left fielder Scott Podsednik. "It'll be fun to go out and battle arguably one of the guys that they say has some of the best stuff in the league."
"I just want to wait for tomorrow and see what he's got. I can't tell you right now because I've never faced him. Just wait until tomorrow," said third baseman Alberto Callaspo.
If Strasburg's first three starts are any indication, Kansas City is probably going to need a very strong outing from Brian Bannister. Bannister has seen his ERA rocket up to 5.70 with a pair of rough starts over the last two weeks. In losses to the Reds and Braves, the right-hander surrendered a combined 16 runs (14 earned) in just seven innings. He had not allowed more than three earned runs in any of his prior five starts, all of which were wins.
Nationals: Strikeouts keep coming for Strasburg
Strasburg's 32 strikeouts are tied for the second-most among Nationals starters along with Scott Olsen. Only Livan Hernandez, with 40 punchouts, has more than Strasburg in the Washington rotation; of course, Hernandez has made 11 more starts and accumulated 73 1/3 more innings than Strasburg. The old record for strikeouts through three games was held by J.R. Richard, who struck out 29 in his first three starts for the Astros in 1971. In his fourth start, Richard was yanked after just four hitters without recording an out.
Royals: Hitting streak continues for Guillen
Jose Guillen extended his hitting streak to 17 games on Tuesday night with a second-inning single to left off Luis Atilano. Guillen is batting .358 during the stretch with a home run and nine RBIs. He has raised his batting average on the season from .244 back up to .272.
Prior to this series, the Royals were the last team the Nationals had yet to face. The franchises had not met since the then-Expos took two of three in Kansas City in 2004. ... Nationals Park is the 49th stadium in which the Royals have played a game. ... Matt Capps collected his Major League-leading 22nd save in Tuesday's 4-3 win despite allowing two runs in the ninth.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.