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But fans slipped into Nationals Park as the Strasburg-shaped hole in the weather settled over Nationals Park.

Sure, the bleachers looked like the ninth-inning leftovers of a blowout. But Strasburg’s fastball touched 99 mph. And you could see glimpses of the pitcher who debuted last June with postcard weather and 14 strikeouts.

The crowd rallied, as Strasburg sliced through the Dodgers‘ lineup over five innings. The diving changeup to strikeout Matt Kemp. Roars. The 97 mph fastball Justin Sellers popped to Ryan Zimmerman in foul territory with supporters on their feet to end Strasburg’s stint.

Drizzle returned as he walked off the mound, into a handshake from Johnson.

As Strasburg left, everything else felt distant: the raw night, the empty seats, the scar from the surgery that repaired his right elbow. One thing mattered. He was back.