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Stephen Strasburg, probably the greatest pitcher in the history of the SDSU Aztecs, is scheduled to pitch in San Diego for the first time as a professional tonight. He’ll be facing the Padres as a Washington National, a club that made him the first overall pick in the 2009 MLB draft.

Strasburg has been with the Nationals for parts of the last three seasons, but struggled to stay healthy before pitching in 28 games in 2012. He was an All-Star selection last year, and wound up with a 15-6 record. His pitching stats are almost identical after eight starts in 2013, with two big differences: His strikeouts are down this year and his record currently stands at 1-5.

The stats he’s put up, and his win-loss-record, mean next to nothing to the SDSU fans who will be headed to the ballpark in hopes of catching a dominating Strasburg performance. They might be Padres fans during the rest of the week, but this Thursday night there will be a large group of San Diegans cheering for every strikeout by a Padres hitter.

I’ve never been to Tony Gwynn Stadium to see an Aztecs baseball game. I’ve never seen Strasburg pitch, except on TV. Maybe this is why I feel as though I’m more concerned about the atmosphere on Thursday than most. Maybe everyone is used to half of the stadium, or more, rooting for the visiting team.

I suppose my surprise comes from knowing how many Padres fans are planning on heading downtown tonight to root for a player from the other team. That feels different from what I’ve become accustomed to as a Padres fan.

Coming off a three-game sweep by the Rays, and a two-game sweep of the Orioles, the Padres are 18-21 and within striking distance of the rest of the division. Every game is still important, and the team deserves to have a semblance of a home-field advantage when they’re playing at home.

If I were able to make it to tonight’s game, I’d be yelling in support for the home team until I lost my voice. I’d be letting them know that I care about every game, just like they do. I’d be rooting for them to score eight runs against Strasburg in the first few innings of the game. I hope there are a few people like that in attendance tonight.

I’m John Gennaro, contributor to Active Voice and managing editor of Bolts from the Blue. You can tweet me @jmglion or e-mail me directly at boltsfromtheblue@gmail.com.

John Gennaro

I'm John Gennaro, contributor to Active Voice and managing editor of Bolts from the Blue. You can tweet me @john_gennaro...

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