Swinging Bunts: Pitching Debuts

It was good to see Kevin Slowey pitch well in his major league debut Friday night in Oakland. If you slept through it, he allowed just a run on five hits in six innings pitched. He got into some trouble, but, with the help of his veteran catcher, was able to wiggle out with little damage done. The only Oakland run came on an Eric Chavez home run in the bottom of the sixth. The Twins won the game in 10 innings, which is ultimately the most encouraging stat from Slowey’s debut.

Slowey’s effort prompted me find out how other franchise pitchers have fared in their debut games.

August 2, 1907: Walter Johnson pitched eight innings against the Detroit Tigers in his first major league game. He allowed two runs on six hits and earned a no-decision. He walked one and struck out three. By all accounts, Johnson’s first game impressed Ty Cobb, who would have nothing but praise for the Big Train throughout his career.

April 15, 1954: Camilo Pascual made his debut in relief. He pitched three scoreless innings in a 6-1 Washington loss to Boston at Fenway. Pascual spent most of his first two seasons pitching in relief.

August 2, 1959: Not all debuts have been great, or even good. Jim Kaat lasted just 2 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on two hits by the eventual AL Champion White Sox. He retired the White Sox in order in the first, but ran into trouble in the third. Two of the runs he allowed were unearned due to a Zolio Versalles error, but Kaat didn’t do himself any favors by walking three men.

June 5, 1970: Bert Blyleven allowed just one run on five hits in seven innings pitched against the Washington Senators. He struck out seven, but allowed the first of his 430 major league home runs when Lee Maye took him deep in the first.

June 6, 1982: Frank Viola allowed three runs in 4 1/3 innings pitched against Baltimore. He struck out three Orioles and walked three in his debut game, a game that the Twins eventually lost in 11 innings.

June 25, 1990: Scott Erickson won his major league debut by holding the Texas Rangers to one run on four hits over six innings pitched. The Twins won the game 9-1.

April 29, 1995: In his 12-year career, Brad Radke made one appearance out of the bullpen. That relief outing occurred in his very first game. He came on in the fourth with the Twins trailing 7-3 to the Orioles. Radke allowed four runs on five hits over three innings pitched in an eventual 13-7 loss for the Twins.

April 3, 2000: Johan Santana pitched an inning of scoreless relief against Tampa Bay. The inning closed out an embarrassing opening day shutout at the hands of the lowly Devil Rays. Santana’s first start came four days later in Kansas City, where he allowed just one run in five innings pitched.

While on the subject of history (imagine that-history on this blog), Saturday night’s game in Oakland was a bit of a throwback. The 1-0 Oakland victory took just 1 hour 49 minutes to complete. The two teams combined to use just two pitchers, whose lines are below (from baseball-reference.com).

Minnesota Twins            IP     H   R  ER   BB  SO  HR    ERA   BF  Pit-Str   GB-FB  GmSc  IR-IS
C Silva, L (3-6)            8     5   1   1    1   2   0   3.86   27  101-64    14-5     69    -
Totals                      8     5   1   1    1   2   0          27  101-64    14-5          0-0 
Oakland Athletics          IP     H   R  ER   BB  SO  HR    ERA   BF  Pit-Str   GB-FB  GmSc  IR-IS
J Blanton, W (5-3)          9     3   0   0    0   6   0   3.81   30  108-76    13-8     87    -
Totals                      9     3   0   0    0   6   0          30  108-76    13-8          0-0 

It’s unfortunate that the Twins lost the game, but encouraging that Carlos Silva’s problem this year seems to be a lack of run support, not a generous helping of opposing home runs.

I noticed early that umpire Marvin Hudson’s strike zone had pinhole qualities, and it was remarkable that there was just one walk in the first few innings. The zone seemed to open up as the game went along, probably due to the fact that both pitchers were hitting it consistently.

I saw some highlights of a Pirates game this weekend. Pittsburgh is a team that has a history of some strange uniforms, but this one takes the award. Its a shame to have such a nice stadium and destroy the aesthetic by wearing red vests to play baseball. No wonder they haven’t had a winning season in 15 years.

Finally, some baby pictures!



(he’s four months old, still hasn’t seen a Twins’ win live…)


2 Responses to Swinging Bunts: Pitching Debuts

  1. Beau says:

    I actually like the solid yellow Pirates jersey, much like I enjoy the Twins’ powder blue uniforms. But those other two are hideous.

    I think uniforms have gotten pretty boring these days. I like loud and bright uniforms, but still in good taste. Everything is white, white, white. I’d like to see a bright purple team playing a bright pink team.

  2. I remember Kevin pitching well on his debut, that was a good night. How about some updated baby pictures? They must be so grown up by now!

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