A look at 5 more great postseason debuts like Mychal Givens' Wild Card Game outing for the O's
In his second season as a member of Buck Showalter's bullpen, Mychal Givens emerged as a go-to reliever for the Orioles -- and when he was called upon in Tuesday's American League Wild Card game to relieve starter Chris Tillman, he came through with 2 1/3 innings of zeros (and three strikeouts). His first pitch was perhaps the most crucial, as he induced a 5-4-3 double play off the bat of Devon Travis to kill a would-be rally in the fifth inning.
The Orioles may have lost the game, 5-2, but Givens did more than his part to keep things close in about as pressure-packed a moment as can be.
In recognition of Givens' arrival on the scene, here's a look back at five other pitchers who were particularly impressive in their first postseason appearances ...
Francisco Rodriguez, 2002
K-Rod, as he became known around the league, was a wild card for the Angels in the 2012 postseason -- and one that definitely paid off. Rodriguez (who was just 20 at the time and made the Halos' postseason roster as a mostly unknown commodity), allowed runs in his first appearance in the Angels' AL Division Series Game 1 win over the Yankees and in Game 6 of the World Series against the Giants ... but zero runs in between. Along the way, he racked up 28 strikeouts in 18 2/3 innings, posting a 0.80 WHIP and being filthy just about every time on the mound.
In fact, he tallied five wins in the Angels' World Series championship run, after having never recorded a win in his Major League career to that point. That's ... good, as was his ridiculous slider.
Tim Lincecum, 2010
After winning consecutive National League Cy Young Awards in 2008 and '09, all that was left for Tim Linecum to do was dominate in the postseason. In '10, he did exactly that for the Giants, bursting onto the scene and overwhelming the Braves by throwing a two-hit shutout in Game 1 of the NL Division Series (with 14 strikeouts, too). There really isn't much of a better debut one can have in the postseason, and it was a big part of the first of San Francisco's three titles in '10, '12 and '14.
Matt Moore, 2011
Then 22-year-old Matt Moore didn't make his Major League debut with the Rays until Sept. 14, 2011, but you wouldn't know it by the dazzling performance he threw in Game 1 of the ALDS (in just his second appearance at the Major League level, too). Facing the powerful Rangers, Moore threw seven innings of two-hit, zero-run baseball in the Rays' series-opening 9-0 victory. Not bad for a kid barely out of Triple-A.
Sonny Gray, 2013
In his rookie campaign, Vanderbilt's own Sonny Gray went 5-3 down the stretch for the AL West-winning A's and earned a slot in the team's rotation against the Tigers in the ALDS. Facing Justin Verlander, who was somewhat of a nemesis against the A's in the 2012 and '13 AL Division Series, Gray matched him nearly pitch-for-pitch in a sterling Game 2 outing. Verlander held the A's offense in check and Gray did the same against Detroit, notching eight shutout innings, striking out nine and peppering in a devastating curveball throughout the evening.
Gray and the A's may have lost the series in five games, but he proved his worth on the big stage with that strong Game 2 outing.
Brandon Finnegan, 2014
The A's and Royals staged an absolutely epic (or heartbreaking) Wild Card Game in 2014, a back-and-forth affair won by the Royals in 12 innings. It only made it that far thanks to the work of Brandon Finnegan, a lefty just months removed from Texas Christian University.
Taking over for a taxed Kansas City bullpen in the 10th inning in just his eighth Major League appearance, Finnegan threw 2 1/3 innings of relief, and though he was charged a run after departing in the top of the 12th, it didn't matter in the end. He had already made his name on the big stage.