"Guido got his first strikeout and gave up his first home run, so he got them both out of the way," manager Brad Ausmus said.
Knudson recorded his first Major League strikeout to the first big league batter he faced Saturday night, then gave up his first Major League homer to the next. The same mid-90s fastball that drew a called third strike on Elvis Andrus sent Rougned Odor swinging out of his shoes, sending a no-doubt drive down the right-field line, well up the right-field seats.
"Trying to get it down and in, I think it ended up middle up," Knudson said. "For a lefty, that's in the wheelhouse. Obviously, that wasn't a good pitch, and he hit it a long way."
He came back and got two more outs, capped by another fastball and another called third strike on Ryan Strausborger. All in all, it wasn't the worst debut after spending five seasons working his way up the Tigers farm system to earn it.
"He looked pretty good," Ausmus said. "It looked like he's got a pretty good slider. It'll be tougher on righties obviously, because of the arm slot. He threw a changeup or two, but I didn't really get a good look at that. Velocity was good.
"Odor hit the ball hard, but other than that it, looked like he could be really effective, especially against right-handed hitters."
He was the most effective option for a promotion on Thursday out of a Triple-A Toledo bullpen that has had its share of ineffective relief. Knudson, a 28th-round pick out of UC-San Diego in 2011, held right-handed batters to a .180 average (24-for-133) and a .491 OPS this season, compared with a .263 average (20-for-76) from left-handed hitters.
"Overall it was an incredible experience," Knudson said of his debut, "and I'm just so blessed to have a chance to pitch here, and I'm looking forward to helping us win game in the future."
Knudson became the fourth Tigers pitcher to make his Major League debut this season, following Angel Nesbitt, Jeff Ferrell and Jose Valdez. By contrast, 13 Tigers pitchers made big league debuts last year.