DENVER -- They sat in row 25 behind home plate, raising cell phones in the air every time Freddy Peralta emerged from the Brewers dugout. Until this overcast Sunday at Coors Field, Peralta's family had never seen him pitch as a professional. They captured every moment.
And there was plenty to capture.
The Brewers' No. 9 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, was dazzling in a 13-strikeout Major League debut with essentially one weapon -- a moving four-seam fastball he threw for 90 of his 98 pitches. Peralta became the first pitcher since Matt Harvey in 2012 to log double-digit strikeouts in his first Major League start and the most since Stephen Strasburg fanned 14 in '10, on the way to 13 strikeouts in 5 2/3 scoreless innings of a 7-3 win over the Rockies.
According to Baseball Reference, Peralta is the fifth pitcher since 1908 to strike out 13 or more batters in his Major League debut, with Stephen Strasburg (14 strikeouts in 2010), J.R. Richard (15 in 1971), Karl Spooner (15 in 1954 and Cliff Melton (13 in 1937).
All after beginning his career in a 3-and-0 hole against Rockies leadoff man DJ LeMahieu.
"He got his nerves out the first three pitches of the game," said Brewers manager Craig Counsell. "And then it just kept getting better."
At 21 years old, Peralta was the youngest Brewers starter since Yovani Gallardo in 2007. He didn't allow a baserunner until Travis Shaw booted a routine grounder with one out in the third inning, as Peralta went on to walk a pair of batters before he retired Charlie Blackmon on another grounder to Shaw to end the threat. Peralta didn't surrender a hit until David Dahl's single with one out in the sixth.
Twice in the first four innings, Peralta struck out the heart of the Rockies' lineup -- Nolan Arenado, Carlos Gonzalez and Trevor Story -- in order. When he whiffed LeMahieu leading off the sixth inning, Peralta matched Steve Woodard's franchise record for strikeouts in a Major League debut.
The next batter, Dahl, lined a clean single to right-center field for the Rockies' first hit. But Peralta bounced back to strike out Blackmon for strikeout No. 13, a Brewers' rookie record. That's where Counsell tapped his bullpen with a 7-0 lead.
As he walked off the field, Peralta said he was thinking, "Oh my God, I did it. I did it. I'm here. I almost started to cry. Almost."
That feeling was going around. Big Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar looked up into the stands and saw Peralta's parents. Father, Pedro, was crying. Mom Octavia Diaz was doing her best to hold her composure.
Aguilar started to tear up himself.
"I almost cried," Aguilar said. "I'm so happy, so proud. I was talking with [Brewers catcher Manny] Pina, like, 'Pina, let's cry.' Why not? I was close. I'm telling you."
Up in row 25, Peralta's mother, father, girlfriend Maritza Taveras and other family members stood and cheered. They expected to watch Peralta pitch Saturday night at Triple-A Colorado Springs, but he was scratched at the last minute when Brewers starter Chase Anderson fell ill.
Instead of watching him work in the Minors, Peralta's family traveled up Interstate 25 for his Major League debut.
"It's something so great. It's so special. It's something I can't even put into words," said Diaz, who fought tears during a Mother's Day interview in Spanish with FS Wisconsin sideline reporter Sophia Minnaert. "It's one of the most important things that has happened to me in my life, just the feeling of being here and seeing him pitch for the very first time."
She was not alone in showing emotion. Peralta's father, Pedro, cries every time he watches Internet broadcasts of Peralta's Minor League outings.
Yes, he shed more tears on Sunday watching his son pitch in person.
Earlier Sunday, the Brewers were trying to keep emotions at a minimum as Peralta prepped for his debut. Instead of the usual hour-long meeting to go over opposing hitters, catcher Manny Pina and pitching coach Derek Johnson kept things simple.
"I showed him the lineup, but I don't want to give him a lot of 'this, this this,'" Pina said. "That's the problem sometimes. I don't want to give too much."
Instead, Pina told Peralta, "Trust what you do."
"The most important thing is you just be yourself," Counsell said. "Just do what he's good at. That's how he got here, and that's how you have success here. That's always the game plan. Do what you're good at, and hopefully that's enough. It should be enough.
"He's no different than anyone else who's made his big league debut. There's nerves, there's excitement. You hope you can use it to do something special. If you got to the big leagues at 21, you've already done special things."