After long wait, Brigham dazzles in debut
Right-hander delivers three scoreless frames, strikes out four
ATLANTA -- Few can understand all that Jake Brigham has experienced while spending the past nine years toiling in the Minor Leagues. But those who were aware of his long journey had no choice but to be thrilled with what he accomplished as he completed three scoreless innings while making his Major League debut for the Braves during Tuesday night's 6-1 loss to the Nationals.
"This was more than I could have ever imagined," Brigham said. "I hate that we lost because I'm walking around with a smile. But it was amazing and just a thrill."
Once Atlanta's starting pitcher Shelby Miller exited after five innings, Brigham was given the assignment to keep the score respectable and prevent the Braves from over-taxing their bullpen while playing the first of 13 consecutive days. The 27-year-old right-hander succeeded as he surrendered just one hit and recorded four strikeouts.
"He really did a nice job, I'm really excited for him," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He was the MVP of the game."
The Braves signed Brigham to a Minor League contract this past offseason per the recommendation of Mark Connor, a longtime pitching coach who is one of Gonzalez's best friends. Brigham was dismayed when he was forced to begin the season with Double-A Mississippi, but this wasn't necessarily a new experience.
Since making his professional debut for the Rangers in 2006, Brigham had totaled just 44 appearances above the Double-A level. The determined hurler earned a promotion to Triple-A Gwinnett last week and made just one appearance for the G-Braves before becoming the latest addition to Atlanta's bullpen this past weekend.
"I just went about my work every day and tried to get better every day," Brigham said. "Two weeks later, I'm sitting here. Pretty surreal."
Before exiting the clubhouse to talk to his parents, wife and other family members who were in attendance, Brigham spoke to media members with his hands in his pockets. He said he did it because his hands were still shaking from the experience.
"I have to keep reminding myself to breathe and take deep breaths," Brigham said. "It's just one of the best feelings I've ever felt."