BALTIMORE -- Manny Barreda ran from the bullpen to the pitcher's mound to start the eighth inning. He took a big, deep breath before tossing a fastball to start off against the bottom of the Royals’ lineup. It was a moment 14 years in the making for the Orioles pitcher.
One month shy of his 33rd birthday, Barreda made his MLB debut in Wednesday night’s 9-8 come-from-behind win at Camden Yards, as the O’s rallied with a nine-run eighth inning to erase a 5-0 deficit.
No matter his performance, it was years of perseverance and hard work personified, and Barreda made sure his debut had a near-perfect story. He recorded three quick outs, including his first career strikeout of Royals designated hitter Michael A. Taylor to end the inning.
“This is the moment I've been waiting for since I was a little kid,” Barreda said with a huge smile. “I remember being an elementary student and writing that I'm going to play Major League Baseball. [I’ve been] a follower of every Major League baseball team and this is the pinnacle. It doesn't get any better than this.”
As Barreda walked toward the dugout after his scoreless outing, he was greeted by his teammates.
“Guys get here in different ways, at different ages,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “His is a long, hard-fought path to get here. When he finished that inning with a strikeout, came in, and everybody was at the top step, you know, high-fiving him. Just because of what an accomplishment it is to watch a guy grind for so long and to get to the big leagues.”
At the time, the Orioles were down, 5-0, and the plan was to have Barreda go back out for the ninth. However, his outing gave Baltimore the momentum it needed. After his 12-pitch inning, the O’s offense came up swinging as they put up nine runs in the bottom of the frame -- including Ryan Mountcastle’s 26th homer of the season. The two-run jack provided the winning margin.
Other members of the offense, including Barreda’s former teammate Ramón Urías, came up big for the Orioles. Coming off the bench to pinch-hit after sitting out two games due to upper leg soreness, Urías smacked an RBI single to bring the O’s within two runs.
During the nine-run frame, Kelvin Gutierrez walked up to Barreda, telling the pitcher that he was going to earn the win. The righty laughed, but then the third baseman hit a game-tying single.
Barreda became the 10th player in Orioles history to make his MLB debut in relief and earn the win, with Mike Baumann also doing it in Tuesday’s game. Prior to that, the last O’s reliever to achieve this feat was Alberto Castillo on April 28, 2008.
The Orioles are the first team in the modern era to have a reliever earn the win in his MLB debut in back-to-back games. Baltimore is the first team since the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers to have any pitchers (starters or relievers) earn the win in their debuts in back-to-back games (July 17, 1955, when Roger Craig and Don Bessent were starters, according to Elias Sports Bureau).
Since being selected in the 12th round of the 2007 Draft, Barreda dreamed of the day he would pitch in the Major Leagues. He spent seven years in the Yankees’ organization, working his way up to Double-A, before being released. He bounced between the Brewers and Braves systems in-between stints in the Mexican League.
For the entirety of the 2018-19 season, Barreda pitched for the Toros de Tijuana in the Mexican League, being named a midseason All-Star in ‘19.
When Barreda inked a deal with Baltimore in March, his dream of becoming a big league ballplayer was once again within reach. All but two of his appearances for Triple-A Norfolk have been out of the bullpen -- posting a 4.19 ERA for the Tides -- marking his first stint with an MLB affiliate since 2017, when he pitched for the Braves’ Triple-A club.