Wright makes his mark in first career outing
O's prospect tosses 7 1/3 scoreless innings, exits to ovation at Camden Yards
BALTIMORE -- Before Sunday's game, Orioles manager Buck Showalter said pitcher Mike Wright would be looking to make an impression in his Major League debut.
"He wants to pitch a shutout and make us not send him back out," Showalter said. "I've got it. I want him to, too."
The rookie right-hander made Showalter look like a prophet, allowing four hits over 7 1/3 electric innings of scoreless ball, while striking out six batters and walking none in Baltimore's 3-0 triumph over the Angels, bailing the Birds out of a tricky situation due to injuries to starters Bud Norris (bronchitis) and Chris Tillman (back stiffness).
Wright became the ninth Orioles pitcher to have a scoreless start in his Major League debut and the first since Chris Waters on Aug. 5, 2008. It's the first at Oriole Park since Anthony Telford did it on Aug. 19, 1990.
"I'm impressed by the fact that he went out there and went 7 1/3 innings with 90 pitches," center fielder Adam Jones said. "He was economical, he threw strikes and he kept his defense in the game."
The 6-foot-6 power pitcher earned his first Major League strikeout by firing one of his 98-mph fastballs past Angels slugger Mike Trout in the first inning, and the day only got better from there.
"That was pretty exciting," Wright said. "To have your first big league strikeout be Mike Trout is a pretty good thing to have."
Wright, who was 3-0 with a 2.64 ERA in six starts at Triple-A Norfolk before being recalled on May 13, went through his normal routine, spending time before the game in the stands reading a book in order to get his body used to the game conditions. He got an added boost of familiarity by working with catcher Caleb Joseph, whom he had teamed with in prior Minor League starts.
"He was really impressive," Joseph said. "It's exciting for him. I've played with him in Double-A and Triple-A, and to be a part of somebody's debut, and an impressive debut at that, was special. He was carrying a really live fastball. He was able to sink it when he needed to and elevate when he needed to."
Wright allowed just four hits, but two of them came in the fourth inning, when the Angels mounted their lone threat of the game after a single from Kole Calhoun and a double by Albert Pujols. But Wright was able to induce a groundout, and then struck out Johnny Giavotella to end the inning.
"Honestly, I thought that ball that Pujols hit was gone," Wright said. "I missed with a fastball, but when that stayed in, I was like, I really need to get through this. That was one of my really good sliders, to end that inning, so I was pretty pumped about that."
As Wright walked off the field to a standing ovation from the 41,733 in attendance, Showalter mused about what could be the start of something special.
"You're lucky to be there," Showalter said. "Hopefully we can say we were there in his first outing one day."