Tolliver impresses in 3-K big league debut

May 27th, 2016

HOUSTON -- When Ashur Tolliver finally made the oft-dreamed-about run in from the bullpen to a Major League mound, the 28-year-old didn't have much time to enjoy the moment.

But he did make a solid first impression, tossing 1 1/3 scoreless innings in his debut to provide a bright spot despite the O's 4-2 loss to the Astros on Thursday.

"[I was] just trying to go out there and compete," Tolliver said of his mindset after striking out his first batter, Colby Rasmus. "Wasn't anything crazy going on in my mind or anything, just trying to get ahead and make quality pitches to put somebody away."

Tolliver, who had his contract selected from Double-A Bowie on Tuesday, entered in the sixth inning in relief of starter Kevin Gausman. Tolliver pitched around a two-out walk, getting red-hot Luis Valbuena -- who homered in all three games of the series -- to go down swinging in his first inning, while friends and family proudly looked on.

"It was great. I'll take [my debut] whenever I can get it, but this is [my friends and family's] last day and they're heading home tonight," Tolliver said of his family and three close friends who had been in Houston all series. "To be able to do it in front of them, it was pretty cool."

Tolliver opened the seventh, sending Jason Castro down looking on strikes before turning the ball over to Mychal Givens.

"I'm happy for Ashur. That was really impressive," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "Most of the time, you got a lot of adrenaline going like that, it's tough to funnel into the competition, and he was able to do that. I'm real proud of him. He's a guy that has plied his trade for a long time, and people tell him, somebody can't do this. I know there's a lot of people, obviously his family, happy to see him get to where he's wanted to get. We'll see what it does when the adrenaline wears off, but good job by our scouting and player-development people to hang on [to him]."

Drafted in the fifth round of the 2009 Draft, Tolliver had labrum surgery on his left shoulder in the spring of 2012, and he said it took years for him to feel like his old self. He started to catch the O's eye last year at Bowie, and re-signed with Baltimore this offseason instead of electing to test free agency.

"It was coming out really good today, too. You could tell [Tolliver] was pretty amped up, but everybody is in their debut," Gausman said. "He'll probably come in tomorrow feeling pretty sore. It's a different beast up here. Obviously, we're all very happy for him, and he did great. First guy he faced, Rasmus, obviously a very established player. Probably one of the best left-handed hitters in the game, and he struck him out and did it pretty quickly, too. It was pretty awesome to see that."