DETROIT -- Dietrich Enns did a lot of thinking during his nearly four-year stint between Major League appearances. Looking back on Saturday, boy, is he sure glad he never gave up on his dream.
“It's been a pretty good last couple of months, so I'm just grateful and thankful for every day I'm here,” said Enns, who picked up his first career win with four no-hit innings of relief during the Rays’ 7-2 win over the Tigers on Saturday. “I was trying to do my job as best as I can.”
Those last few words sum up what has been a whirlwind trip to the top for Enns, who was released by the Mariners during the initial wave of the 2020 pandemic and found himself contemplating whether it was the end of his baseball career. His wife, Julie Anne, encouraged him to push on. Enns eventually landed with the Joliet, Ill., team in the independent Frontier League, where he not only started every five days but served as the Tully Monsters’ pitching coach.
A lot of hard work and a little bit of luck later -- the same scout who saw Enns pitch in college at Central Michigan happened upon an indy league game and convinced the Rays to give him a shot -- and Enns is now working for the American League’s best team.
Rays manager Kevin Cash said on Sunday that Enns will start Thursday's tilt at home against the Tigers, filling in the rotation spot of Chris Archer, who was placed on the 10-day IL on Sunday with left hip discomfort.
"His performance was pretty awesome [Saturday]," Cash said. "Should be close to that 75-pitch mark heading into Thursday."
Enns has a 3.38 ERA in six appearances with Tampa Bay this season, and probably none was more special than Saturday's. Because Comerica Park sits just two hours southeast of his alma mater, joining his parents in the stands were plenty of college teammates.
“I definitely wanted to get my first [win] out of the way, so I was happy it came here against the Tigers,” Enns said. “It makes it pretty special when you’ve got somebody to share it with.”
The on-field celebration carried on into the clubhouse, where Enns was given the traditional celebratory Kevin Kiermaier dance and beer-shower treatment from the crew while he delighted in every last sud.
He’d certainly earned it.
“Tonight, he was electric,” teammate Joey Wendle said. “He was throwing the ball 96 miles an hour, putting it in the zone and letting his stuff kind of do the work, so, awesome to see that.”
This and that
• With 20 games remaining entering play Sunday, Tampa Bay is on pace for a 101-61 record, which would be a franchise record for wins, topping 2008's 97-65. The Rays need to finish 11-9 or better to reach the 100-win threshold.
• The Rays have an MLB-best 43 come-from-behind wins this season.
On this day in Rays history
Sept. 12, 2015: David Ortiz homers twice against Tampa Bay at Tropicana Field during Boston's win. Big Papi's second homer off starter Matt Moore marked No. 500 in the legendary slugger's career, making him the 27th player in American League/National League history to reach the milestone.