HOUSTON (AP) — Kent Emanuel had just sat down in the bullpen and was preparing to enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee during the first inning on Saturday.
“All of the sudden they were like: ‘Hey, you better start loosening up,'” he said. “I was like … here we go.'”
After toiling in the minors for seven long seasons, the Houston Astros pitcher was thrown into his major league debut at a moment’s notice.
And what a moment it was.
Emanuel worked 8 2/3 innings in relief, saving Houston’s bullpen after Jake Odorizzi left early with an injury, and the Astros routed the Los Angeles Angels 16-2.
“It’s pretty wild,” Emanuel said. “But I’ve been expecting this moment for quite some time now. So, I was ready.”
Emanuel (1-0) allowed five hits and two runs. The 28-year-old lefty became the fourth pitcher in the modern era to have a relief outing of 8 2/3 innings or more in his debut, according to STATS, joining Fred Smith (1907), Maury Kent (1912) and John Montefusco (1974).
“Sometimes it’s better that a young man in his first outing doesn’t have to sleep on it or think about it and you just give him the ball,” manager Dusty Baker said.
Emanuel likely would have made the roster out of spring training but was finishing an 80-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs.
Emanuel, who was recalled from the alternate training site on Friday, has loudly proclaimed his innocence since the suspension and crusaded against what he calls unfair testing policies. He chose to wear the jersey No. 0 for the number of games he believes he should have been suspended.
Alex Bregman hit a three-run homer, Yordan Alvarez had a season-high four RBIs, Carlos Correa had three hits including a homer and Michael Brantley doubled three times for Houston. The Astros had season highs…